September 15 2001:
Action Without Borders
A Personal Story
Over 1,000 people from all over the world have responded to the short message we sent you on Tuesday night. Right now we can't get back to each of you, but your messages were so moving that we wanted to share some of them with all of you. You'll find them at http://www.idealist.org/response.html
In addition, I wanted to take a moment to share a personal story with you.
Twenty years ago, as a young paratrooper in the Israeli army, I spent a long time on the Lebanese and Syrian borders, watching the Arab soldiers watching me over the barbed wire. As I looked at them day after day, it occurred to me that just as every unit in the Israeli army has 'good guys' who will give you their last pair of dry socks if you need it, and others who might steal yours if they can, so every unit on the Arab side must also have its share of people you would want to be with, and those you would rather avoid.
I was only 19 then, with lots of time on my hands, so once this thought hit me I couldn't help taking it a step further and thinking, "If we HAVE to fight, wouldn't it make more sense for the good guys on both sides to get together against the others...?" Which didn't happen, of course.
Instead, I spent five months in and around Beirut during the war of 1982, seeing what human beings can do to one another when they set their minds to it, and realizing that the line between good and bad runs and zigzags through each of us.
Still, this impulse to reach out across borders stayed with me, and years later it led to the creation of Idealist.org, where every day makes me more hopeful about what all of us can do together.
This is just one person's story, but so many of us have been brought up to see other people as 'them' first, and as human beings only later, if at all, that this seemed like a good time to tell it. Regardless of what each of us thinks should happen now, there is little doubt that in the next few weeks we'll see more violence. The challenge will be to not let this paralyze us, and to continue believing and doing what we do every day, only more so.
Thanks again for your support this week, and please take a moment to visit http://www.idealist.org/response.html
All the best to you and yours,
Action Without Borders
September 14 2001:
One million Palestinian school children observed a minute's silence for the victims of the attacks in New York and Washington DC. Vigils continue throughout today.
The U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem reported that it had received a foot-thick pile of condolence faxes from Palestinian organisations.
If The Electronic Intifada was to post every message of condolence to Americans and condemnation of the attack and perpetrators made by Palestinian organisations and institutions in the last two days, we would be doing nothing else for the rest of the month, according to their press release.
September 15 2001:
For Peace and Development
by Arab NGO Network
Between the 14th and 15th of September 2001, members of the Arab NGO Network for Development and the Forum Civil Euromed held an open meeting in Beirut to discuss the agenda and proceedings of the Euromediterranean Partnership meeting to be held in Brussels between 19 and 20 October 2001.
Due to the gravity of the terrorist attack on the United States that led to the loss of innumerable innocent lives, the participants issued
the following joint statement:
Terrorism is a horrible and condemnable act. Today, we are all appalled and saddened, together with all those who refuse indiscriminate attacks against innocent victims.
The tragedy that has struck the people of the United States should be considered, without a doubt, a heinous crime worthy of condemnation. On the other hand, we believe that this terrible act should not, in any way, justify the direct or indirect accusations that would lead to grave damage to international and regional relations.
In this context, we call the attention of politicians, media, and organizations working on democracy, civil rights, and public opinion to the dangers of the continuation of hostile rhetoric and smear campaigns that link - directly or indirectly - terrorism, on one hand, and the Arab and Islamic world and the Palestinians, on the other.
No area in the world is today immune to terrorism, neither is any group or person safe from the acts of national or international groups
that use terrorism as a means for imposing their demands and goals. The absolute poverty, terrible injustice, and absence of social
justice facing the peoples of this world is a fertile breeding grounds for the growth and thriving of terrorism.
We call on the United Nations to deal with the above issues according to international law and the respect of democratic principles. On the other hand, we are gravely concerned about the creation of a new western security front and the extravagant use of war rhetoric by the government of the US and its NATO allies.
Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we reject the attempts to build a new wall of hatred along the Mediterranean. We call on Europe to respect its commitments to support the creation of new spaces and frameworks for the free movement of persons in the Mediterranean. This should be in parallel to strengthening democracy, human rights, diversity, and socioeconomic development in the context of the mutual respect of the welfare of the peoples living on both shores.
Moreover, we cannot even contemplate the guarantee of the free movement of goods and services in the Mediterranean, in addition to
the strengthening of democracy and mutual security, without putting an end to the continuous Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and without the removal of Israeli settlements, the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the insurance of the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland according to the resolutions of the international body.
It is in the interest of Europe to work diligently to achieve a just, durable, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to strengthen the Euromediterranean partnership on the bases of justice, mutual respect, and common interests.
Beirut, 15 September 2001
ARAB NGO NETWORK FOR DEVELOPMENT
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition is the largest network of grassroots activists dedicated to Palestinian human rights. Al-Awda develops, coordinates, supports and guides as needed global and local grassroots initiatives for action related to Palestinian refugee rights.
To find out how to join an Al-Awda action committees in your area, please visit our website at http://al-awda.org
To sign Al-Awda's petition to terminate US aid to Israel go to: http://al-awda.org/terminate_aid_petition.htm
To sign a letter asking Intel Corporation to disinvest from Israel go to: http://al-awda.org/campaign/intel_letter.htm
After the smoke has cleared, the dust has settled down and the initial fury blown over, humankind will wake up and realize a new fact: there is no safe place on earth.
A handful of suicide-bombers has brought the United States to a standstill, caused the President to hide in a bunker under a far-away
mountain, dealt a terrible blow to the economy, grounded all aircraft, and emptied government offices throughout the country. This can happen in every country.
The Twin Towers are everywhere. Not only Israel, but the whole world is now full of gibberish about "fighting terrorism". Politicians, "experts on terrorism" and their likes propose to hit, destroy, annihilate etc., as well as to allocate more billions to the "intelligence community". They make brilliant suggestions. But nothing of this kind will help the threatened nations, much as nothing
of this kind has helped Israel.
There is no patent remedy for terrorism. The only remedy is to remove its causes. One can kill a million mosquitoes, and millions more will take their place. In order to get rid of them, one has to dry the swamp that breeds them. And the swamp is always political.
A person does not wake up one morning and tell himself: Today I shall hijack a plane and kill myself. Nor does a person wake up one morning and tell himself: Today I shall blow myself up in a Tel-Aviv discotheque. Such a decision grows in a person's mind through a slow process, taking years. The background to the decision is either national or religious, social and spiritual.
No fighting underground can operate without popular roots and a supportive environment that is ready to supply new recruits, assistance, hiding places, money and means of propaganda. An underground organization wants to gain popularity, not lose it. Therefore it commits attacks when it thinks that this is what the surrounding public wants. Terror attacks always testify to the public mood.
That is true in this case, too. The initiators of the attacks decided to implement their plan after America has provoked immense hatred
throughout the world. Not because of its might, but because of the way it uses its might. It is hated by the enemies of globalization, who blame it for the terrible gap between rich and poor in the world. It is hated by millions of Arabs, because of its support for the Israeli occupation and the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is hated by multitudes of Muslims, because of what looks like its support for the Jewish domination of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem. And there are many more angry peoples who believe that America supports their tormentors.
Until September 11, 2001 - a date to remember - Americans could entertain the illusion that all this concerns only others, in far-away
places beyond the seas, that it does not touch their sheltered lives at home. No more. That is the other side of globalization: all the world's problems concern everyone in the world. Every case of injustice, every case of oppression. Terrorism, the weapon of the weak, can easily reach every spot on earth. Every society can easily be targeted, and the more developed a society is, the more it is in danger. Fewer and fewer people are needed to inflict pain on more and more people. Soon one single person will be enough to carry a suitcase with a tiny atomic bomb and destroy a megalopolis of tens of millions.
This is the reality of the 21st century that started this week in earnest. It must lead to the globalization of all problems and the
globalization of their solutions. Not in the abstract, by fatuous declarations in the UN, but by a global endeavor to resolve conflicts and establish peace, with the participation of all nations, with the US playing a central role.
Since the US has become a world power, it has deviated from the path outlined by its founders. It was Thomas Jefferson who said: No nation can behave without a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. (I quote from memory). When the US delegation left the world conference in Durban, in order to abort the debate about the evils of slavery and in order to court the Israeli right, Jefferson must have turned over in his grave.
If it is confirmed that the attack on New York and Washington was perpetrated by Arabs - and even if not! - the world must at long last treat the festering wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is poisoning the whole body of humanity. One of the wise guys in the Bush administration said only a few weeks ago: "Let them bleed!" - meaning the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Now America is bleeding. He who runs away from the conflict is followed by it, even into his home. Americans, and Europeans too, should learn this lesson.
The distance from Jerusalem to New York is small, and so is the distance from New York to Paris, London and Berlin. Not only
multi-national corporations embrace the globe, but terror organizations do so, too. In the same way, the instruments for the solution of conflicts must be global.
Instead of the destroyed New York edifices, the twin towers of Peace and Justice must be built.
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