The brutal occupation of Palestine is likely to get even more repressive in the coming weeks and months. The new coalition government in Israel includes unrepentant haters and racists. They have wasted no time showing their true colors. The impacts will be immediate, widespread, and as usual those harmed the most will be Palestinians.
People who have been paying attention know that the occupation has been supported by successive governments of all parties. And still we recognize we are entering a new and dangerous moment. We will work to make sure that this is also a time with the potential for real and lasting positive change.
During this time, we will see suffering increase and we must urge people to open their eyes to the reality of the situation. We must find ways to make the power of active nonviolence relevant to this struggle. NVI co-founder Jonathan Kuttab wrote,
"Successive Israeli governments have pursued these goals steadfastly, while pretending that their aim was security and that their aspirations were for peace with Palestinians, not domination over them. The new Israeli government abandons all such pretense, rips off the mask, and dares the world to do something about it.
Acknowledging that reality is the first necessary step towards addressing it. When Israel determined it wanted to be a Jewish state, and further that it wanted to keep all the land of historic Palestine, the results were inevitable. The only two options Israel allows for are ethnic cleansing or apartheid. Calls for democracy and equality (where democracy includes giving Palestinians [50% of the population] the vote and a stake in running the country) are totally rejected.
The good news is that with this new government, the mask is off, and many people can see the reality. This includes a majority of the Jewish people in the United states and their supporters, who have always been liberal, democratic, and in favor of progressive values. Facing the reality of Israel may be painful for many of them, but it is an important first step towards seeking a new solution based on equality and human dignity, and which would also bring healing and peace."
Tallie Ben-Daniel, the managing director of Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), said the new Israeli government has openly embraced apartheid.
“The horrifying actions of this new government, only five days in, prove exactly what Palestinians have been saying all along: Israel is an apartheid state, where Palestinians are treated as inferior. The dangerous escalations by the new Israeli government make clear that now is the time for action.”
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wrote,
“Not even one week into 2023, the new far-right apartheid government is moving to ethnically cleanse entire communities—which would displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents, including 500 children. All with American backing, bulldozers, and bullets. #SaveMasaferYatta”
In the face of increased repression, our friends and allies are continuing and expanding their bold, creative, constructive nonviolent resistance.
Please spread the word about the reality of the situation and urge others to visit this page, learn more, and take action.
(At the bottom of this page, you will find background information from NVI and others.)
For those wanting to learn more about the Palestinian struggle for freedom, please see these NVI resources below. Below the NVI resources are primers welcoming people who are not yet immersed in the conversation.
Jonathan Kuttab's Book - Beyond the Two-State Solution
The Many Faces of Nonviolence - A Taste of Palestine
Gaza: Cruelty Without Consequences
Important Update: Nonviolence International Stands in Solidarity with Al-Haq
Raising Up Impressive Group Challenging GBV in Palestine
Music is the Healing Force of the Universe!
Our Partner's Powerful Piece in the Forward.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Rachel Corrie
Expand our Compassion to Include Palestinians
The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Ann Wright
Beyond The Two-State Solution, by Jonathan Kuttab. Interactive webinar.
Co-Resistance and Solidarity with Palestine - Webinar
Writer from Gaza Reflects on the Two State Solution
Spotlight on Nonviolence - Huwaida Arraf
A Video Featuring Ahmed Alnaouq, founder of WANN
A Jew Asks Questions of Two Palestinians in a Time of War
Holy Land Trust's Founder Sami Awad's Wonderful Take on Active Nonviolence - Webinar
Courage Along The Divide - Produced and Directed by Victor Schonfeld 1986
The Popular University of the Palestinian Youth Movement Presents - OUR HISTORY OF POPULAR RESISTANCE: PALESTINE READING LIST
Palestine-Israel Primer - MERIP
Your Guide to Difficult Conversations About Israel/Palestine
Israel-Palestine animated introduction
Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories
For those interested in learning more about state by state US legislation, please see this impressive map from Palestine Legal. They tell us, "The right to stand for justice is under attack. Politicians are pushing unconstitutional laws to stop the movement for Palestinian freedom and shield Israel from criticism."
Primer on the Arab-Israeli Conflict - TeachMideast
A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution | HRW
Not a "vibrant democracy". This is apartheid.: | B'Tselem
The Israel Apartheid Report Database
Do you have suggestions for other high quality introductory material we should consider including?
If so, please contact us.
And, of course, please help spread the word. Ask people to visit this page, learn, and take action.
(Art Credit - Kayla Ginsburg - from CJNV)
Civil society in Sudan is calling on all Sudanese and the world to fly white flags for a ceasefire and a return to democracy.
Unfortunately, the Sudanese Army has threatened anyone calling for a ceasefire as a traitor to the army and the nation. Fighting has been particularly severe in Khartoum and in the west of Sudan. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Wednesday that as many as 2.5 million more people could slip into hunger in Sudan as a result of the conflict, raising the number of people suffering acute food insecurity to 19 million.
More than 700,000 people are now internally displaced by battles that began on April 15, and another 150,000 have fled the country, UN agencies said this week.
People in Khartoum are without food, water, and cash. Electricity and internet are intermittent.
Many people have died. All the major factories of Khartoum have been destroyed.
Besides just trying to survive, Sudanese civil society is largely united in calling for a ceasefire and return to Democracy. Here is a political statement of the Civilian Front to Stop the War and Restore Democracy, that was largely organized by the neighborhood committees and has wide support.
Please fly a white flag at your home and on your social media.
Here are photos from Sudan of white flags flying outside homes and buildings. Thes are flown often a personal risk.
US groups are speaking up as well as people in Sudan.
The Adams Center in Virginia USA speaks out strongly for a ceasefire.
Friends Peace Teams from many countries meeting in Pennsylvania call out for a ceasefire and a transition to democracy in Sudan.
To see NVI's earlier work on Sudan, please visit this page.
We met Diah Kusumaningrum, an impressive nonviolent trainer and activist, through collaboration on our Malaysia training.
She just shared with us this impressive report. As far as we know, there is no place else in the world where there has been an ongoing effort to catalogue every nonviolent direct action. They use Gene Sharp's groundbreaking work on NV Tactics and kindly thank NVI's own Michael Beer in this report.
This important work not only records and categoriezes NVDA, but also makes important suggestions on how to increase our impact.
NVI is inspired by all the good work being done around the world. Even as struggle to face the painful reality of the as it is, people everywhere are building towards a better future.
As usual, the annual reflection has 4 parts -- respectively, on Indonesia, maximalist campaigns around the world, issue-based campaigns across the globe, and a special topic.
The first part underlines how nonviolent resistance in Indonesia has stagnated in 2022 and suggests building a number of infrastructures of resistance to overcome it.
The second part highlights how a number of maximalist campaigns around the world stagnated, transformed into (or from) reformist campaigns, or emerged in 2022.
The third offers a global outlook on a number of issue-based campaigns: gender equality, climate justice, and workers’ rights.
The fourth looks into nonviolent resistance in the face of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, calling for the need to revisit and revamp the literature on nonviolent defense and civilian-based defense.
Damai Pangkal Damai is a database project that records nonviolent actions that took place in Indonesia 1999 onwards -- that is, after the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship. Its database can be accessed here: ugm.id/DPDdatabase (case sensitive), its monthly kaleidoscope through Instagram @damaipangkaldamai, and its other products here: linktr.ee/DamaiPangkalDamai
Please feel free to forward the above information to your networks. Also, please do not hesitate to write to me if you have ideas for collaboration or you’d like to be a contributor to next year’s reflection or next month's kaleidoscope. If scholars on democracy studies can put together several annual reports on the state of democracy worldwide, I don’t see why a group of scholars on civil resistance can’t put together an annual reflection on the matter that’s close to their heart.
With thanks to The Fellowship of Reconciliation
and our former fiscally sponsored partner, Waging Nonviolence,
here is my latest article they just published.
Please help spread the word and get this in front of people who don't yet agree with us.
NVI is interested in supporting efforts to provide direct relief to the residents of Huwara.
If you can, please consider making a donation.
If you give, please let us know it is for this purpose.
Earlier this month, I attended the large Jewish-led demonstration in Washington, D.C. (un)welcoming Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich to the U.S. We gathered in the cold rain to say that his remarks celebrating a brutal pogrom — and suggesting the state should take over from the settlers and “wipe out” a Palestinian town — are morally unacceptable and antithetical to the values at the core of our faith. We agree that, in this moment, the future of Israeli democracy is being decided.
I found it quite moving to be among so many Jews united in our outrage and concern. It strikes me that there is much agreement among those gathered, and I get the impression that there are important potential disagreements we should discuss openly. First, let’s focus on the points of agreement between us. Since the protest was organized around letting Smotrich know he doesn’t represent us or Judaism, we can assume there is consensus in opposing his rhetoric and policies.
My ancestors fled Eastern Europe running from violent pogroms. I never imagined that my people — the people of the book and of the Exodus — would make the word “pogrom” relevant and force us to face its clear painful definition. But sadly that is where we are. Turning away from this reality does not make it any less real, but instead blocks our chances of co-creating positive change.
So we stood together in Washington, D.C. to call us forward to a better future. I assume we also agree that Smotrich and his ilk can’t define us out of Judaism. Those who have such a narrow, limited, unloving view of Judaism must not be allowed to decide if we, the vast majority of the world’s Jews, are indeed Jewish. I know who I am. They can never take my identity away from me. Nor yours from you.
I hope we also agree that we must actively oppose any attempts to use warped theological cover as an excuse for what comes down to Jewish supremacy. Every group should celebrate the unique beauty of their traditions, but whenever people suggest that “we” are somehow inherently better than “the other,” danger is close at hand. Anyone who pretends that a “Jewish soul” is superior to all others is warping our faith in a way that undermines our proud history. This belief is having a profound impact on key policy decisions and on people’s lives. Thus, we have a clear and ongoing obligation to call out this evil from within our community.
As Jews, our scripture makes clear that freedom is the universal right of all people. In this moment, I hope we can all agree that Palestinians are human beings deserving of the same basic rights as all other precious human beings. This should not be controversial, but sadly it clearly is.
As we mourn the current state of democracy in Israel, I hope we can also agree that the occupation is corrupting Judaism and leading us down a dangerous path. We were told the occupation was defensive in nature and only temporary. Anyone watching closely now knows that is not accurate. As those who long advocated for a two-state solution, we must admit that approach is no longer possible. Instead we are called to the difficult and essential task to find a way to live together.
Maybe those with me on the street that day are not yet in agreement about some of what I’ll raise below, but I hope — building on the major points of agreement above — we can engage in mutually respectful dialogue about these other vital issues. And, at the end of this piece, I offer an invitation to begin that conversation.
Some who gathered to greet Smotrich seem to be of the belief that all was well prior to the last election. They suggest that somehow we could restore a democracy by avoiding the worst excesses of this new extreme government. I’m not Israeli, but instead, like most on the street that day, I’m one of many American Jews who have cared about the region for years. When we came together to let Smotrich know he was not welcome, we brought with us a range of beliefs and approaches to street protest. Remember the old joke about a gathering of Jews always having one more opinion than people? It proved true that day.
I’ve organized many events and I understand the valid concern about message discipline. Still, it was troubling that those in the large group with many Israeli flags were harshly unwelcoming of Palestinian flags joining in. From my perspective, the image of those flags together better represents our deep concerns about Israeli democracy itself. With deliberate intent, Israelis have been told that the Palestinian flag is a symbol of hate. We’d be much better off if people could understand the flag and the familiar head scarf (keffiyeh) as symbols of a people whose basic human needs have not been met. Of course, that vast understatement does not adequately reflect the scope of Palestinian suffering that should concern us all.
It is self-evident to me that you can’t have a healthy democracy while actively implementing oppressive policies that demean the basic humanity of others. If you have another view, I’d like to understand it. I celebrate those standing up for democracy in Israel and ask them to extend their compassion to include Palestinians. It seems to me that any true understanding of democracy requires this simple and essential step.
The changes we need to make are systemic, and still we recognize that all systems are built on individual actions. What we each do over time creates the system we live in. Maybe if those of us who ended up on that same street, at the same time, can find a way to better understand each other, we can do our small part to help create that larger system-wide change we so desperately need. Having celebrated dialogue groups in the past, I now see both their power and their limitations. It seems they can give good-hearted caring people something meaningful to do while the oppressive structure remains firmly in place. Still, in these troubled times, I’m not willing to give up on communication between people, even those with fundamental disagreements.
So I invite each of you reading this to check out the Global Town Hall that took place on Tuesday, March 28. We gathered to hear from two renowned nonviolent Palestinian scholars and activists, one just returned to the U.S. and the other joining us while on a trip to the region. These smart visionary leaders are worth listening to.
Of course, this is not the only opportunity to listen to Palestinians or engage with others coming to terms with what is happening in the world these days. If you couldn’t make this particular conversation, please find others. Consider getting in touch with me and seeing what kind of forum we might craft together. In particular, I ask readers to help get this piece in front of the new organization UnXeptable and the longtime Progressive Israel Network, which both played key roles in the protest.
To all those who were with us on the street that day and to those with us in spirit, let’s build on our shared concern for peace and democracy in the region and be ready to listen and learn together as we seek a path forward to a better future. We all agree that we stand at a crossroads. For many of us, this perilous moment is deeply frightening, but we must not hide from that fear. I still believe that if we work together it might also prove to be a moment of opportunity. The veil has been lifted. Let us be brave enough to see clearly the challenges we face and together find a way to overcome them.
NVI is interested in supporting efforts to provide direct relief to the residents of Huwara.
If you can, please consider making a donation.
If you give, please let us know it is for this purpose.
(Art Credit - Kayla Ginsburg - from CJNV)
Once upon a time...
At a time of growing global crisis, a call went out across the land.
People gathered deep in the heart of the troubled empire’s capital - they were full of fear.
Democracy itself was being tested here and around the world.
Violence was built into the economic and social systems.
Hatred followed fear to every part of the globe.
And, at the darkest hour, the light of active nonviolence shown brightly.
More and more people signed up to receive Rivera Sun's Nonviolence News.
Through this free publication they were able to celebrate the youth-led, diverse, global movements claiming a better future.
They searched and came upon a wonderful array of free resources that helped build movements for peace, justice, and planet.
Together the celebrated and supported Nonviolence International's wonderful partners.
Still, many issues plagued the people.
As our tale begins, the concern focused on a swarm of runaway bees.
Yes, runaway bees in the heart of D.C.
What shall we do?
We rely on bees for so much of the food that sustains us.
We love bees, but have also grown to fear them.
They sting and swarm.
And, so the question was asked… who you goin’ call?
The Ghostbusters can’t help us.
We are alone and full of fear.
Just then a lone voice called out.
Quiet at first.
Soon joined by others.
We shall call the Bee Wrangler.
Maybe he can help!
He picked up the swarm and guided them to a new home. He knew that bees like humans are intensely social creatures. He and NVI know that social power has enormous potential to organize new homes and a new society. NVI is not alone in recognizing that we have much to learn from nature in general and bees in particular. For those interested in learning more, please see: Building-beehives-handbook-for-creating-communities This handbook outlines tools and techniques to create organizational communities and community events that provide strategic returns. Using beehives as a whimsical metaphor this book includes specific step-by-step techniques for bringing professionals together to collaborate and produce results.
You may know him as the person who wrote the book about Nonviolent Tactics, but he is also known locally as the Bee Wrangler. Send up the swarm notification and he will be there!
In addition to his beekeeping support services, NVI’s longtime director, Michael Beer, spoke recently with Science for Peace - a Canadian group about the Civil Rights Movement in the US.
Michael Beer shares learnings and re-learnings from the civil rights movement for social movements today. He stresses the need for nonviolence training and tune-ups. The need for strong civil society institutions such as religious groups and labor unions to sustain campaigns. The need to maximize participation particularly by women, girls and the elderly, since they are the majority of the population and that violence by young men often discourages broader participation.
Michael talks about his book Civil Resistance Tactics of the 21st Century. Building on the work of Gene Sharp, Beer has added new tactics and new categories of action to our understanding of nonviolence today.
Michael joined the celebration of former NVI staff leader, Andrés Thomas Conteris 60th Birthday!
While at NVI from 2002-2016, he served as Program Director of the Americas.
The GREAT Joanna Macy joined the PARTY!
So did the wonderful David Hartsough
From March 15 to 19th, 2023, NVI Director, Michael Beer joined 75 nonviolent activists from 40 countries in Nepal to strengthen global solidarity, particularly in the global south. We compared stories of organizing campaigns, prisons, and social movements. A child soldier shared stories of organizing for their rights in Nepal, Latin America activists shared the stories of women organizing to find and remember their disappeared loved ones, and African and Myanmar activists shared their struggles against dictators. To learn more about this new transnational network that NVI is fiscally sponsoring, please read more below.
We discussed the current reality on the ground and how to support each other at this difficult time.
0:00 - Tess Greenwood's powerful framing remarks
6:07 - Jonathan Kuttab's moving reflections
22:05 - Mohammed Abu-Nimer's insightful remarks
41:15 - Q&A starting with NVI founder, Mubarak Awad
113:33 - Cosponsors share about their vital work
Our experts, Jonathan Kuttab and Mohammed Abu-Nimer, took time to answer audience questions we didn't have the opportunity to address during the webinar.
Q: How can we lift up Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank in our conversation about Jonathan's book, Beyond the Two State Solution?
A: Unlike the Oslo Process and the two-state solution, my [Jonathan's] vision recognizes that the Palestinians are one people who have been fragmented into separate "communities" with each community seeking to find a separate solution to its problems. In my vision, Palestinians who are refugees have a right to return to Palestine, if they chose to do so, and if someone else is living in their homes or properties (whether in Israel or the occupied territories) the new state will work to provide them with some measure of compensation or alternative housing and land from the public lands. It will also provide settlement, jobs, and training as a form of reparations that does not displace Israeli Jews who have been living in their homes or on their lands.
This measure of relative (not absolute) justice can provide healing, remove the sense of bitterness and injustice, without creating an existential threat to Israeli Jews who can also enjoy the benefits of this state, though not exclusively.
So refugees in all these areas can exercise their right of return with the understanding that they must share the land with Israeli Jews who have immigrated to Palestine/Israel and made it their homeland as well.
Q: What are your recommendations on how to humanize the other?
A: Yes, there is need for each side to humanize the other. The problem is that in the past, efforts to create fraternal relationships have avoided dealing with the roots of the problem and created a false symmetry between the oppressor and the oppressed. Thus it rendered the exercise suspect as an illegitimate reinforcer of an unjust status quo. This is called "normalization" and is rightly rejected by Palestinians.
The challenge is to create opportunities for coresistence, whereby both sides join in activities that confront, and challenge the injustices, rather than reinforce them. This is not done through mere declarations but through actions. When Israelis join a Palestinian led initiative or demonstration, and get equally teargassed or arrested, Palestinians can see the genuineness of their solidarity and do not need to question them about their political positions.
The current situation deliberately separates the two populations who only meet each other in a situation of oppression: as soldiers or settlers or powerful employers holding power over illegal/or permit-controlled labor. Joint activities must recognize the realities of apartheid as they try to break its power and hold over oppressor and oppressed alike.
Q: In terms of changing US foreign policy, I’ve noticed in my local and state Democratic Party very few of us who are advocating equality and freedom for Palestinians are active in party politics. Several people in the county Democratic party told me that they won’t allow discussion of foreign policy because it might lead to discussion of Israel & Palestine. So, they are suppressing discussion of the problem within the state and local party organizations. How can we get more of us to be active and vocal and work toward better candidates for elected office, which would lead to changed policy?
A: I [Mohammed] agree it is important to have an active voice through participation in local and general domestic election campaigns, especially with Democrat and also Republican parties, too. The most direct way is the active membership in the parties themselves and to mobilize and advocate for the cause of ending Israeli occupation. Work through churches and other local civil society organizations can be effective too. These entities are influential in certain local American communities. In the past decade we have seen an increase of diversity among the candidates in such local elections. This is a promising sign for advocacy for Palestinian rights and ending occupation.
Q: I agree with Miko Peled, who clearly states that the only way to dismantle the Israeli apartheid state is to completely isolate them. That is that no country welcomes Israel's politicians, no participation in sports, arts, culture, totally and completely shunned. He thinks this will dismantle Israel and the Zionists and I agree with him completely. Do any of the panelists disagree with this assessment?
A: I [Mohammed] think that the fight against South African apartheid was effective partially due to the fact that many countries took part in the campaign against that regime. I think that similar strategy can be effective to end the Israeli occupation through international isolation of Israeli entities/institutions who directly support the occupation and the apartheid system. At the same time, I think that dialogue and engagement with those who are willing to talk to each other from the two sides based on clear commitment to basic human rights should be endorsed too.
Sponsored by Nonviolence International (NVI).
Cosponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Just Peace Advocates.
Special thanks to the Salam Institute
In 2023 Israeli apartheid is intensifying. While Palestinians remain steadfast on their land, the new far right government is outright encouraging settlers to violently attack Palestinians and giving the green light to Occupation forces to carry out explicit ethnic cleansing policies. As more and more people around the world turn their attention to Palestine and demand accountability for apartheid, we will gather for a report back from two Palestinian experts on nonviolence and conflict resolution about their recent experiences on the ground.
Jonathan Kuttab is co-founder of Nonviolence International, the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, and Just Peace Advocates. 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, and as a board member of Nonviolence International and Just Peace Advocates. He was the head of the Legal Committee negotiating the Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the PLO. Jonathan is the author of Beyond the Two State Solution, which articulates a vision of a binational state that challenges both Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism. This book invites readers to begin a new conversation based on reality: how will two peoples live together in some sort of unified state?
Mohammed Abu Nimer is an internationally renowned expert on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace. He serves as a professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at the American University School of International Service, and as a Senior Advisor to the KAICIID Dialogue Centre, an international organization that specializes in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Mohammed is also a member of NVI's Board of Directors. Prof. Abu-Nimer's research has focused on a wide array of topics in peacebuilding and conflict resolution and has been both author and editor of more than 13 books on faith-based and interfaith peace-building. His more recent areas of focus have included faith-based peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue in peacebuilding and building social cohesion, and pedagogical considerations on incorporating peace and forgiveness education in the Arab world.
Tess Greenwood joined NVI’s staff in August 2022 as the Office and Intern Manager. Tess is a community organizer with a background in youth leadership development and anti-Occupation activism. She holds a BA in Labor Studies from Hampshire College. When she's not working with NVI, Tess organizes with IfNotNow, the movement of American Jews organizing their community to end U.S. support for Israeli Apartheid.