Thursday, June 24, 2010

"My journey towards peace," by Farhat Akram

Kashmir happens to be my motherland.

The name Kashmir is now synonymous with terror, war and torture. The worth and cost of peace cannot be better realized by anyone other than the generation that was born in a land of conflict where it is a prized and scarce
rather than an extinct—commodity. The childhood memories got registered in my mind and kept on resonating throughout my youth. Truly, I have grown up with a dream to see peace in Kashmir. 

 Once, while narrating the events to me, my father said that conflicts cannot end by starting another conflict but through peace and dialogue. At that time, the words just kept reverberating in my mind, but for many years I had no means or resources to do something concrete. That was major reason for starting my journey towards peace and taking concrete peacebuilding initiatives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Me... Against Violent Extremism" Student Art Projects in Yemen

Student participants at Raba'a Al-Adawia school for girls in Sana'a, Yemen.

Under the slogan “Me…Against Violent Extremism,” SAVE Yemen and Raba'a Al-Adawia School organized a workshop for female students from different grades. In the workshops, the girls drew their perspectives about terrorism and extremism.

SAVE Yemen trainers Fatima Al-Zuhairy, principal of Raba’a Al-Adawia, Noor Baabad, a Minister in the Department of Social Affairs, and Fahmia Al-Fotih', SAVE Yemen Coordinator, facilitated the workshop and observed the students’ outcomes.

In the beginning of the workshop, Ms. Al-Zuhairy had a dialogue with the participating students in which she measured the students' level of understanding about “terrorism and extremism.” She also discussed with them the negative impact of terrorist activities on their personal lives, communities, and beloved country. Ms. Al-Zuhairy explained to the young girls the importance of their roles in building peace and rejecting intolerance and negative practices as the future mothers and leaders.

 Ms. Baabad talked to the young participants stressing the important roles that young people can play in developing their countries; she told them that development could not be achieved unless there is peace and accepting of other cultures.

Ms. Al-Fotih expressed gratitude to the school's administration and to the student participants, hoping that their noble participation in rejecting violent extremism would move beyond the workshop to their families and their communities.

At the end of the workshop, around 18 students managed to come up with a number of portraits through which they depicted their strong hopes for peace and fears of bombings and insecurity. Some have pictured a peaceful village of houses demolished by a bombing and others portrayed suicide bombers destroying all lives.

An example of a student's response to violent extremism through art.

This students' campaign is just of one of activities that SAVE Yemen is carrying out.

Report by SAVE Coordinator Fahmia al-Fotih'

Friday, June 11, 2010

LILY MUNIR, INDONESIA: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

Dear SAVE Sisters,

These last few days I have been thinking of what words I will be contributing to the debates within SAVE about the tragedy of humanity in the Gaza waters. As a normal common human being, regardless of the religious background, one must have been terrorized to see what has happened on the flotilla ships and on the increased sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza. How sad to see human values have been tragically destroyed.

In Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population, the reaction to this bitterness is manifested in various ways. I have been taught that reactions to injustices can be expressed at different levels. We, as civil society members, have entrusted our governments who have political authorities (such as the Indonesian government) to undertake political lobbies and diplomacy. The Indonesian government has committed to a grand vision for the MiddleEast, where the State of Palestine exists as a sovereign state. We as citizens have entrusted our government in pursuing this grand vision. In addition to the above, we Indonesians have expressed our solidarity through moral movements on the street in big cities in Indonesia and deployed humanitarian aids and 12 peace volunteers in the aids flotilla.

 Since joining SAVE three years ago, I have a big hope that women worldwide will have a more significant role as peace makers and peace movers. My dream is that humanitarian and peace values will spread globally especially in supporting our sisters in Palestine and Israel as peace mediators for the Gaza. It is my hope that SAVE Global can give bigger supports to Asma and Robi to enlist other Palestinian and Israeli women in our Mothers for Change movement so that they can voice out their concerns and make changes from within their countries.

SAVE Global can and needs to give more empowerment and support to our sisters here. This is a concrete action that we can do as SAVE for sisterhood and solidarity with Palestine and Israeli people. I realize it is a big challenge but it is not impossible. In Maria Worth we were exposed with the success story of sisters in Ireland, in a different context, to bring peace and reconciliation.

I realize that this will need a very “long and deep breath,” to borrow the words in the headline of Indonesia’s largest newspaper, Kompas on June 7, 2010 on the issue of Palestine and Israel. But I believe that women have been blessed with strengths, endurance and resilience to stand up against injustices. To Asma and Robi, my heart is with you and those who are struggling for freedom and dignity.

With love from sunny Jakarta,


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Recent Developments in Jamat-E-Islami, Pakistan," by Arshi Saleem Hashmi

Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan is one of the main religious political parties in the country, supported the Islamization process during Gen. Zia's regime as well as Afghan Jihad in 1980s. They have never come out openly against Taliban and always say that Taliban insurgency is the reaction of the US attack on Afghanistan. They are in the forefront in all the anti-American protests in the country. Interestingly, they never get more than 1% of the total vote in general elections but always find ways to be in coalitions. Below are excerpts from a commentary on their political role in Pakistan and their policies in the region written by Arshi Saleem Hashmi for the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. There are similar branches of Jamat-e-Islami in India and Bangladesh adn there is a very strong Jamat-e-Islam women's wing as well. You can find the complete report here. Arshi Saleem Hashmi is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad, and an Assistant Professor at the National Defense University, Islamabad.

Syed Munnawar Hasan is the new Amir of Jamat-e-Islami (JeI). Considered to be a hardliner in the party, it is fair to say that he has a life from one extreme to another. The JeI leadership is not dynastic; the party has always held elections to choose its office holders. Party members cannot seek leadership; instead a politburo of sorts (Shura) proposes three candidates from whom the party members then choose their Ameer for a four-year term.

JeI is an ideological party but it is clearly divided between the ideologues and pragmatists. Another important issue within the party is ethnicity: there are Pashtuns and then Muhajirs (Urdu-speaking migrants from India).

Given the fact that the current leadership is quite inflexible vis-à-vis the West and its policies, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there will be a hard-line approach on part of the Jamat-e-Islami in future. An indication is the recent initiative by JeI and other religious parties in Pakistan who agreed to adopt a joint strategy against the US intervention in the country but the expected announcement of the revival of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has not been made. However, a lot has to be sorted out before another MMA alliance takes shape. The Sunni Itehad believes that fundamentalism and terrorism would re-emerge in the country with the reunion of the MMA, as its last regime in the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP) provided the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups safe havens there.

When it comes to Kashmir, JeI is adamant on its decades-old policy of no compromise on the future of Kashmir. It seems that JeI still believes in "Kashmir jihad."

JeI Pakistan described the US's new Afghan policy as "a declaration of war against the tribesmen in Pakistan's tribal region."

It seems that JeI Pakistan will remain a small group. The 2008 elections clearly indicated the frustration with the religious right, but people have very short memories and now that the "secular," "progressive" government of PPP is not doing enough for the people, they might again turn towards the Islamists. Within just two years, public opinion is once again changing, and JeI is shrewd enough to make the most out of it.

Like in the past, religious parties, particularly JeI, would in some way or the other remain in close alliance with the military if not overtly; they would reach an understanding together as the military now does not want to be seen as criticizing the government. We should not underestimate JeI’s street power and mosque to mosque network. Its presence in universities and neighborhoods are unmatched for mass mobilization.

JeI will continue to remain active through its vast network in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Kashmir. However, on the domestic front, the rivalry with the MQM would hamper any hope for JeI to monopolize the politics of urban Sindh. JeI is desperate to expand its political influence which is fast fading away; there will be more show of street power against government’s inability to provide basic needs to people, against drone attacks, against the occupation of Afghanistan and against the US facilitated India-Pakistan normalization of relations.

In desperation to achieve political influence, the JeI might come under Nawaz Sharif flag. Hence the possibility of a new alliance emerging from Raiwand (Lahore) led by Sharifs does exist, but it depends on a numbers of other factors as well. The pro-Taliban slogan may not help them this time but anti-US stance would surely fetch them many votes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Be part of the solution," by Robi Damelin

Let's go down the path of being right and not succeeding. Have you any idea how many times in a week I am tempted to throw in the towel and let someone else continue with this impossible task of trying to stop the occupation, trying to stop the blockade, trying to create a path to dialogue which if we are lucky will lead to reconciliation?

The lesson I learned from all of this tragedy is that the media feeds us with so much hatred and is so much part of the conflict. I heard and read reports from all of you---you did not even stop to take a breath before you were so sure that the Israeli soldiers were out to destroy the world. Of course it was idiotic to board the Marmara and our remarkable leaders could do with a large injection of wisdom. However, even the Turkish press has now printed pictures and concedes that many on this particular boat were not seeking peace. There are still a number of soldiers in hospital. The rest of the boats used non-violence and no one was hurt, and an incredible point of the stupidity and cruelty of the Gaza Blockade was made. 

SAVE has created wonderful experiences and opportunities for female activists in the security realm, and Edit and her devoted team have developed a platform for a new and powerful voice. So few people in the world are prepared to take a stand and make a difference, and how sad it would be to lose your voices. Please be part of a solution which we all pray for.

It is a little odd for you to get such a message from an Israeli mother, but it comes from the most honest part of me.


Monday, June 7, 2010

ANITA PRATAP, INDIA: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

Understandably, developments in the highly polarized Middle East arouses strong, emotional responses from people not only in the region, but from around the world.

It serves no one’s cause to feed into the anger, sense of injustice and pain that pervades the region
. Especially when feelings run high, rather than fall prey to divisions and antagonisms, it becomes even more important for us, as caring, responsible women, to strengthen bonds and rally humane forces to pursue what we believe to be the greater common good.

This pain and anger embroils SAVE now. Important questions, fears and doubts have been raised and these need to be addressed. Calmly and unitedly.

As I understand, SAVE is not a political platform but a forum to bring together disparate voices that share universal values and seek a common goal: to find ways and means to end violent extremism. Topical emotional issues that surface should not tear SAVE apart. Rather it reinforces the need to bridge differences, suspicions and animosities through dialogue.

If SAVE members behaved in any other way, there would then be little to distinguish them from the political parties and extremist groups that indulge constantly and compulsively in divisive polemics and tactics that has only succeeded in pushing the Middle East further into the vortex of violence. Distress at the turn of events is natural and yet the challenge before us is how to overcome it in a way that also helps us to break out of this vicious cycle. We must, becaue if we didn’t, we are punishing the ordinary people of the region who are the ones to continue suffering the consequences.

This is an opportunity for SAVE to show the way, become a genuine trailblazer as the voice of reason and reconciliation. Turning against each other is a self-goal. We need more allies, not alienate the few allies and friends we have.

NATIONAL MUSLIM WOMEN'S ADVISORY COUNCIL, UK: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

As the deportees from the Gaza flotilla engagement begin returning home, we wish to express our support for the line taken by HM Government. We welcome the Prime Minister’s statement and commend the call of the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague, for an end to the blockade in the best interests of all the people of the region.

This is a conflict that has far reaching consequences for communities in many places. At this difficult time, we would like to reach out to those on both sides to help ensure the good of British communities. Therefore, we invite all organisations from different faiths and backgrounds to work together with NMWAG to help achieve this.

Please contact NMWAG member Hadiya Masieh for information:

Friday, June 4, 2010

BEVERLY CRAWFORD, USA. Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

As my heart goes out to those who have lost their dear ones I am reminded of how we must continue to work tirelessly toward creating reconciliation and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. I believe that this means nothing less than ending the Occupation, providing a just solution for Palestinian refugees, and providing security for Israelis. And most immediately this means ending the blockade of Gaza. It is my fervent hope that the shock of Monday's tragic and senseless killings will lead to a re-evaluation of Gaza's closure and the recognition that opening Gaza will be an important step toward freeing the Palestinians from their suffering, and doing so is in Israel's vital interest.


Beverly Crawford, Professor of Political Science and Political Economy, University of california Berkeley
Co-Director of the EU Center of Excellence, UC Berkeley

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CINDY AND CRAIG CORRIE, USA. Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

We are heart-sick and outraged about the brutal attack launched by the Israeli Military on the Free Gaza Movement's flotilla of boats in the early morning hours (Eastern Mediterranean time), Monday, May 31. The boats were carrying civilian passengers and humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, and were clearly in international waters when this illegal attack occurred, in violation of international law.

The number of dead and injured are still unconfirmed, but lowest figures reported are 9 killed and 34 injured. The Israeli Government has still not released their names. Over 700 citizens from nearly forty countries were on board the flotilla vessels.

We grieve for those who have been killed and pray for the recovery of those who have been injured. We salute them for their sacrifice in solidarity with Gazans suffering under a prolonged and immoral siege, which is itself a despicable and illegal act of collective punishment upon a civilian population. People on board the flotilla boats included human rights activists, journalists, public servants, and Palestinians hoping to reunite with family members. Some of those on board, we know personally. We continue to marvel at the courage, dedication, and moral clarity of all these activists. Like our daughter Rachel Corrie, they were coming to the aid of the people of Gaza because governments of the world have failed to act. Our hearts, go out,as well, to the families and friends of all those on board the flotilla vessels, many of whom may still not know the fate of their loved ones.

We call on the U.S. Government and governments of the world to act now. First, the well-being of all the flotilla passengers still in Israel must be secured, and the identities of those killed and injured must be released immediately. Second, governments around the world must demand an independent investigation into the attack upon the flotilla and the killings that occurred. An Israeli-led investigation into an international incident of this magnitude is unacceptable. Our family's own experience has made it all too painfully clear that the Israeli military is unable or unwilling to adequately investigate itself. Third, the U.S. and other governments can and must insist that other boats from the flotilla, including the MV Rachel Corrie, named for our daughter, be permitted to sail through international waters to Gaza unobstructed. Finally, we demand that the governments of the world act as courageously as did the activists on the Free Gaza flotilla and, themselves, break the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza.

Cindy and Craig Corrie

The MV Rachel Corrie, named after Cindy and Craig's daughter, Rachel. The MV Rachel Corrie is due to arrive at Gaza at 8 am on Saturday, June 5. 

ANNE CARR, NORTHERN IRELAND. Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

Today I listened with horror to Northern Ireland politicians, lining up to take sides in the aftermath of the horrific death and violence which took place on the flotilla of ships bringing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

Unionist politicians supporting the actions of the Israeli army and pointing the finger of blame at Hammas, citing the continuing hail of bombings into Israel and Republican politicians lambasting the Israeli army for perpetrating this murderous assault on people supporting the Palestinians forced to live in unacceptable conditions with restricted movement, check points, shortages of basic foods and medicines and devoid of opportunities for work and education.

I learned from my friends in the Parent's Circles Families Forum, an organisation of Palestinian and Israeli people, all of whom have lost loved ones to this most destructive conflict, that to take sides like this does absolutely nothing in helping to bring this conflict to an end, rather it fuels the fire of despair and bolsters the hate mongers.

All of this madness is wrong. All of the families who live every day with the consequences of this war, day in, day out - the fear, the pain, the helplessness, the injustice, the hunger, the thirst, the hopelessness - know only too well what suffering is.

I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt sympathy to all of the families caught up in this recent disaster, the peace loving volunteers, the crew, the young soldiers sent in by armchair generals.

They today are left to pick up the pieces of their lives, to ask all the “why?” questions, to bury their children, dads, brothers.

As far as I am concerned, it is time for the whole world to wise up! Everyone knows that a two state solution, a viable and free Palestine and a viable free Israel is the only way forward. How many peace processes are required for the blatantly obvious to sink in. Neither the Palestinian people nor the Israeli people are going to disappear in a puff of smoke and the basic human dignity of both peoples needs to be respected in the creation of their own homelands, at peace with one another and at peace with the world.

We in Northern Ireland are coming to terms with one another, slowly. We have come a long way since the devastating bloody three decades of violent death and our peace process is slowly taking root. We still have a long way to go and in many respects our ability to understand one another and create a truly shared society is a slow and difficult process yet step by step we must journey on.

Our children deserve no less - and the children of Israel and Palestine deserve to live and grow and laugh and play - free and safe - and it is not some distant alien preventing this - its ordinary human being like me and you - especially when we align ourselves to one side or the other instead of standing in solidarity together and saying in one strong voice -END THIS MADNESS NOW!

We, as active supporters of the SAVE declaration, are encouraging mothers everywhere to stand in solidarity together against violent extremism and today I want to feel the power of that message permeating the corridors of power all over the world. I want the decision makers everywhere to get serious about developing viable peace agreements and the crucial implementation processes which follow.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Unfortunately, so often, vested interest, power imbalances and resentment stand as huge obstacles to progress - and peace processes wallow in stagnation and indecision.

The focus of the world's media is today on the hostages being deported from Israel and the anger of both the Palestinian government and the Israeli government over what has happened.

The families of the dead and injured will watch this and wonder - how many more fellow human beings will have to suffer before the inevitable resolution is found.

Anne Carr, SAVE Northern Ireland
Dialogue Practitioner, Belfast, Northern Ireland

FALAKNAZ ASFANDYAR, PAKISTAN: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

We as a nation condemn the attacks. We have already been to demonstrations against these attacks. What we need is tolerance of each other and respect for each others' religions. My deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Falaknaz Asfandyar, SAVE Pakistan
Activist for Internally Displaced Persons in the Swat Valley

FAHMIA AL FOTIH', YEMEN: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla

The Israeli heinous disproportionate attack on the peace ships that were heading for the needy people in the siege Gaza has wrecked the hopes of peace!

Such an arrogant act is not just challenging for SAVE mission but it is challenging for international law and the international community as a whole.

Yemenis like other Arabs, Muslims, and people around the globe reacted in demonstrations that rocked the capital, Sana'a, and other cities early morning yesterday to strongly condemn the Israeli attack on the peace and aid convey. There are three Yemeni MPs on the flotilla.

Anger and resentment was obviously seen on the raged faces of the protesters most of which were young people from schools and universities. Looking at those angry young crowds who were calling for jihad and taking revenge from the Israeli criminals made me realize how difficult our work as SAVE would be! The same scenes were observed in all Muslim and Arab countries. At the moment, there are a number of events taking place here and there in Yemen to show solidarity with the ship of peace convey.

Without a doubt, these senseless activities and proactive actions plus the absence of international justice always invoke rage and give justification for any terrorist activity to take place which in turn pose a big challenge to achieve peace and reconciliation.

LILY MUNIR, INDONESIA: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

Our humanity mission of SAVE is being challenged again. Like millions of other Indonesians, I am extending my empathy and supports to you and to other Palestinians and Israelis who love peace. May God give you strengths and blessings.

Lots of love and peace,
Lily Munir, SAVE Indonesia,
Founder and Chair of the Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies (CePDeS=

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MOSSARAT QADEEM, PAKISTAN: Reactions to the Israeli attack on the flotilla.

It is with great distress that SAVE sisters from Pakistan received the news that the Israeli naval forces stormed a Gaza-bound vessel carrying humanitarian aid in international waters before dawn on Monday, killing at least 20 civilians and injuring many more. “Very few times in history has a flotilla delivering humanitarian goods been welcomed by military war ships.”

We condemn the assault and killing of innocent people who were attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, who have been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007. We further condemn the flagrant violation of international law by Israel in attacking and boarding a humanitarian convoy in international waters. We pray for all those who are affected by the attack, especially the bereaved families.

We urge the government of Israel to repatriate those detained by the Israeli army. We call for an immediate release of the impounded ships, and an end to the economic blockade of Gaza. It is our considered opinion that the legitimate humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza be met in accordance with international humanitarian law. We further call the UN Security Council to mandate a full investigation into the assault unlike that of December 2008.

The deplorable events which occurred on Monday off the coast of Gaza remind us yet again of the pressing need for an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. SAVE Sisters from Pakistan reiterates its commitment to work for just and lasting peace in the world along with other SAVE sisters.

Check out this site, find the Israeli embassy nearest you and let them know how you feel.

May our voices for Peace get strengthened with every passing day.

Mossarat Qadeem and SAVE Sisters from Pakistan

Mossarat Qadeem, SAVE Pakistan
Executive Director of the Paiman Trust, Ashoka Fellow

ARSHI SALEEM HASHMI, PAKISTAN: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

Students of International Relations and world politics are often told to separate emotions from real politics. Crises are dealt with calculative policies and public outbursts are often ignored on the basis of being two emotional. Having said that, I believe I will have to for a brief period, leave being a political analyst and university faculty to express my views as a human being. Israeli insane action recently has not only disappointed the Muslim world but the peace activists in Israel are equally appalled by Israeli attack on humanitarian aid flotilla.

We in Pakistan are concerned because there were Muslims in the flotilla but also because of the fact that there were three Pakistanis from the media were part of this humanitarian effort.

If we look at the issue politically, it has united the people in the Muslim world like never before, but this does not mean that the regimes in the Muslim world are equally hurt by Israeli actions. The 126 people who are now freed by Israel were from 13 different countries. It is for sure that Israeli administration has emerged as the biggest abuser of the basic human rights in this age of globalization and “peace initiatives." 

Israel is encouraged not only by unconditional US support but the inactive, indifferent attitude of the Muslim regimes as well. Israel will think twice if there is no US support available for its unfair actions towards the Palestinians but also that a strong Muslim reaction would be forthcoming wherever there is any injustice done by the Israeli administration. It is so disappointing that many a times despite strong public resentment and agitation in Muslim states against Israeli administration; the Muslim regimes do not appear to comprise their short term interests and do not come up collectively against wrong actions by Israel.

 The actions taken by Turkey and Iran were little drops in the ocean but they did manage to get the attention of the world and particularly the UN and US. Jordan and the US managed to get the prisoners released by the Israeli government.

We have to wait and see if Israel continues with its highhandedness against Palestinian or reevaluates its unfair, unjust policies in the region.

Arshi Saleem Hashmi, SAVE Pakistan
Research Analyst, Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad
Adjunct Assistant Professor, National Defense University, Islamabad

QORAN NOOR, SOMALIA: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

I am deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries suffered in Gaza. This is humanitarian crisis, and crimes against humanity, I strongly stand against this act, and I hope the EU and international community take action against the killing. This is human rights Violation and it should be handled by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Qoran Noor
Independent Gender and Human Rights Consultant

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SENAY ÖZDEMIR, NETHERLANDS: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

I am currently writing a book about Jewish immigrants from Hungary who fled to America in the Second World War, so with my mind I am in the midst of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism. As a Dutch girl, and along with everybody who grows up in The Netherlands, the home country of Anne Frank, knows how sensitive this topic is. And as a Turkish girl I was always happy that Turkey and Israel had good bonds with each other. Now I fear it’s going to escalate. But let me say this: I am against every violence, whether it’s coming from terrorists or governments. That’s why I signed as a SAVE member.

It couldn’t be more of a coincidence that today it’s announced that there is another aid ship on the way to Gaza. The ship’s name is the
Rachel Corrie, named after the daughter of one of our SAVE Sisters, Cindy Corrie. Rachel was an American member of the International Solidarity Movement and was killed in the Gaza Strip by an IDF bulldozer while attempting to prevent IDF forces from demolishing the home of local Palestinian Samir Nasrallah. A student at the Evergreen State College, she had taken a year off and traveled to the Gaza trip.

Rachel died seven years ago and it’s devastating to hear her mother Cindy speak. But Rachel’s story tells us also that this has nothing to do anymore with religion or terrorism or whatsoever.

Senay Özdemir, Netherlands
Author, De Harclub and Fellow, Osgood Center for International Affairs, DC

SHAISTA GOHIR, UK: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

An open letter to the British Government from Shaista Gohir

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to confirm my outrage at the attack carried out by Israeli commandos on civilians who were onboard ships carrying aid to Gaza. The Israeli government has again used disproportionate force and this time killed 19 civilians and injured more than two dozen others. Such action cannot be justified in terms of Israeli security.

Questions need to be asked as to why hundreds of ordinary citizens from around the world, including those from Britain, felt they had to take aid to Gaza. Had governments taken action to ensure Palestinians were receiving sufficient levels of aid, this would not have been necessary. Israel has no right to deny the basic human rights of 1.5 million Palestinians. Although Israel deny there is a humanitarian crisis and claim they allow aid into Gaza regularly, all international human rights agencies confirm there is a crisis, that Palestinians are living in inhumane conditions, and less than a quarter of the aid needed is allowed through.

Other governments, including those in Europe have been quick to respond and condemn the Israeli actions. However, I am disappointed on the slow response from the British Foreign Office. Silence and inaction will be seen by Israel as encouragement of their attitude, behaviour and actions. Successive British governments have failed to take sufficient action to demand Israel respect human rights and have not exerted meaningful pressure to stop the building of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territories – both which undermine the feasibility of a two state solution.

I appeal to the new British government not to stand by and watch 1.5 million people be gradually killed or starved and deprived of basic needs such as electricity, water, food and medical supplies. British values of justice and fairness should take priority over offending the Israeli government.

As a member of the Muslim community, I continue to witness at firsthand the extreme anger amongst ordinary law abiding and liberal Muslims at the current situation and the ongoing crisis in Gaza. Due to serious concerns over Gaza and possible repercussions for the UK, I request a meeting with yourself, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary along with other Muslim leaders to discuss this matter further and to understand how the British government plans to respond on this latest development as well as how it plans to bring peace to the region.

I look forward to meeting with you urgently.

Yours sincerely,

Shaista Gohir MBE

Executive Director

cc. Rt Hon Willam Hague MP, Foreign Secretary.
cc. Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister.

ESRA'A AL SHAFEI, BAHRAIN: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

Dear friends,

We in Bahrain are absolutely appalled. Prominent journalists are being attacked despite their clear press vests and badges. Some Israelis who are protesting this inhumane cruelty were being blocked by Israeli police to reach their destinations, and some were even violently provoked and beaten up. It is imperative to remain united against violence in these difficult times. I think what Robi is doing is especially important.

Unfortunately, as Arab activists we are consistently dismissed as biased by the mainstream media, and as protesters we are being labeled as hateful anti-Semites, despite having various Arab Jews amongst us in these protests. It is clear that none of this has to do with religion, but the media is framing it as such, allowing few people to understand the threat and impact of these killings. Those aid ships are being labeled as "an armada of hate." These labels and stigmas stand in the way of any hopes for peaceful dialogue and understanding.

Please guide us as to what we can do to help.

Please remain standing for justice, no matter what.

Esra'a al Shafei, Director, Mideast Youth

ARCHANA KAPOOR, INDIA: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

SAVE India is shocked at the news of these killings. We strongly condemn this senseless killing.

We have a list of questions for the Israelis. Who ordered these young soldiers to kill sleeping, unarmed civilians? How long can they stop peaceful protests? How long will they refuse relief and aid for those who need it the most? How long will they practice this kind of politics?

In the meanwhile, how long can we wait for governments to see reason? How long can we allow this hostility to continue? It is now more than ever that we need to rise and raise our voices and use the SAVE platform to dialogue and debate and look for solutions which are evading the governments. Let's start NOW!

Best Regards,

Archana Kapoor, SAVE India
SMART NGO, India; Publisher and Owner, Hardnews Magazine

ASMA ASFOUR, PALESTINE: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

We need to raise our voices against killing unarmed people who were in a human mission. 

The siege itself is against all human rights and as I think it will push people to commit violence. I'm calling here all peace activists, from both Palestinian and Israeli sides to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop killing.

In the previous month, indirect negotations have been started between both sides to achieve peace. But the question now, is Israel ready for peace? Does the act of killing unarmed people in a human mission help in the achievement of peace? I don't think so.

The fact that the killed people included not just Palestinians but people from other nations needs serious acts to prevent killing. How can people express their opinion? In a peaceful way. That how the people in the ships did that. But again, 9 of them were killed.

Again and again, I'm calling all Israeli people who want to live in peace to say "No" to all killings and also to break the siege. This is our real way to peace that I dream about.

Asma Asfour
Council Member, Ramallah 

ROBI DAMELIN, ISRAEL: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

I am so sad and I keep thinking—how many people need to die before this madness ends?

This is how I feel:

So many experts, so much violence, so much news, self-justification, blaming and death. Such tragic times bring out the fear mongers from all sides convincing us all that violence is the only way, in the belief that “we are right”.

How many more people need to die before we realize the need for compromise and a new way of acting? We cannot go on with the same old patterns leading to more and more violence which fuels up the conflict. We the bereaved families of this world can tell you that nothing, no need to be right, no proving of points, no piece of land, is worth the life of our children who are screaming out from their graves for us to stop the killing and insanity.

Yet, once again we have to ask, who will console the families of the dead and wounded? Who will convince them that their lives were worth losing because of decisions made by careless and unthinking leaders?

How long will it take until we understand that temporary security measures lead to long-term hatred and perpetuate the conflict? “Let’s impose blockades, let’s attack, let’s deprive people of freedom of movement”, we say to ourselves. Why can’t we understand that freedom of movement is a basic human right and depriving others of it will surely not lead to security? We cannot keep putting plasters on the wound. As the recent tragedy has shown once again, the solutions cannot be those which force us to take measures which will only end in more loss of blood and destroy all possibilities for reconciliation.

So let’s blame the Israelis, no, lets blame the peace-makers on the boats, no, lets blame the leaders. But who put them there ?  Sorry, but the blame game just makes us feel better about ourselves so that we do not have to give up our national pride, or our allegiances, or our dogmatic attachment to ideas. But where is the contribution we can make to changing the situation and creating a more peaceful world?

Couldn’t we all for a moment in the midst of this madness just imagine the future of our children? Once they are grown, will they too have to be lowered onto the decks of ships in order to prove a point? Or will their leaders have a more generous and wise spirit and understand that violence begets violence?  Will there be a spirit of compromise, leading to a safer future for us all?

And so, what can we all do, we are just citizens of the madness. I, for one believe that we must all take a stand and demand that the world leaders become involved, not in taking sides and blaming one side or the other, but in finding a way to put an end to the violence and look for a lasting solution. Such a solution cannot be achieved merely through paper agreements. It must include a reconciliation process. Otherwise we will have another cease-fire and not peace.

We at the Parents Circle Families Forum have recognized from the depths of our pain and loss that there is no revenge for the loss of a loved one and that we, the Palestinians and Israelis in the group will work towards an understanding of the Other’s needs which will in turn lead to a possibility for reconciliation and--dare we use the word--peace.

Robi Damelin
In the name of my beloved son David who died in the conflict.
Parents Circle—Families Forum
Palestinian and Israeli Families for Reconciliation and Peace

SAVE GLOBAL, EDIT SCHLAFFER: Reactions to Israeli attack on flotilla.

SAVE joins the international condemnation of this violent act at the sea near Gaza. SAVE believes access to relief is a HUMAN RIGHT. Peaceful protests and the right to dissent are human rights. SAVE stands for building bridges based on justice and fairness. We need to TALK. We need to DIALOGUE. We need non- violent alternatives to express dissent and disagreements. How long can we allow failed politics to impact our personal lives? This has to STOP!

We are distressed and our heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their dear ones.

Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS