Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Thich Nhat Hanh

Written by Nimesh Wijewardane 

Thich Nhat Hanh at the Plum Village monastery in southern France | Credit: Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism

On January 22, 2022, the world lost an extraordinary spiritual leader. Thich Nhat Hanh was a world-renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and prolific author and poet. He was a beloved teacher and a guiding light, affectionately called Thay by his followers, the Vietnamese word for teacher. I count myself among the many people whose lives have been touched and profoundly transformed by his wisdom and compassion. Thay coined the term “Engaged Buddhism”, arguing that Buddhism, properly understood, is not merely about individual liberation but collective liberation, that Buddhists cannot simply retreat from the world and all its concerns and attain Nirvana in isolation but instead must engage in political and social struggles against oppression and injustice. Thay recognized that a religious community cannot simply stay on the sidelines but must take a stand. He tirelessly promoted nonviolent solutions to conflict and encouraged us to open our eyes to the interdepence of all living beings on Earth, and once aware of this state of “interbeing” to not only avoid harming human life but to also avoid harming nonhuman animals and the natural world. For Thay, nonviolence was a way of life, rooted in this idea of interbeing. He wrote, “Nonviolent action, born of the awareness of suffering and nurtured by love, is the most effective way to confront adversity.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh was born Nguyen Xuan Bao in the city of Hue in central Vietnam. At age 16, he joined a Zen monastery. After several years, he took the official vows of monk and became active in the youth-led Buddhist reform movement in Vietnam. Thay taught and wrote about Buddhism, seeking to make Buddhism more relevant to the modern world. Thay’s growing popularity threatened the conservative Buddhist establishment, who discontinued a journal he had been editing and canceled his classes. 

In response to this opposition, Thay went to the United States in 1961 to study comparative religion at the Princeton Theological Seminary and later became a lecturer in Buddhism at Columbia. Yet aware of the suffering in his homeland, he returned to South Vietnam in 1963 to engage in peace work alongside fellow monks. Since 1954, Vietnam had been divided between the Communist North and the pro-West South, with ongoing armed struggle between the government of South Vietnam and the communist guerrillas. Thay founded the School of Youth for Social Services, a grassroots relief organization consisting of over 10,000 volunteers which established schools and health care clinics in rural South Vietnam and helped rebuild bombed villages. In 1964, Thay published an anti-war poem titled “Condemnation”, writing "whoever is listening, be my witness: I cannot accept this war...". The poem was denounced as pro-communist propaganda. Thay’s conception of Engaged Buddhism grew from the bloodstained soil of the war in Vietnam. In an interview with the Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar, Thay said, “When bombs begin to fall on people, you cannot stay in the meditation hall all of the time. Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on—not only in your body and in your feelings, but all around you.” 

In February 1966, Thay ordained six leaders who had been part of the School of Youth for Social Services and established a new religious order, the Order of Interbeing, a community of Buddhist monks, nuns, and laypeople based on the Five Mindfulness Trainings and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, modern versions of the precepts Buddhists have practiced for centuries. These mindfulness trainings include living with a vocation that harms neither humans nor nature; and living in accord with the ideals of compassion, protection of life, and prevention of war. Since the 1960s, The Order of Interbeing has grown into an international movement. 

Thay traveled to the US in May 1966 to enlighten the American public about the Vietnam War’s devastating impact and appeal the US government to cease its bombing campaign. During that visit, Thay met with Martin Luther King Jr. and urged him to publicly denounce the Vietnam War. At a press conference with Thay, King spoke out against the war for the first time. In 1967, King gave a famous speech at Riverside Church boldly articulating his opposition to the Vietnam War. Later that year, King nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, writing “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.” 

Thay’s 1996 trip to the US was only meant to last a few weeks, but turned into decades of exile. After he presented a peace plan urging America to stop bombing and to offer reconstruction aid without ideological strings, the government of South Vietnam declared him a traitor and banned him from returning. After the Communists seized control of the South in 1975, he was again refused permission to enter Vietnam. His principled anti-war stance had made him an enemy of both sides. 

In exile, Thay settled in the south of France and established the Plum Village Monastery, which would be his new home for decades, and remains the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe and America. Thay became one of the main ambassadors of Buddhism to the West, writing more than 100 books and bringing the concept of mindfulness into the mainstream. Thay spoke out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, “We know very well that airplanes, guns and bombs cannot remove wrong perceptions. Only loving speech and compassionate listening can help people correct wrong perceptions. But our leaders are not trained in that discipline, and they rely only on the armed forces to remove terrorism.” He encouraged us to address the root causes of violence and cultivate peace in our hearts. Thay brought together Israelis and Palestinians for peacebuilding retreats at Plum Village, continuing his lifelong commitment to ending conflict. Thay also spoke out about the urgency of addressing climate change, writing, “There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. Our personal and collective happiness and survival depends on it.” Throughout his writings, interviews, and speeches he continued to draw connections between the personal and the collective, promoting mindfulness not merely as a tool for self-help but as a necessary precondition for avoiding war and climate catastrophe. 

Thay’s teachings have had a significant impact on me. In my Sri Lankan American family, I was raised as a Buddhist, but in my teenage years, I had begun to drift away from Buddhism, questioning whether I truly believed in its precepts, whether it was truly applicable to my life, and unsure of how Buddhism aligned with my political convictions. Buddhism, at least the kind practiced by those in my Sri Lankan American community, seemed to be apolitical, almost entirely detached from and unconcerned with issues of oppression and injustice. But as a high school student on the Internet, I was lucky enough to stumble upon some of Thay’s writings in the online Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar. I was struck by the beauty and simplicity of Thay’s words, the ease at which he distilled the abstract and somewhat complicated ideas of dharma in a clear and compelling way. Each perfectly crafted sentence seemed intuitively true. Engaged Buddhism gave me a framework with which to reconcile my faith and my political activism. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I am a Buddhist not merely because of my upbringing but because of Thich Nhat Hanh. During my freshman year of college I struggled with loneliness and depression but on one bright February afternoon I found “The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh”, a small collection of some of his writings, in an independent bookstore in Georgetown and bought it. In spring, I would sit outside in the quad of George Washington University’s Mount Vernon campus and read Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, which brought me comfort, reminded me of the temporality of all things, and encouraged me to bear witness to the miracle of life. Sitting on a wooden bench, watching the world ablaze with sunlight and contemplating Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, I felt pretty close to enlightenment. Thay has a beautiful phrase-“No mud, no lotus”, a reminder that happiness and suffering are deeply intertwined, that you can’t have one without the other. Whenever I find myself dealing with a difficult situation, I chant that phrase to myself, over and over- “No mud, no lotus.” 

Thay wrote that birth and death are but illusions, that we are never really born and never really die. I know that Thay will continue to live on in in the hearts and minds of all the people who have been awakened and inspired by his life and his teachings. 

 

Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy

 Thich Nhat Hanh, World-Renowned Teacher of Nonviolence, Has Passed Away

Nonviolence International celebrates the life and legacy of Thich Nhat Hanh

Check out our Many Faces of Nonviolence profile of this great leader here

His community at Plum Village shared the following note with the world.

"With a deep mindful breath, we announce the passing of our beloved teacher, Thay Nhat Hanh, at 01:30hrs on January 22, 2022 at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at the age of 95.

Thay has been the most extraordinary teacher, whose peace, tender compassion, and bright wisdom has touched the lives of millions. Whether we have encountered him on retreats, at public talks, or through his books and online teachings–or simply through the story of his incredible life–we can see that Thay has been a true bodhisattva, an immense force for peace and healing in the world. Thay has been a revolutionary, a renewer of Buddhism, never diluting and always digging deep into the roots of Buddhism to bring out its authentic radiance.

Thay has opened up a beautiful path of Engaged and Applied Buddhism for all of us: the path of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. As Thay would say, “Because we have seen the path, we have nothing more to fear.” We know our direction in life, we know what to do, and what not to do to relieve suffering in ourselves, in others, and in the world; and we know the art of stopping, looking deeply, and generating true joy and happiness.

Now is a moment to come back to our mindful breathing and walking, to generate the energy of peace, compassion, and gratitude to offer our beloved Teacher. It is a moment to take refuge in our spiritual friends, our local sanghas and community, and each other." 

For those interested in learning more about this amazing teacher, please visit their site. and check out the video below from Democracy Now to hear him speak in his own words.

He led each of us to be more true to ourselves and find our own path to peace.

Grateful for his glorious loving light and teaching.

His light shines on in the many he touched all over this beautiful and broken world.

Spotlight on Nonviolence - YaliniDream

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.  



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The Two-State Solution Is Dead-Now What? Webinar

We Are All Part of One Another - Webinar Series

The Two-State Solution Is Dead-Now What? 

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 

SPEAKERS:

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.

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Jamie Margolin

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. 


 

Desmond Tutu, Nobel peace laureate, has a message for the future

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 

Two NVI Interns Reflect on Impact of Gun Violence and Call on Us to Do Better

By: Lea Hilliker and Paige Wright, Nonviolence International Interns

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:

  1. Donate to the victims and survivors of the Oakland school shooting, organizations that advocate for gun control like the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, and nonviolence promoters like NVI or our partners.
  2. Support research into gun violence.
  3. Sign petitions to give our students more protection.
  4. If you are in the United States, message your representatives calling for more gun control.
  5. Join movements such as the youth-led March for Lives to promote change.

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.

Our Partner's Powerful Piece in the Forward

I was arrested for a crime I didn’t commit. The Palestinians I work with suffer far worse

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.

Israel apartheid protest by the Forward

(article continues - y

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.

A couple stand on a salt island formed in the Dead Sea, facing the mountains of Jordan. by the Forward

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.

 

 

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