This is a compilation of peace articles by famous writers and philosophers specialized in peace building matters and a summary of their respective point of view. Twelve writers, twelve minds, twelve styles but only one obsession: To resolve the dilemma of war, social violence and the preservation of human life. Love, life, humanity, serenity of thought, familiar peace and other meanings around the need of a change in this crazy, violent and self destructive civilization, are some of the topics in these essays. Peace is possible especially through literature as we explain in the book but also through the education of respect to human dignity… Take a tour on our proposal of solutions to this severe illness that is causing the decadence and perhaps death of our blue planet Earth. Read about diversity of ideals, diversity of resolution of violence in society, from Argentina to Algeria, going through United States of America, Canada, Germany, Norway, Pakistan and many other countries like Israel, India or France. Read and think on your own point of view and rethink this book upon your vision. That is our dream. We cannot wait, we want to read your own creative opinion. MARIA CRISTINA AZCONA
Text: Solveig Hansen
Dr. Shai Har-El is the Founder and President of the Middle East Peace Network (MEPN). His new book, Where Islam and Judaism Join Together: A Perspective on Reconciliation, is due to be released in the summer of 2014. In the book, he quotes “the rope of God” from the Koran and says that Islam and Judaism can no longer be separate dangling ropes next to each other, but be tied together, and “each rope must give up little, surrender a bit of its original length, to achieve a stronger unity.”
Dr. Har-El is has kindly allowed us to publish this piece on his forthcoming book.
Jews and Muslims Can Build a Common Ground
By Dr. Shai Har-El
I am pleased to announce the publication by Palgrave and MacMillan of my new book, Where Islam and Judaism Join Together: A Perspective on Reconciliation this summer. This book is the result of many years of thinking, speaking and writing about peace. It is a sincere effort to go back to our sacred texts and reinterpret their teachings so that an open space is created to embrace religious pluralism and respect of other people’s truths. In this book, I chose to concentrate only on Islam and Judaism, sister religions that are closely related to one another with roots intertwined in the land, in the language, and in the memories of shared history. Of all religions, they are by far the closest to each other in their fundamental religious tenets, practices and systems of law, and their social, cultural and ethical traditions.
In the introduction to this book, I quoted the beautiful words of the Qur’ān (3:103): “Hold firmly, all together, by the rope of God and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favor upon you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His grace, you become brothers.” Thus, to be the knotted rope of God that joins people in brotherhood, Islam and Judaism can no longer relate as separate ropes dangling next to each other. In order for them to tie their ropes together, each rope must give up little, surrender a bit of its original length, to achieve a stronger unity.
So we all have a choice: either we become the knotted rope of God that binds us together, or we continue to exist as separate ropes apart from each other. Either we live in unity as brothers and enjoy God’s mercy, or we live apart as enemies and suffer. Like one of Martin Luther King’s pearls of wisdom, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
It is in this spirit of harmony and brotherhood that I wrote this book – as a place, where I attempt to bridge between Islam and Judaism, and as a tool to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the two Abrahamic traditions. It is my hope that both Jews and Muslims, in their search for common ground, will adopt the symbol of sharing and bonding represented by the unique symbol of the knotted rope.
The book is intended to create an opening in the minds of the Jewish and Muslim readers to see the light at the end of the dark hostility tunnel and encourage them to embrace each other as brothers and sisters. The ultimate course requires, however, far more than a shift in thinking. The key is action – the actual translation of this mind shift into concrete implementation in the form of peacebuilding and peacemaking.
This book is a call for action!
- A call to reject the argument that religion is a source of conflicts and emphasize the role of religion as a resource for resolving them;
- A call to fight the fanatics among us – those who manipulate religion and turn it into an instrument of hatred and violence – while supporting the voices of peace among us;
- A call to repudiate all cultures of denial and allow infrastructures of mutual trust and reconciliation to be erected instead;
- A call to cast aside exclusivist religious visions and violent passions and replace them with relationships marked by mutual human care and compassion;
- A call to combat the forces of chaos and darkness that divide people and create for them instead peaceful ecology, where they can rejoice in the human diversity of experience, the colorful tapestry of expression and the noble acceptance of each other;
- A call to condemn all senseless wanton acts of violence and engage in peace education in our schools, places of worship, and media networks so that our children and grandchildren live in a safe world and enjoy a brighter future;
- A call to convince the world that Islam and Judaism can and must reconcile their terribly bitter and unholy differences; that this reconciliation would forward the cause of world peace, in general, and help defuse the Arab-Israeli conflict, in particular.
My only hope is that Where Islam and Judaism Join Together would not remain on your shelf, but inspires you to take action in support of Jewish-Muslim dialogue; that the book will ultimately develop into a force strong enough to affect public opinion about the possibility of Islam and Judaism coming together; that the book becomes a sacred gateway, where readers of all nations can embark on a journey of exploration of other people’s culture; that the book becomes, not a monologue, but a start of an open dialogue, a conversation that nurtures mutual respect and understanding.
I invite you to email me your own suggestions of how to build bridges of understanding between Islam and Judaism. I would also be very appreciative if you could spread the word about the forthcoming book, as I believe it is an important contribution to the field of peace studies, and that it will be of interest to scholars, students, practitioners and policymakers.
But the Jewish sages’ teach us, “It is not the study that is essential, but rather the action” (Pirkei Avot 1:17). So I decided to take my own action. I am in the process of establishing a collaborative peacebuilding project between the Middle East Peace Network (MEPN) and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at the University of Chicago, entitled Jewish-Muslim Reconciliation Initiative (JMRI). If you live in the Chicagoland area, you are invited to participate. You are invited to do the same in your own town. Let me know so that I can support you.
I respectfully ask all Jewish and Muslim spiritual leaders, scholars, educators, opinion makers and community leaders, to join hands, in the spirit of the Torah and the Qur’ān, and open a constructive interfaith dialogue to which this book is a modest contribution. I believe that with our shared vision of peace and prayer of hope, we together could succeed where politicians have failed miserably.
May you all embrace the following inspirational message of the Arab poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran (1883-1931):
I love you, my brother, whoever you are – whether you worship in your church, kneel in your temple, or pray in your mosque. You and I are all children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, and eager to receive all.
“The enemy is he whose story you have not heard.”
(Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel)
IFLAC has as one of its major projects the creation of an independent Peace Culture TV and Internet Channel, called IFLAC IPCTV, and is calling for sponsors and seeking to enlarge its Consortium of Peace Partners for this purpose.
The aim of IFLAC IPCTV would be to counterbalance the culture of violence and war by spreading a culture of peace, and to tell the stories of “the other”. In the IPCTV proposal, Dr. Ada Aharoni writes, “Stories are the founding bricks of culture, and through the IPCTV we will explore and tell as objectively as possible, the stories and cultural backgrounds of both sides of a conflict. This knowledge of each other will lead to understanding and respect and would help in eliminating the causes of conflict, war and terror, and would promote reconciliation and peace.”
One of the organizations that has accepted the invitation to partner with IFLAC on this initiative is the Center for Global Nonkilling (CGNK). In their response, they write:
CGNK is pleased to join the consortium of peace partners which IFLAC is putting together for the proposal. IFLAC and Center for Global Nonkilling have a lot of goals in common. Working together makes us all stronger. It is time that we have a TV channel dedicated to promoting a culture of nonkilling peace. A TV channel that feels obliged to:
A GLOBAL CALL TO URGENT ACTION
THE CREATION OF A NON KILLING SHALOM — SALAM GLOBAL TV AND INTERNET CHANNEL FOR PEACE CULTURE (WSPC)
By Dr. Ada Aharoni, Founder of the WSPC — IFLAC The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace
We are now in the greatest global cultural crisis in human history, that between radical Islam and the West. It is imperative that the whole human family mobilizes for a cultural, ethical and moral action that can help to alleviate and solve this dangerous crisis. This can be achieved by the foundation of a powerful World Television by Satellite: The SHALOM — SALAM WSPC: The World Satellite and Internet Channel for Peace Culture. It can function at the beginning in three languages: English, Hebrew and Arabic, over Israel and the Palestinian Authority and over the whole of the Middle East, and it should be globally available.
In our past wars we forgot our common humanity and joined in efforts to kill our enemies. Killing will not stop killing, and it may unfortunately lead to a nuclear war that would destroy humanity and cause a disastrous total nuclear winter to our planet. To preempt and prevent this horrific tragedy, we must join in an all-out effort to eliminate the causes of conflict, war and terror.
All people, institutions and governments that receive this message are urged to quickly act to help create the Shalom — Salam WSPC, that will function as “Preventive Medicine,” before another September 11, and another Hizbollah war from Lebanon, with the openly declared unashamed goal “to destroy Israel.”
Human jealousy, greed, injustice and folly have ruined many parts of our region and planet, and have endangered the future of humankind. The most powerful institutions — global corporations, rich governments, and mass media — have usually put financial profit first. They do not focus on preventing wars and terror and on what will do the most good for the people, but on what will make the most money. The resulting violence, terror, and environmental carnage have been disastrous.
The human family has a long record of war and of using military power and violence to attempt to settle differences. Now new devilish nuclear weapons are becoming available worldwide and can be used by irresponsible governments, led by jealousy, greed and folly. The best way to prevent this is to eliminate the causes of violence, wars and terror, by exposing them in a serious manner, debating and researching them, and presenting constructive solutions to solve them.
We must now all think and act as responsible caretakers and trustees of the global culture of peace, of democracy, and of our planet, and we should seek progress and fair benefits for all people. Killing will only trigger more acts of violence and terror by those who hate democracy and are in great fear of it.
The WSPC will function towards democratic and humane goals, and will foster mutual understanding, harmony and respect between conflicting parties, and will eliminate the causes of violence, terror and war. The WSPC will function according to the highest professional, objective, and humane standards, it will take into consideration the various ethnic entities, and appeal to every culture and creed. It will provide a sure way for us to tap the best in our thinking, in our values, in our cultures and in our faiths.
Television, Press, Radio and Internet play a vital role in our lives. Actions, good or bad, begin in the mind, in the stories we hear and tell. In addition to the foundation of the WSPC, those able to command media attention have a special obligation to speak out about the present tragic cultural crisis between radical Islam and the West, and its solution, based on the IFLAC vision and platform.
All world leaders, media, and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), should act now, urging that everyone oppose violence with nonviolence — Martin Luther King’s effective solution. When people think and act according to the WSPC and IFLAC, they show a reverence for life and for humanity. The WSPC and the IFLAC PAVE PEACE NGO agenda put “The Golden Rule” to work — Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. The WSPC will provide a chance for people of all creeds to show their ethical values by practicing reverence for life in words, images and deed.
The WSPC and mass media have a sacred obligation as the mouths, eyes and ears of the public to:
- Feature not only problems, but also solutions to the problems.
- Headline cases of peaceful development and harmonious progress in human endeavors that replace: hate, fear, jealousy and greed, with: honesty, love, and care.
- Give recognition and attention to people, institutions and projects that eliminate violence, terror, poverty and foster peace culture and understanding.
In addition to the WSPC Television, and Radio, every TV and radio station should program a daily “Hour for Peace Culture.” The presenter could state at the beginning of the program, “In this hour for peace let us join our hearts and minds, each in our own way, with commitment to peaceful actions today and every day.” This would be followed by the sound of a Peace Culture Bell and appropriate music.
With the media’s cooperation, each 21 September — Global Peace Day, will provide a great global holiday with worldwide participation by people of every creed and culture. This will inspire actions for the WSPC development and progress with further peace culture riches, tolerance and prosperity for all. Thousands of group projects are already helping people and planet. Their impact can increase dramatically by uniting in a global Campaign for the creation of the WSPC and the foundation of a “Sustainable Future.”
Please spread the word. We can change this present dangerous cultural crisis into a new beginning with the SHALOM — SALAM WSPC.
Rhymed Reflections by Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace linguist from Brazil, and IFLAC Peace Ambassador in Brazil:
Why do we say for LOVE there is no price?
Because in exchange for LOVE, only LOVE will suffice
By some people, LOVE is thought of or described as a kind of power
But for the good of Humankind, LOVE should be the most beautiful flower
When to more and more living beings LOVE we give
A more blessed planetary LOVE we learn to live
When will LOVE generate personal-interpersonal-international peace?
When all kinds of aggression, cruelty, violence, and killing will cease
From Francisco Gomes de Matos, IFLAC Peace Ambassador in Brazil, come these rhymed reflections:
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS: A NONKILLING PLEA TO ADULTS
by Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace/nonkilling linguist from Recife, Brazil
On behalf of the world’s children, these rhymed reflections are presented:
As children, we are happy to know that we have the right to play
so please, adults, also take seriously what we now want to say
As children, we are told that we have the right to a family life of dignity
so please, adults, show that of LOVE in your family there’s no scarcity
As children, we are told that we have the right to be guided
so, please, adults, be kind when you want us to be chided
As children, we are told we will be educated to be productive
so, please, adults, help our education also to be constructive
As children, we are told we have the right our creativity to enhance
so, please, adults, help our global citizenship responsibility advance
As children, we are told we have the right to be taught what is known
so, please, adults, help us be strong and never to fear the unknown
As children, we are told we have the right to a life of spirituality
so, please, adults, provide us with that soul-supporting possibility
As children, we know that to a world of violence and killing we are exposed
so, please, adults, fulfil your human right obligation:
A NONKILLING WORLD SHOULD BE GLOBALLY IMPLEMENTED
Text: Solveig Hansen
On September 4, Ada proudly received the Israeli President’s Award for Volunteerism, for promoting peace initiatives between Jews and Arabs.
“Ada Aharoni, I am very impressed by all the wonderful work you do for promoting Peace Culture and Peace between Israel and her neighbors,” President Shimon Peres said when he presented her with the Award.
The ceremony took place at the official residence of President Peres in Jerusalem. Ada invited 45 guests to attend the ceremony with her.
Dr. Yosef Gotlieb, Chair of IFLAC Jerusalem, writes:
I was invited to the ceremony by my dear friend, Dr. Ada Aharoni, a writer, poet, scholar and activist who was one of the six leaders and five organizations – eleven in all award winners. Ada was recognized for her outstanding life contributions since the early 1970s on behalf of “peace culture between Arabs and Jews.” I have come to know Ada in the context of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC), a group active all over the world and composed of people of letters dedicated to the advancement of peace. Ada, who immigrated alone to Israel from Egypt at the age of seventeen, is a former chair of the World Congress of Egyptian Jews and a tireless fighter for coexistence and understanding.
Despite the afternoon heat, President Peres actively participated in the ceremony. His words conveyed wisdom, experience and benevolence and he was warmly received. He spoke about the vital role volunteerism played in the state-building process. He asserts that it remains a core value of the Israeli national ethos.
One of the President’s most incisive remarks related to the rising role that civil society and volunteer organizations play in public affairs. He believes that government authority is being replaced around the world by civil initiatives and popular will channeled into action.
I believe that the President, who is keenly aware of emerging trends, is right on the mark and this is one of the basic messages I make in Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel, where the Rise movement is the instrument of change at a time when the government is unwilling or unable to advance the interests of the country’s citizenry.