Dec 30 2005

Non violence in Palestine

Published by at 3:22 am under Blogs

December 28 & 29,  2005

I was invited to participate and give a workshop in a conference on nonviolence held in Bethlehem. The conference entitled Celebrating Non violence was organized by the Washington based Nonviolence international and the Bethlehem-based Holy Land Trust. The two organizations are run by people that I respect a lot. The first is run by Dr. Mubarak Awad, (who is also my favorite cousin) and the second was run until recently by another relative (Sami Awad) who has recently resigned because he is running for the Bethlehem Christian seat of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

This international conference was impressive. Statements from people like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu were read along with local statements from President Mahmoud Abbas, the mayor of Bethlehem Victor Batarseh and the Governor of Bethlehem Salah Tamari. The governor of Bethlehem is a well known PLO guerilla who married the ex wife of King Hussein princess Dina.


While much of the speeches were impressive and valuable, I was truly moved by a 45 minute play presented by 11th grade girl students from the Bethlehem area. The play which is based on a set of diaries that the English language teacher at St. Joseph has been asking her students to write was breathtaking. It was a mix between sadness and happiness, anger and hope. The diaries that were played out talk about the mundane lives that Palestinians are living in literally boxed in like animals inside a cage and the difficulties of living under occupation. But the girls never let you to get too depressed with their stories, after ever sad act they follow with a gidi one often taking the viewers into the lives and minds of Palestinian teenage girls.


While watching I kept thinking that this is the kind of art that can help break the prevailing stereotype of Palestinians. Showing this play which is done in English in American or European high schools could have tremendous power in reversing the biases that have been causing the dehumanization of Palestinians.

The Inteternational Nonviolence conference will hold another conference in a couple of years. Jordan and Egypt have been suggested as venues. One organizer asked me if Jordanian authorities would agree to having such a conference to be held on its lands. I said yes, but I am not sure whether it will in fact be held in Jordan or not.


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