In this Spotlight, I had the privilege of speaking with YaliniDream, a Tamil artist and activist. Manchester born, Texas bred and Brooklyn brewed, YaliniDream conjures spirit through her unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance– reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in the lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. She has over 20 years experience as a cultural worker, consultant and organizer in anti-war, anti-violence and racial, gender, and economic justice movements. In this interview, we discussed the solidarity work YaliniDream has done with war-impacted and persecuted communities in the North and East of Sri Lanka, her position of questioning all armed actors and ethno-nationalisms, the complexity and nuance of revolutionary nonviolence, and what a just peace in Sri Lanka would look like.
As a Sri Lankan American, it was quite meaningful for me to engage with an activist of Sri Lankan descent and unpack the issues and legacies of Sri Lanka's brutal and tragic thirty-year long civil war. YaliniDream's commentary on the conflict offered a visceral reminder of the wounds of war, the way trauma impacts entire communities, how the most marginalized among us endure multiple forces of violence and the way armed struggle can so often lead to "liberation gone wrong", as YaliniDream puts it. The most surprising and difficult part of our conversation was when YaliniDream, instead of offering a vigorous defense of revolutionary nonviolence as a moral principle, challenged my preconceptions of her and dived into the complexity and nuance of revolutionary nonviolence and armed self-defense, challenging notions of purism and offering an argument for revolutionary nonviolent tactics rooted in efficacy and strategy rather than black-and-white morality. I'm grateful for YaliniDream for forcing me into this sticky nuance and encouraging me to think about nonviolence in a way that grapples with the contradictions and complications of real world struggles.
A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support.
The two-state solution is no longer viable. What is our path forward? Beyond The Two-State Solution, by Jonathan Kuttab, articulates a vision of a one-state solution that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism. This book invites readers to begin a new conversation based on reality: two peoples will need to live together in some sort of unified state. In this interactive webinar, Jonathan continues this conversation, engaging in a discussion with renowned activists and academics about visions and strategies for the future. Speakers include Jeff Halper and Noura Erakat.
Cosponsored by Nonviolence International and Just Peace Advocates
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and associate professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has served as legal counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives and as a legal advocate for Palestinian refugee rights at the United Nations. Noura's research interests include human rights and humanitarian, refugee, and national security law. She is a frequent commentator, with recent appearances on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others, and her writings have been widely published in the national media and academic journals.
Jeff Halper is an Israeli anthropologist. He serves as the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions in Jerusalem and is a founding member of the One Democratic State Campaign. Jeff is the author of An Israeli in Palestine (London: Pluto Press, 2008) on his work against the Occupation; Obstacles to Peace (ICAHD’s manual for activism in Palestine/Israel); and War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification (Pluto, 2015), which was shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award. His latest book is Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism and the Case for One Democratic State (London: Pluto, 2021).
Jonathan Kuttab is co-founder of Nonviolence International and a co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq. A well-known international human rights attorney, he has practiced in the US, Palestine, and Israel. He serves as the Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel North America. He is co-founder and board member of the Just Peace Advocates. He was the head of the Legal Committee negotiating the Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the PLO.
While interning at NVI, I've had the pleasure of speaking with well-known climate change activist Jamie Margolin. Jamie began advocating for environmental preservation and action to address climate change at the age of 14. She and her peers joined together to form Zero Hour, a youth-led movement taking action on climate change, to bring a voice to the youth who were often ignored in climate action conversations. Her activism did not stop there. Notably, Jamie has written a book called Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It which presents a guide for young people on how they can advocate for themselves, community, and world. As of now, Jamie continues her advocacy for climate action as well as promotion for queer representation through her own show Art Majors and her podcast Lavender You.
Being able to speak with Jamie was impactful for me beyond an educational experience on climate activism. In this interview, she is very honest about climate change and her experience growing from her original days as a 14-year old activist. While taking action is important and necessary, in this interview, Jamie reminded me of the importance in remembering to value and care for yourself. As Jamie notes, taking action to address climate change will not be done quickly. "This is a marathon, not a sprint," as she notes. It is important to take care of yourself and value your own goals for you to advocate sustainably and not burn out. If we promote livelihood and life for the environment, marginalized groups, survivors of violence, and more than we must show the same love to ourselves. Going forward, I will keep in mind what I have learned from my talk with Jamie close to my heart and my actions. I hope you will do the same.
Jamie's Activism and Work Zero Hour - http://thisiszerohour.org
Youth to Power - https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/tit...
Lavender You podcast - https://lavenderyou.com
Art Majors - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VhKY...
YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/c/JamieMargol...
A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support.
Nonviolence International celebrates the life, legacy, and moral clarity of Desmond Tutu.
Along with many all over the world, we mourn the news of the death of one of our time's greatest advocates for active nonviolence. While we celebrate his enduring legacy, we must ask - what can we do to prove worthy of the example he set for all of us?
NVI’s Founder, Mubarak Awad, celebrates his friend Desmond Tutu & calls on us to not only remember his unflinching moral vision and joyous spirit, but also to take seriously his legacy by boldly facing the challenges before us.
“The Arch” as he was fondly known in his native South Africa was a shining light onto the nations. He put his unshakable faith into effective action. He should be remembered not only for his visionary, tireless, and loving activism against the brutal apartheid system, but also for his decades of moral consistency.
He was a person of enormous courage that few can match. It is hard to understand or emulate his greatness, but we know he would call on all of us to do whatever we can even when facing difficult circumstances.
We remember his distinctive laugh and his personal warmth and kindness, but also note that he was scathing in his critique of the powerful and his constant call for justice.
His profound faith led him to provide a moral compass for his nation and the world. His righteous indignation never ceased to amaze and inspire. He spoke with deep insights about the need to abolish all nuclear weapons, to raise up the humanity of Palestinians, and when some in his church questioned his support for gay rights he said, "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."
He stood along side young leaders seeking a better future and made clear his commitment to ending the climate crisis saying, “Through the power of our collective action we can hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up their mess. The good news is that we don't have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have identified climate change as the biggest challenge of our time, and already begun to do something about it.”
Personally, I've been inspired by his warmth and wisdom for decades. In 1994, when he first cast a ballot he danced with joy, I celebrated with him and wrote a piece for The Nonviolent Activist. I wrote that piece while serving on the National Committee of the War Resisters League along with Matt Mayer, who just wrote this beautiful piece for the International Peace Research Association and Waging Nonviolence. “The Arch” inspired many of us. Ken Butigan of Campaign Nonviolence shared this lovely remembrance. The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation posted this moving tribute.
We thank you for all you gave and will strive to build a world shaped by the values that guided your life. Your vision will light our path forward even as we mourn your loss.
As usual, Democracy Now does a wonderful job covering this great leader. They provide an important overview and then let us hear once again from him - in his own words.
Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, was the archbishop of Cape Town and chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He died on December 26th, 2021
In the wake of the tragedy in Oxford, Michigan, many questions have been raised about gun violence, and school safety. On November 30th, 2021, at approximately 1pm one troubled 15 year old student opened fire on fellow students at Oxford High School. While the student was quickly detained, the impact of this event left many students, faculty, and staff traumatized, numerous injured, and forever took the lives of 4 students. Since this incident, schools are reporting a high number of copycat threats made, which have forced many to close out of precaution for their students. While many officials believe that this individual acted alone, this incident opens up a conversation about the responsibility of school administration in protecting students. Paige and I will discuss our personal experiences associated with preparing for active shooter situations, and address the general ideas associated with the topic of gun violence. Our passion for nonviolence, and activism at Nonviolence International propelled our dedication to recognize the events in the metro Detroit area. Growing up in Northern Michigan, and studying in the Oakland community, I want to acknowledge the pain and grief that my community faces, and recall the potential strategies to help students feel secure in an academic environment.
Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of an active school shooting In the United States, and it will not be the last until we see change in gun control. Since 1970, the United States has had 1,316 school shootings and this number is increasing. Students across the United States and world are being trained to protect themselves in the classroom. Below we discuss both of our experiences in active shooter training and how preparation for a shooting benefits and harms students.
Lea: “During my first year at Oakland University, my school gained national recognition for suggesting the use of hockey pucks in an active shooter situation. The idea sparked from a comment made by the campus Police Chief, who suggested that the hockey pucks could be used in emergency situations. While the technique appeared immature, and insufficient, the overall movement to give hockey pucks to college students built a stronger push to support campus security. The distribution and sale of the hockey pucks were linked to a fundraising campaign that paid for classroom locks, and other safety measures. I think the success of this campaign highlighted the efforts made by faculty and students to protect their fellow Grizzlies, but also illustrated the lack of accountability of the administration in allocating funds towards this project.
Similarly, I know that this tragedy has deeply impacted the lives of many families in the area. Many of my classmates grew up in the area, or have family members that work, or go to school in Oxford. In the past few weeks since, Oakland University, various high schools, and other institutions have offered mental health services to help those in grief, and various community leaders have hosted vigils to support the families of those victims and survivors. The Oxford tragedy deeply transformed the Oakland community, and united the metro Detroit area. I am hopeful that this unity continues, and leads to significant changes in legislation to address problems like gun pollution and male violence.”
Paige: “In my last two years of high school, my high school looked at the dangers of rising school shootings and the unfortunate bomb threats we had received. My administrators decided that students should undergo ALICE training for an active shooter response. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The main elements to ALICE training were strong communication on the location of a potential shooter, acting on the defensive without fighting (building barricades, creating distractions, etc.), and leaving when the area was safe.
During an ALICE drill, we were told ahead of time that we would be doing the drill on a certain date but the time was unknown to resemble the unexpected behavior of a shooter. Later an individual masking as an active shooter would enter the school with a blow horn. We then began following ALICE as receptionists alerted the school, students near the shooter locked their doors and hid, and students far from the shooter exited and walked to a close by school. After the training, the student body would gather in the other school as our principal told us how many students “died” and how we did with the overall training. At the end of this, we would return to our regular school day.
While going through ALICE training prepared me for an active shooter, it also stripped away my idea that school was a safe place to learn. While I never consciously considered if my school was unsafe, my teachers telling us potential classroom items that could be our weapons and our escape routes shattered my assumed perception of safety. It is a harsh reality students must face to protect themselves.”
Lea: “Moreover, I know that my high school often held lockdown drills to prepare students for active shooter situations. Unfortunately, students did not take these drills seriously, and I felt relatively unprepared in the instance of a lockdown. While I grew up in a relatively small community in Northern Michigan, I wished that more schools adopted trainings, and extensive drills that encourage students to recognize the risk of active shooter situations, to take responsibility for holding school administration accountable, and to communicate potential threats in the area. Based on my experiences, I felt underprepared, and ill-informed on how to manage active shooter situations. Sadly, these strategies to better prepare and inform students do not solve the larger societal issues at hand. We need drastic change, and political activism to curate deep, and lasting change."
How do students respond to school shootings? While we are speaking from the perspective of a middle class, suburbians, outside of mandatory school trainings, we have seen students hold discussions on potential solutions, participate in walkouts, advocate for their lives to their school administration, honor the lives of victims, and so much more. Students have taken nonviolent means to end violent action. Their bravery in advocacy has brought significant attention to the prevalence of gun violence in schools but students are still waiting on legislation that will create formidable change. Instead of asking students to prepare for the worst, our leaders must pass legislation and take action that favors students and helps prevent active shootings in schools.
March for Our Lives (April, 2018)
Paige: “I remember my school participated in a National Walkout Day where students across America left their schools, holding signs that called for an end to gun violence and the need for legislators, school administrators, and communities to act. When walking those couple of miles, we were not just advocating for our safety but also, we were fighting for our lives and our need to be safe in schools.
The lack of action from our leaders is an action against our lives. Until we see change, I know the students after me will not give up. We will walk-out of our schools, speak to our administrators, and keep a conversation going on our safety until we see change. Until our lives are valued and protected.”
In acknowledging the events in Oxford, and the significant threat that gun violence poses to our youth, Nonviolence International (NVI) seeks to inspire our communities, and loved ones to take action, and support the protests against gun violence. We hope that through discussing the events in Oxford, we can work to provide our resources and knowledge on this topic.
Here is what you can do to help:
We are calling for action beyond searching school backpacks and red flag laws. We need radical reform to reverse the US Supreme Court’s new interpretation of the 2nd amendment, efforts to ban semi and automatic weapons, and more laws to protect children from gun use. Gun violence is yet another symptom of the epidemic of violence in our communities. NVI calls on all people everywhere to rise up against the forces of dehumanization and destruction all around us. We are stronger together, please join us in protecting our students.
A few weeks ago the police abruptly came to my house in Jerusalem on two different occasions. The first visit they paid was at 3:30 in the morning; six officers came and banged on the doors and windows until my four roommates and I woke up.
My roommates and I were suspected of having drawn graffiti earlier that night in central Jerusalem. The graffiti in question was a part of a wider campaign to raise awareness about Masafer Yatta, an area in the South Hebron Hills that Israel declared a military training area (Firing Zone 918) in the early 1980s. In March, the Israeli Supreme Court will decide whether the Israeli army can expel the 12 Palestinian villages and hundreds of residents that live there.
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Over the past year, I have seen and been a part of an inspiring growth in Jewish-Palestinian solidarity in support of Masafer Yatta. Where previously international volunteers supported the villages in the South Hebron Hills, the travel closures from the pandemic have inadvertently nurtured local relationships, as Israelis have taken the place of volunteers documenting settler violence and escorting children to school. While the Israeli state works to keep Jews and Palestinians separate, we commit ourselves together to building a better and shared future.
There has predictably been a crackdown on the Jewish activists who have dared to stand with Palestinians and build these connections. In Jerusalem, Jewish-Israeli activists were detained in the night after putting up posters about what is happening in Masafer Yatta. The same day I was arrested, three additional Jewish-Israeli activists were also arrested and two more detained after an altercation between a settler and a Palestinian near a-Tuwani, a village in the South Hebron Hills. The home where the activists had been staying in a-Tuwani was raided by Israeli police and military, who confiscated laptops, cameras, and cellphones belonging to the home’s resident, in addition to a Jeep that belonged to the activists.
The intensity of these efforts to shut down our solidarity demonstrates just how potent it is. Now, when Israeli authorities are ramping up their efforts to suppress cooperation between us, is the time to deepen our connections, renew our efforts and take stronger stands against the system of occupation Palestinians live under every day.
We are attacked because we are feared, because we have a fighting chance of stopping the onslaught of violence, suppression and expulsion being carried out by Israel every day. Now is not the time to let up.
Many of us are searching for realistic reasons for hope in these hard times.
I often find taking action in solidarity with others can help.
I am grateful to be able to raise up important recent developments with our wonderful partner US Boats to Gaza.
No Distance Will Ever Divide Us: Palestine Is In the Heart
She celebrates the ambulances that have just arrived in Gaza - thanks, in part, to our generous donors - and challenges the dangerous and false designation of respected human rights groups being labeled as "terrorists."
Please see her beautiful and moving blog at Alice's Garden.
Please consider making a donation to support their important work.
We celebrate a moment that we have been working towards for years - actually decades. Nonviolence International's longtime director, Michael Beer, has released his first book and it's an important one. Michael has updated Gene Sharp's seminal text training the world in the value of nonviolent tactics. We are pleased that our friends at ICNC, who published this book, have now translated it into both Spanish and Farsi. Get your copy and sign up to help below.
Watch this short video of Michael Beer explaining the essence of his book in under five minutes. Michael explains why he chose to write this book now and what he hopes his book will inspire in the future.
NVI hosted an interactive webinar with Michael Beer, Jamila Raqib of the Albert Einstein Institution founded by Gene Sharp, and Véronique Dudouet of the Berghof Foundation.
In partnership with our friends at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Michael presented his new book. When you have time, please watch the full inspirational conversation, but don't miss our request for your help below. As Michael said at the end of the webinar, "being active is the essence of nonviolence." We look forward to working with you to promote our shared values.
Many years ago, when I studied Peace and Conflict as an undergrad and later in grad school, we loved Gene's book and even then we felt it was outdated. Finally, decades later when the world has changed so dramatically, someone is updating that foundational work. Whoever was doing this would have my active support. I'm proud it is my friend and colleague at NVI, Michael, and ask for your help getting this important book widely distributed. More on this vital next step below.
Creative nonviolence is always evolving and growing, but since Gene wrote the internet has fundamentally changed the nature of our world and thus our work. So we are launching this new book along with an interactive database of nonviolent tactics. This database celebrates our collective wisdom and our capacity to come together - in the face of massive challenges - and find powerful nonviolent ways to protest and to help build the new emerging world.
To say that we find ourselves at a difficult time is a massive understatement. Our society is dangerously addicted to violence. NVI believes that change has come in the past and will come in the future from social movements seizing our power and paving a way to a brighter future.
NVI is under-resourced for the challenges before us including doing justice to this mission-critical book launch. So, I must do what activists do, and that is ask for your help.
I have several key goals in mind related to this book launch. One is a strong desire to get this book into the hands of those who need it most. To me, that includes those studying nonviolence, peace, and conflict resolution as well as those acting to create a better world. We do not seek to replace Gene's book in classrooms, but instead, hope to supplement that still vital text with Michael's expanded take and online database. Can you help us achieve that goal? Are you a teacher who might know how to go about getting books into the classroom from high school through graduate studies?
We still do not have an active Communications Action Team (nor a Development Action Team). If you believe, as I do, that the world needs to learn about the power of NV tactics, please consider helping us make this book launch impactful. If you can volunteer your time and talents, please contact me. If you can make a gift to support this work, please do so here.
This book belongs on the virtual bookshelf of anyone who is studying or practicing nonviolent action.
For scholars: This book updates Gene Sharp’s 1973 seminal work Methods of Nonviolent Action, reworking Sharp’s classifications to include 148 additional tactics.
For trainers and teachers: Brief yet comprehensive, this overview of nonviolence explains the mechanisms by which nonviolent actions succeed.
For activists: This resource, in conjunction with Nonviolence International’s inspirational Nonviolent Tactics Database and our partnership with Rutgers University's International Institute for Peace our Nonviolence Training Archive, enlarges the activist toolbox. This monograph will serve as a foundational text not only “in the field” of action, but also in classrooms studying nonviolent action, civil resistance, peacebuilding, and creative conflict resolution around the world.
For everyone: If you wish to join the team to promote this inspirational text, fill out this form so we know how you can help move this effort forward. You can also help us promote the book over social media. This toolkit provides tips and directions on how you can be most helpful on social media platforms! Followed by images used to promote this text, here's an example of the type of post most helpful to this effort:
Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco and editor, author, and co-author of publications on Nonviolence, Middle-Eastern Policy, and War
“The use of strategic nonviolent resistance has grown dramatically worldwide in the nearly fifty years since Gene Sharp documented his now-famous 198 methods of nonviolent action. Since that time, scores of additional methods have been utilized and the theoretical understanding of civil resistance has grown tremendously. Michael Beer has brought us up to date with this impressive monograph with a revised, expanded, and recategorized list which is a must-read for both scholars and activists.”
Senior researcher and program director at the Berghof Foundation and author of many publications on nonviolent action and civil resistance
"Michael Beer’s new Monograph “Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century” fully meets its ambitious goal of revisiting the field of nonviolent action in light of recent tactical and strategic innovations. Influenced by Gene Sharp’s seminal categorization of civil resistance methods – which remains an authoritative reference among activists and scholars alike – Beer adapts it to the contemporary realities of nonviolent activism. The rich array of approaches and cultural practices covered in this study is fascinating, with illustrations ranging from ‘maximalist’ campaigns to sectorial struggles for rights, justice, accountability and sustainability across the globe. It helpfully outlines distinctions between disruptive and constructive resistance, and between acts of expression, omission and commission. In particular, the monograph explores in detail positive inducements such as appeals, refraining acts, and creative intervention, which bring to light the constructive dimension of civil resistance. Moreover, it usefully spells out the ‘frontiers’ between nonviolent action and overlapping practices that belong to the domains of institutional, violent, third-party or support intervention. This monograph will be both highly valuable for activists who are interested in learning about the rich plurality of nonviolent methods to pursue social change, and for researchers to think creatively about new ways to systematize tactics and methods in relation to broader strategies and campaigns."
Maria J. Stephan
American Political Scientist and former Director of the program on nonviolent action at the United States Institute of Peace
"In his ambitious new monograph, Michael Beer explores the expanding universe of nonviolent tactics and helps us make sense of them. Building on Gene Sharp’s 198 methods of nonviolent action and integrating the frameworks of many other scholars and practitioners, Beer offers a revised and updated table and classification system for analyzing nonviolent tactics. His account, brimming with global applications of lesser-known tactics (exs. kiss-ins, virtual reality games, and reverse strikes) shines a light on creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability of activists, organizers, and movement leaders around the world. I expect that this new classification of tactics will be of great use to activists, academics, and practitioners seeking to strategize, understand, and support nonviolent campaigns and movements around the world - particularly in our new digital age."
Co-author of "Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding" and the author of 10 other books on peacebuilding and social movements
“Stuck with just a few tactics in your go-to list for making social change? This book offers clear, compelling, creative options for making nonviolent action more effective and more engaging.”
Former Director of Amnesty International USA
“Awesome book for every human rights defender doing actions outside the court system.”
Renowned scholar and professor of Resistance Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"This is a unique summary of nonviolent tactics that attempts to create a synthesis that brings several different existing definitions and categorizations. It is an ambitious compilation of different approaches to how to describe "nonviolent tactics," which avoids many of the existing inconsistencies and problems with suggested categorizations. And, in a great contribution to the practical needs of activists and the field of nonviolent action studies, Beer arrives at the most expansive mapping of the rich repertoire of tactics that I have ever seen. It is a must-read for scholars, activists and organizers of campaigns."
Senior Professorial Lecturer in the School of International Service at American University and Peace Educator of the Year
“This book is an invaluable tool for constructively transforming the current challenges roiling the US and the globe. Please join me in using this in your classrooms."
(From left to right) Mubarak El-Amin, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Steve Williamson celebrate Michael’s new book!