Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

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 unpack the legacies of Sri Lanka's brutal and tragic thirty-year long civil war. I am Sinhalese while YaliniDream is Tamil, and though our ethnic heritage would suggest that we're on opposite sides of the conflict, we were able to come together in conversation and transcend both Sinhalese nationalism and Tamil nationalism, imagining a liberatory future for all our peoples beyond ethnonationalism. 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.  



Time Stamps:

0:00 Introducing YaliniDream

1:32 Questioning Armed Actors & Ethno-nationalisms

14:25 The Nuance of Revolutionary Nonviolence

21:56 A Just Peace

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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 


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. 


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.

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.



Alice Walker Raises Up Our Partner - US Boats to Gaza

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

The great Alice Walker just posted about our partner US Boats to Gaza and raised up our co-founder Jonathan Kuttab 

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. 


Update on Western Sahara: Khaya Family Resistance Story

On Sunday, December 5, 2021, Sultana Khaya, and her sister, mother and brother were attacked in Western Sahara in their home by Moroccan authorities. Below are short and longer videos that show them speaking out about the attack (which included sexual assaults) and confronting the perpetrators on the street outside their home.

Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco in violation of international law and UN resolutions, but the Moroccan king gets enormous military and political support from the US, France, and Spain. The Khaya family nonviolently waves the Western Sahara flag on their townhouse roof everyday, enraging the Moroccan authorities. They do this under a siege of more than 1 year in which their electricity and water are turned off, and they have been repeatedly attacked, sodomized and sexually assaulted, and had household items stolen and destroyed. Yet their resistance continues.

Sultana Khaya

The international and US media is not covering this siege or the resistance of these sisters. 

Posted below are the videos describing the December 5th attacks on the Khaya family:

The True Face of the Moroccan Kingdom (4 min) *There is no graphic violence in this video*

Moroccan Brutality on Human Rights Defender (22 min)

In March, NVI broadcast a webinar (Webinar: Nonviolence Resistance to Occupations) in which Sultana spoke live. Note the 22-minute mark, at which Sultana Khaya dramatically confronts those who besiege her house.

Additionally, see Sultana Khaya’s op-ed in CNN (Morocco: Western Sahara Activist Raped)...and yet the attacks continue.

Please Take Action with us to support these activists:

  • 3) Contact your governments and Morocco to stop the attacks and siege on the Khaya family and to end the occupation.

Mubarak Awad & Jonathan Kuttab in Western Sahara 

NVI has been helping on the WS issue for 3 decades. Mubarak Awad and Jonathan Kuttab are some of the few Palestinians and Americans who have gone and done solidarity work with them in the occupied territory.

Michael Beer co-wrote a critical article (Michael Beer's Op-Ed Calling for an End to the Conflict in Western Sahara) encouraging the US Government to change it policies towards Western Sahara. 

Nonviolence International supports international law and opposes the unlawful and violent occupations of its neighbors by Israel, Morocco and Russia.

# # #

Michael Beer's Review of Steve Chase's Book on Agent Provocateurs

How Agent Provocateurs Harm Our Movements by Steve Chase, Published by the International Center on Nonviolence Conflict, 2021

Steve Chase has produced a 45 page book on government supported agent provocateurs. He begins by providing a short snapshot of examples of agent provocateurs from Guatemala, Thailand, Syria, Sudan, Poland, Britain, Canada, United States, and Tibet.  He then shares a deeply disturbing story of US government sabotage and use of agent provocateurs in weakening the US Black Liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  This story has been made possible because of a daring citizen initiative to raid an FBI office for its documents that were then the basis for a legislative branch investigation that exposed much information about the COINTELPRO program supporting provocateurs.  He then explains important research from Omar Wasow, Sharon Erickson, and Erica Chenoweth that debunk the myth that “diversity of tactics” is a successful campaign strategy. Diversity of Tactics is a term which encourages the simultaneous or parallel use of nonviolent and violent tactics, particularly in street protests. Chase also criticizes nonviolent campaigners who fail to confront those who seek to use violence to accomplish goals on strategic or principled grounds.

He concludes with a short chapter on Responding Effectively, suggesting ways to deal with agent provocateurs.  Some of these ideas include prompting more evidence-based social science research, deploying tactics that are less susceptible to agent provocateur incitement, provide trainings in nonviolent discipline, and staying focused on clear goals among other recommendations.

Some additional recommendations that Nonviolence International has given over the years includes:

  • a) Don’t always expose agent provocateurs, because they may send replacements who you don’t know.  “The agent provocateur that you know is better than the one you don’t know.”
  • b) Killing or harming agents does not deter governments from sending in replacements. Very often, these are people with criminal records or poor and have limited choices but to cooperate with the authorities.
  • c) Folks are often sent in pairs or teams for security reasons. So if you uncover one, look to see if they are working alone.
  • d) Develop a policy on agent provocateurs and informants. Some groups open up meetings welcoming all to attend and participate as long as they follow the NV guidelines. For example, "if anyone at this meeting is being paid to be here by government, media, or outside groups, please disclose that publicly now.”
  • e) Feeding misinformation or omitting information to agent provocateurs or informants is an option.
  • f) Gandhi operated in complete transparency making it very difficult for agent provocateurs to cause problems or have an impact.
  • g) Do reference checks. Even asking newcomers for additional information can be enough to chase away infilitrators. Simple questions. Where are you from? How did you find out about us? Why are you motivated to join this action/group?
  • h) Infiltrators can be flipped. At the very least, they add 1 more person to your action/crowd.
  • i) Never let an agent provocateur seize the microphone or the bullhorn.
  • j) Maskless actions and daytime actions reduce the risk of sabotage.

His book reveals the need for more research based on government documents and whistleblowers with stories to tell on social movement sabotage. This sabotage goes well beyond what we typically think of as agent provocateurs including informers, kidnappers, quiet intimidators, and assassins. This book also shows the need for a more comprehensive look at agent provocateurs that are also sponsored by corporations and non-state political actors.

This book’s most important contribution is to challenge those advocating for diversity of tactics and violent revolutionary flanks.

Chase concludes with his finest observation that “I find it painfully telling that no agent provocateur has even been documented encouraging a movement to adopt a disciplined civil resistance strategy.


Spotlight on Nonviolence - David Hartsough

In this Spotlight on Nonviolence, I had the great privilege of talking with David Hartsough, a Quaker, lifelong peace activist and author of the memoir Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist. In Part 1, David and I discuss his experience participating in civil rights sit-ins in Maryland and Virginia as a college student at Howard University, the difficulty of staying committed to nonviolence in the face of violence and intimidation, and how his Quaker faith has inspired and sustained him in his nonviolent activism. In Part 2, David and I discuss his experience traveling to Iran to engage in citizen diplomacy, his critique of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool, and his vision of the end of US empire. Though it's hard to tell height over Zoom, David struck me as a gentle giant, humble and kind, soft-spoken but firm in his convictions, with a smile that I'm sure has lit up many rooms. Bathed in the soft white glow of his room, he seemed almost saintly. Though David is currently battling cancer, he found the time to grace me with his presence and it was an absolute pleasure to engage in a wide-ranging conversation with this extraordinary leader. 

I found David's story of how he and some fellow college students successfully challenged desegregation deeply moving, a great reminder of the power of a group of young people to change the world. Even more impressive is how David has remained committed to nonviolence, putting his body in harm's way multiple times. I am in awe of his immense courage. As someone who studied US foreign policy as a political science student, I enjoyed learning about David's decades-long anti-war activism. Unlike pundits in DC who cheer on the war machine, David has traveled to so-called "enemy" countries and seen the devastating impact of US policy on civilians. I admire David's complete rejection of an "us vs. them" mentality, his embrace of the entire human family. As a young person in my early 20's, I'm still figuring out what exactly I want to do with my time on Earth- but I know for a fact that I want to live a life as beautiful, meaningful, and impactful as David Hartsough's. David told me that we can all influence other people through our example. As we fight against the same forces David did- the three evils of racism, war and poverty-we would do well to follow his shining path. I found our conversation deeply inspiring and insightful and I hope you will too. 



Learn more about World Beyond War here- https://worldbeyondwar.org/ 

Learn more about Nonviolent Peaceforce here- https://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/

Learn more about the Poor People's Campaign here- https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/

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. 


NVI is lucky to have three new wonderful cohosts for our Spotlight Series. Nimesh and Paige are two of our new interns. Paige is a senior at Wittenberg University while Nimesh is a recent graduate of George Washington University. Kate is a graduate student at Cambridge University who has graciously offered to volunteer her time and serve as a cohost alongside Nimesh and Paige. Learn more about these impressive young leaders in the videos below. 

Nimesh's Intro Video

Paige's Intro Video

Kate's Intro Video

Please read Kate's article "Cambridge's Imperial Connections and Me" where she shares her reflections on race, cross-cultural experiences, and being Bangladeshi in Cambridge

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.

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