Text: Solveig Hansen
After many years of delivering web editor services to IFLAC, it is time for me to leave. It has been a voluntary job that has been driven by idealism, but also these jobs require a lot of time investment and I have too many other projects that require my time. So, it is goodbye and good luck from me. 🙂
I would like to thank our readers and followers, and I hereby hand over the keys to Motti Gerner, who is the IFLAC radio director and web editor of the Hebrew IFLAC site.
Some of the projects I have enjoyed most all these years are the children’s peace poetry contests and the IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival we organized in 2014. I edited the festival e-book below. Read it and be inspired.
I leave you with this poem by Hasan Dokhan, written for our 2013 poetry contest for children:
By Hasan Dokhan, Israel, 2013
Amer is a naïve smiling man, all the people love him.
One day he goes with his neighbors to the market
In the big city to enjoy himself.
He stops in the center of the road,
He sees a battalion of soldiers that are carrying
Guns and sharp tools.
He wonders and asks who are these men
And where are they going?
A man answers – they are our soldiers
They are going to the war.
He wonders more
And asks what are they doing in the war?
The man answers: they burn and kill and steal.
Amer shakes his head and the tears flow from his eyes.
He asks: why are they fighting?
The man answers – to reach peace.
Amer thinks and then he says: to reach peace
They are killing innocent children and destroying homes
And burning fields! It is strange!
Amer becomes an angry man
He does not laugh or smile anymore.
Dear peace, come and paint
On people’s faces a great smile again.
IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival e-book:
“I know your story, my Palestinian brother, but you don’t know mine.” These are the introductory words of Ada Aharoni in her forthcoming film The Pomegranate of Reconciliation, which tells her story and the story of the uprooting of the Jews from Egypt following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. She says that this is a new and innovative way to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
This is the trailer:
The muezzin’s voice echoes
across the border, friendless,
calling his compatriots to prayer,
to holiness and to obliterate us
frightening me, the enemy,
a dot in his spectacles,
a two minute’s drive in his vehicle
to my home
He does not know,
the muezzin, who is mostly a recording,
who amasses missiles in hospitals,
that I am happy for him to awaken me
at four each morning,
because I find his chanting oddly comforting,
like the peal of church bells,
the security of ritual
He does not know,
who despises the existence of my village,
and demands my demise,
that I, the enemy, am so enchanted by his,
that I am sketching it from various angles,
detailing the different windows,
the mosque from whence his voice goes forth,
the incongruous high-rise with its terraces,
the flat roofs, some structures ochre, some white,
and the one building painted an audacious orange,
perhaps by an artist like me?
I do not know, cannot throw my questions
over the border fence like packets of opium
on a moonless night
But I, the optimist,
continue to visualize, try to manifest,
that I and the artist in the orange house
will exhibit our paintings
of each other’s village
in each other’s village
when at last
there will be
no more enemies
© 10.2009 Helen Bar-Lev
LORD OF ALL
For James Deahl
Lord of peace
And Lord of all wars
I, simple artist
Born with no concept
No heart for these horrors,
Bow humble before you
Are you aware
That my daughter,
But a pacifist since the womb,
Leftist to the core,
Wanders homeless from the bombs
Demolishing her town
Even this moment
As I attempt
To distract your attention
From the news on the television
Lord of war
And Lord of peace
just a suggestion to you
In your warless heaven,
Perhaps the time is auspicious
To copy the chromosomes
Of those of us humans
Opposed to violence,
To impose a holy law
Which would eliminate
The war chromosome
From all babies born
From now on
A daring experiment
An innovative concept
Perhaps a solution
To a continuous war
That has lasted
And refuses to finish
Anything really, Lord,
That would cause war to cease,
Permanently and forever
We’d be so appreciative
My daughter could return home
Blood rivers would stop their flow
Forests would grow from war-ashes
And we could all sleep again
© 8.2006 Helen Bar-Lev
TO A SUICIDE BOMBER
By Ada Aharoni
Deluded, brainwashed suicide bomber
they lied to you
when they brainwashed you
with sleek murderous words
in their stupendous “shahid” washing machines
where they only wash young brains like yours
with bomb-flamed slogans
and rat poison soap-suds
They lied to you when they told you –
you will surely go to heaven and ravish 72 young maidens
when you courageously blow yourself up,
and kill many, many innocent people –
they lied to you
and you did not have the courage
to ask them: “if so,
why don’t you go?”
Text: Solveig Hansen
For many years, students in the Honors Peace and Conflict Program at the University of Haifa have interned with IFLAC. This semester, we welcome Laura Muñoz.
Laura Muñoz was born in Armenia, Colombia. Growing up in a Cali, a major Colombian city, Laura witnessed urban poverty and violence, which not only motivated her to succeed but also gave her the desire to be an agent of change. At age 12, Laura and her mother moved to Miami. As a young adult, Laura was empowered to become an advocate for underrepresented communities and for the promotion of peace.
Laura has advocated for nearly 257,000 students to the Broward County School Board regarding issues ranging from inclusion and diversity to environmental awareness. Last year, Laura helped bring together PorColombia’s annual national conference, “Post-Conflict Colombia” and served as programming chair for Women in Public Affairs. This summer she served as a congressional intern to the United States House of Representatives. Currently, Laura is a senior at the George Washington University pursuing a degree in international affairs. She will spend this semester at Haifa University completing the Honors Peace and Conflict Program, interning with IFLAC and volunteering with the diverse youth of Haifa.
IFLAC was the absolute best fit for me. Besides my strong career interest in peace promotion and conflict resolution, the work of IFLAC for the promotion of peace across the world is fulfilling on a human level.
What do you hope to do at IFLAC?
I hope to become an active agent of peace promotion. I look forward to using my writing, speaking, thinking, organizing and, perhaps even dancing, to promote conversations and spaces that focus on mutual understanding and seek proactive solutions through peaceful means.
Like many of our young interns before her, Laura too likes Ada Aharoni’s novel From the Nile to the Jordan, about the young couple Inbar and Raoul who are forced to leave Egypt for Israel in 1948. She writes:
From the Nile to the Jordan is a gripping book that serves as a microcosm that describes an entire group of people and it is applicable to the whole world. Told through the life and struggles of a young girl from the 2,000 year old Jewish community in Egypt, the story provides a human face to the uprooting and displacement of a whole community after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The shifting face of the Middle East at this time is made human through a tragic love story, Inbar and her lover Rafi.
In the context of today’s tensions between Arab and Jewish communities, the humanity in the story allows readers to relate with the “other”. The story of forced displacement and struggle reveals that these two groups, often polarized and antagonized, share common stories of displacement and the will to survive.
Highly recommended to those studying or wishing to create bridges of peace in the Middle East and the whole world.
Text: Solveig Hansen
Do you want to become a peace activist but don’t quite know what your “thing” is? Let the story of Farhan Wilayat Butt and Pakistan Peacekeeping Mission inspire you. They arrange peace tours to raise interfaith and intercultural awareness, and run an active Facebook group.
Farhan Wilayat Butt, too, wondered what his “thing” was. A banker by trade, he wanted to do more, to make a difference. “What am I good at?” he asked himself. Was there a way to combine his passion for travelling, taking pictures and writing stories? He decided to become a peace activist.
He created a Facebook group, Pakistan Peacekeeping Mission, which now counts 11,000+ members. Organizing peace tours to shrines and pilgrimage sites seemed to be a natural choice of activity in a multi-faith country like Pakistan, with Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians… ancient history, temples, mosques, churches, stupas, monasteries, and colorful festivals. Pakistan must be one of the most colorful countries in the world.
Farhan wrote to us about his work, and he is now an IFLAC Peace Ambassador in Pakistan. He also runs the IFLAC Pakistan group on Yahoo, formerly called International Urdu Writers Club. We asked him to do a write-up on his experiences as a peace activist and peace tour organizer. Here it is: Our Journey towards Peace (PDF).
On their latest peace tours, they took Sikhs to the Shrine of the Punjabi poet Waris Shah, and Hindus to the Grand Mosque of Behria Town.
One of Farhan’s next projects is to explore the Jewish community in Pakistan, under the “banner of IFLAC, Israel.” According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, there are approx. 800 Jewish voters registered in Pakistan. The actual number might be higher, as many have chosen not to reveal their faith. Recently, Fishel Benkhald, the son of a Muslim father and Jewish mother, has been in the news as the “last self-declared Jew” in Pakistan, leading a campaign to restore Karachi’s Jewish cemetery.
Text: Solveig HansenWe just received words from WordPress, our blog host, that we have created 200 blog posts! You might have more in your blog, but we are happy as can be to celebrate each and every milestone.
Our post #200 is How many more generations?, two poems about children caught in the middle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
If you want to congratulate us and say hello, the Comments field is always open.
Do you want to become a guest blogger and write a post or poem related to peace? If so, we would love to hear from you. Or, give us your permission to publish your articles on peace education, peace research etc.
Peace articles, blog posts, peace poems, and tips on books can be submitted to email@example.com for consideration.
Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay for guest posts, but your post will be there for the world to be inspired by. 🙂
Add an IFLAC Dove to your site! We have plenty to choose from.