Posted: 2016/10/06 Filed under: IFLAC News
Shimon Peres first part of his excellent PEACE PLAN is the following: “There are some 400 million Arabs in the Middle East, and close to 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Some 60% of them are under the age of 25. It looks to me like they won’t be able to pull themselves out of their current situation on their own. There are already some 130 million young people in the Middle East with smartphones. There are 9 million students, which is not a lot. The problem is that once they finish university, they cannot find work, because there is no high tech. None of their leaders did what should be done: not President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, not King Salman of Saudi Arabia and not King Abdullah of Jordan.
“The solution must come from the universities, using the model that already exists in Israel. There must be greenhouses for students, high tech and entrepreneurship. There are now 13,000 startup companies in Israel that were founded by students. Some of these students are already millionaires. They go to school, become entrepreneurs, receive money from investors and return the loans once they succeed. This model should be copied by the Arab world. Israel is a high-tech nation, but high tech has no flags. It is universal. The Middle East should be blanketed with high tech. I have been busy recruiting eight gigantic corporations for this project. High tech now has $24 trillion in reserve, $6 trillion of it in the United States. The investment funds are enormous.
“I tell them, ‘Friends, start thinking about the war on terror. Otherwise, it will destroy you. And no, you don’t have to kill terrorists. You have to kill terrorism. You have to create high tech and jobs. We need to recruit the Israeli Arab community for this, as well as high-tech leaders around the world. I had a talk with Michael Dell not too long ago. He recently merged his company with another huge company. There are hundreds of billions of dollars available now. I asked him, ‘Michael, what are you going to do with all that money?’ We agreed to meet in Davos. Trust me, we don’t need governments. They’re just a big headache with very little money. We need to recruit international corporations. I’m in talks with Cisco, Facebook, Google, everyone.”
“I tell them that there are four things, which must be brought to the Middle East: internet, broadband, the “cloud” and digital medicine. We have to present an enormous Marshall Plan for information, not money. We have to transform the universities into centers of entrepreneurship and technology. The leaders in the Middle East are making huge mistakes. Sisi is wasting billions of dollars on the Suez Canal. That is a mistake. I would not be surprised if I woke up tomorrow morning and read that Egypt or Saudi Arabia has collapsed. We have to propose this plan as quickly as possible. Anyone who wants can join.”
Peres then comes to the second stage of his plan, the political stage. “We were just speaking about John Kerry and his incredible diligence in resolving the Iranian crisis without a war, or even a cold war, and without the United Nations. He is completely dedicated to the cause. There isn’t an ounce of cynicism in him. That’s a huge thing in politics. He is genuine, and he put together an option that the whole world supported, apart from Israel. Now they are talking about imposing an agreement [on Israel and the Palestinians]. Why impose it? Netanyahu already agreed to a two-state solution with blocs of settlementsremaining under Israeli sovereignty. But Abbas can’t agree to Netanyahu’s settlement blocs. The Palestinians recognize three settlement blocs, while Netanyahu has seven or eight in mind. That is why the whole issue of a freeze on settlement construction is a waste of time. The world needs to present a plan for an arrangement based on what has already been agreed upon. The plan should be passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and not the Security Council. It should be put on the table, without imposing anything on the parties. Anyone who wants can take part in it. It will be a kind of global statement of intent. Israel cannot function without the enlightened world, yet there are already companies that avoid Israel because of its policies. The Palestinians can’t stay behind either. They will have to join this big Marshall Plan. Accepting the arrangement will be a precondition for joining. That’s the whole idea.”
I asked Peres who will get his plan running. Who will be responsible for its implementation? “The world,” he answered. “Take Kerry, for example. He is capable. I went to see [Russian President Vladimir] Putin not too long ago. I said to him, ‘I’m 92 years old, and you’re 62. What do you want to do for the next 30 years? Conquer America?’ He told me no. ‘Do you think that America wants to conquer you?’ He answered, ‘Obviously not.’ Then I asked him if he has a hard time talking to [President Barack] Obama. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Obama is actually a nice guy.’ That’s when I told him that even though I don’t engage in espionage, I will be telling the Americans everything I talk about with him. He laughed. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘That’s why I’m talking to you.’ I like to think that it was because of this kind of mediation too that they [Americans and Russians] started to speak to one another. I think that the Russians will agree and the Chinese will agree. The Europeans will agree. [German Chancellor] Mrs. [Angela] Merkel will agree. After all, the whole world agrees with the two-state solution. It is not being imposed on anyone. It will be the consensus solution presented by the entire world, just as it happened with the Iranian issue. Instead of threats, the parties need to receive incentives. Then, anyone who agrees to sign on to and implement the program will join this immense Marshall Plan to advance information and progress.”
I asked him how he would convince Netanyahu, and how he would neutralize the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby and Netanyahu’s billionaires. “You can’t buy everything with money,” Peres told me. “Even [US billionaire Sheldon] Adelson can’t really buy the whole world. He doesn’t have $24 trillion. Netanyahu has the evangelicals in his pocket, but he lost the Democrats. Russia will agree. I am sure of that. Based on long talks that I have had, I am convinced that the Americans will, too, even though there are still some people there who believe Netanyahu’s promises. After all, Netanyahu agreed to a demilitarized Palestinian state, to three settlement blocs [remaining under Israeli control] and to a pre-agreed and just solution for the [Palestinian] refugee problem. We will resolve the problem of Jerusalem at a later date in two stages, rather than in one. Abbas will agree to that. I spoke to him about it. In the first stage, each religion will be responsible for its holy sites. The UN General Assembly will formulate and approve all the details. The agreement will be placed before it, as a kind of global statement, laying out the way forward. All the nations of the world will be partners in this agreement and act accordingly. Anyone who does not will be a pariah. I don’t think that there is anyone crazy enough here to reject this. Anyone who does reject it will remain behind. This opportunity will offer a veritable paradise, with trillions of dollars of investment in technology, science, universities and high tech. That is the future. People will not want to stay stuck in the past.’’
Nine months after this conversation, Peres suffered a stroke, which led to his death two weeks later, on Sept. 28. His final plan expressed his deep frustration with the Palestinian side, but also with the Israeli side. Nevertheless, he refused to give up. He hoped to harness his enormous love for science, technology and progress to benefit his other great passion: striving for peace.
Posted: 2016/09/08 Filed under: IFLAC News
Book Review: Anti-Terror and Peace
In a world desperately longing to eradicate despotism and violence, the power of the written word is prominent and palpable in the 2016 IFLAC anthology “Anti-Terror and Peace.”
Responding to increasing turmoil in the world, Professor Ada Aharoni founded IFLAC, the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, in 1999 as a way to bridge the gap between cultures and promote peace and understanding through writing and art.
Through IFLAC she publishes a daily digest online and an anthology every second year.
The 2016 anthology is a compendium of essays, art, short stories, poetry, and haiku—which Aharoni calls “peace works”—by 23 authors living in various countries around the globe.
Through eloquent, authentic, and personal writings, the anthology aims to promote peace among peoples and nations by shining a light on suffering and the extraordinary people who managed to surmount the fear and hardship they have encountered. The publication is interlaced with “peace art,” and Aharoni, as chief editor, chose all of the articles and art included in it.
With reports of pain, suffering, abuse of power, and inhumanity increasing year after year, and with terrorists causing a lot of these problems, Aharoni decided to focus the 2016 anthology on anti-terrorism, a secondary message to the usual one of promoting peace for all.
In the introduction she calls terrorism “this new cancer obnoxiously spreading all over our world.”
Topics of the pieces range from the Rwandan genocide, conflict in Israel, Palestine, and Africa, and terrorism and the terrorist experience, to the Holocaust. Some contain graphic images of mistreatment, death, and genocide, making them heartfelt but difficult to read dispassionately.
One of the essays is Canadian psychotherapist Khalid Sohail’s “The Psychology of Suicide Bombers.” He also contributed “A Peaceful World.”
In the former he cites seven factors that precipitate a rational, law-abiding person turning into a suicide bomber. Sohail then explains the tragedy of indoctrinated people being used to further the cause of a cultish leader by participating in a suicide mission, believing that their “sacred martyrdom” will be rewarded after death.
In “The End of Terrorism,” Apostolos John Paschos of Greece describes why man was created: “He was created for the purpose of assessing the values of life, of free people, justice, dignity, respect, virtue, ethics, peace, harmony, to create all together a blissful and harmonious society globally.”
Aharoni, born in Egypt and now living in Israel, has been writing poems since she was 10 years old. In an interview included in the anthology, she talks about the significance of poetry: “By being a platform that expresses what the majority of the people of the world crave for—peace and freedom from terror, violence, destruction, and wars—we can influence the politicians that wars cannot resolve conflicts.”
So it is no wonder that one of the most relevant, and the largest, section of the anthology presents 54 poems that decry the realities of terrorism, feed the world’s need for hope, and express the desire we all feel to eradicate conflict.
Poems about terrorists and violent horrors are balanced with poems about humanity, peace, and the need for people to work toward peace in the many troubled countries of the world.
The anthology informs about the nightmare that is terrorism and also highlights the cry for an end to war and terrorism echoed around our world by the majority of humankind.
“Anti-Terror and Peace” is available from Amazon. For information about IFLAC, visit: http://www.iflac.wordpress.com
The article at the EPOCH TIMES: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2133851-promoting-peace-through-writing-and-art/
Posted: 2016/08/04 Filed under: IFLAC News
Rare Flower – Life, Love and Peace Poems
By Ada Aharoni
Reviewed by Pejman Masrouri
Ada Aharoni’s book of poetry, “Rare Flower – Life, Love and Peace Poems,” [Dignity Press, USA], is mainly a call to action against the absurdity of war, as well as the empowerment of women for peace through literature and “diplomatic poetry”. These overall themes are expressed in different ways—from appeals to conscious human beings from around the world, to world leaders, and to thinkers, journalists, writers and poets, imparting them with hopeful inspiration.
In the poem “I Am Not in Your War Anymore”, there is a brilliant juxtaposition of nature’s beautiful fall foliage illustrating the horrors of war:
First, flowing flamboyant crimson blood
On throbbing temples and curly hair,
Russet bronze fiery metal cartridges
Stuffing the crevices of young hearts,
While golden laser Napalm dragon tongues
Gluttonously lick the sizzling eyes and lips
Of our children,
Under giant mushrooms
Freshened by mustard and acid rain.
The ominous imagery however, ends on a hopeful note that we might eventually look back on this time of the cruelty of war, after we will find the:
Historical garbage pit
Where we can dump
Our fearful legacy
And our grandchildren will ask their fathers,
What were tanks for, Pa? And with eyes
Full of wonder, they will read the story of the
Glorious imprisonment of the Nuclear Giant
In his hellish dump imprisoned for ever,
And they will cry:
Well done Pa, well done Ma!
Aharoni often aims her call to action to those that can actually do something, including world leaders and others who may be guilty of fanning the flames of war. In the aptly named poem, “Mr. Prime Minister, When Will the Nightmare End?” which is part of her moving Lebanon poems, during the Lebanon War, she makes an impassioned plea on behalf of citizens and soldiers who feel powerless to make an impact. The following lines are written and told from the perspective of an Israeli soldier who is in the midst of the horrors of the Lebanon War.
What absolute misery –
I want to go home!
Instead of a home’s warmth,
Anguished cold in my frozen bones
While watching the dreadful shock of a man
Who has just discovered his dead wife’s body
Under his wrecked home.
We came back from the nightmare
With horror in our hearts
And imploring in our eyes –
Mr. Prime Minister, we were born
For creation, for joy and life –
Not for destruction!
Please, Mr. Prime Minister,
End this nightmare that really kills –
And not only in our nightmares.
Likewise, in “Myopic Scientist,” an appeal is made to science and scientists, to focus on peace instead of weaponry so that the whole of humankind does not fall into the:
Of a nuclear winter
From which there is no return.
One of the most moving messages can be found in “Peace is a Woman and a Mother,” in which the poet explores the extended metaphor of women as bringers of peace. It begins with a sad listing of the children lost to war in all corners of the globe:
“I asked her why
She was so sad?
She told me her baby
Was killed in Auschwitz,
Her daughter in Hiroshima
And her sons in Vietnam, India, Pakistan,
Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
Bosnia, Rwanda and Chechnya.
All the rest of her children, she said,
Are on the nuclear blacklist of the dead,
All the rest, unless –
The whole world understands
That Peace is a woman.
However, the poem ends with a positive view, that “Peace is indeed a pregnant woman / Peace is a mother,” which implies an expectant and optimistic future.
Ada Aharoni has provided a moving volume of inspiration and hope to a world in sore need of it. From her birth in Cairo, through the perils of the forced “Second Exodus” of the Jews from Egypt, to a new life in Israel, she has experienced first-hand the turbulence and five disastrous wars in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis. A true global citizen, she is the founder and president of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, and as a prolific poet and writer, who has published 31 books to date. Her works are a testament to what one person can achieve in the battle for peace and a better and safer world.
Posted: 2016/08/04 Filed under: IFLAC News
IFLAC ANTHOLOGY ON ANTI-TERROR AND PEACE 2016
A RAINBOW OF WORDS AND WORLDS
By Anna Banasiak
The new book “Anti-terror and peace: IFLAC anthology” edited by Prof.Ada Aharoni and Dr. Vijay Kumar, is a unique sign of our times which has a power to transform our inhuman postmodern reality into a society of dialogue and fundamental values of truth, beauty and goodness.
The authors, from 23 countries created a culture of peace and revolutionary forgiveness. The authenticity and timeless meaning of the works presented in the anthology have a powerful esthetic and anthropological impact.
The value of the authors’ words is transcendent having a power to change the world of chaos and hate into a kingdom of love.
The new IFLAC Anthology 2016 gives the world a message of hope, turning the poetic dream about peace into visible reality.
Posted: 2016/08/04 Filed under: IFLAC News
Poet Shin Shalom KING OF PEACE and his Republic of Dream
By Anna Banasiak
Shin Shalom (Shalom Joseph Shapira), grandson of Chaim Meir Jehiel Shapira, Hassidic Rabbi of Drohobycz, is considered to be one of the greatest Israeli poets of the twentieth century. Chaim Nachman Bialik and Nelly Sachs called Shin Shalom “king of peace” and “pioneer of cross-culture dialogue”. Literary historians of Hebrew literature regard him as the main exponent of modernism. The descendant of the Drohobyczian dynasty came to be known as the master of paradox in the spirit of ancient prophets of Israel. The poetic work of Shin Shalom reveals tension between human existence and historicity. Poems “Hidden Light”, “Small Window” and “Pure Beauty” are the masterpieces of symbolism and Hasidic spirituality.
Shin Shalom’s grandfather, even in time of period of persecutions toward Jews, was a true lover of Jerusalem, charismatic city of justice. Chaim Schapira was awarded the title Admor, generally reserved for the heads of Hasidic communities. The Drohobyczian Rabbi believed that Jerusalem Temple would become a place of dialogue and prayer for different cultures. Shapira was the advocate of unity over religious divisions. The Admor awaited reconciliation between Jews and Catholics in the Holy Land.
Shin Shalom was born in 1904 in Parczew, near Lublin, city of tzaddikis. He received traditional Hasidic and secular education. In Vienna, where his family moved in the wake of World War I, he started to write poetry, at first in German, and then in Hebrew. In 1922 he immigrated to Palestine. In 1926 he joined members of his family to found Kfar Hasidim. From 1930 to 1931 he studied philosophy at the University in Erlangen. This Hebrew poet taught literature in Jerusalem, Hadera and Rosh Pina. In 1990 Shalom was given honorary citizenship of Haifa.
Shin Shalom received several international literary awards and presided over the Hebrew Writers Association. Ada Aharoni, Israeli poet and translator of Shin Shalom from Hebrew into English is the initiator of the International Shin Shalom Poetry Competition which attracts poets and philosophers from all over the world. In 1992 Professor Aharoni, candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, organized XIII World Congress of Poets in Haifa dedicated to the memory of Shin Shalom. After the Congress Nathan Aluf expressed his gratitude toward the Drohobyczian demiurge who was the architect of bridges between cultures.
In his Hebrew poetry Shin Shalom, comes back to Drohobycz, the Promised Land and the city of his grandfathers. For this peace visionary, Drohobycz is the center of the Hasidic movement in Eastern Europe and the harp of David with recording arias of divided nations. Shin Shalom’s poetry is full of apocalyptic prophecy and visions of Messiah who will expand covenant and bring the Kingdom of Love and Peace.
Posted: 2016/07/30 Filed under: IFLAC News
Islamic State: Differing Viewpoints
By Pejman Masrouri
When walking around my college campus, I encounter people who hold all manner of ideas and beliefs about the world. While many people have very interesting viewpoints which make for great conversation and debate, others hold such radical notions that I often find myself surprised that such viewpoints exist. These views may include ideas of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and all manner of conspiracy theories which range from the moon landings being faked, to the government orchestrating the attacks on September 11th. I am not talking about hearing this on the internet or the radio, but from active students at American universities. One more recent fringe viewpoint that especially baffles me that I have increasingly heard is the apologetic outlook towards the murderous death cult known as the Islamic State.
Apologists have proposed numerous excuses and justifications for the existence and actions of the Islamic State, a rather futile gesture as they have a long way to go to convince the people of the world of the “benefits” of the Islamic State. Maybe they should start in the Islamic world which seems quite opposed to having their nations conquered by these jihadist madmen. The apologists try to paint the Islamic State in a positive way through various lenses such as viewing it as anti-imperialist and a trans-national movement. I have even heard arguments which compared the Islamic State to the European Union, another trans-national organization, however given the extreme xenophobia which IS shows towards all places that are not Sunni Islamic, I highly doubt their commitment to such cosmopolitan ideas. To compare IS to the EU, either stems from complete ignorance of IS or the EU, or even both. In the EU, the member states voluntarily entered and can voluntarily leave. Member states are very much independent and autonomous, and most importantly, the EU respects international law and respects human rights, something IS breaks by the minute. Living under the Islamic State is anything but voluntary, as they spread their domain by conquering the local populace, where they generally enjoy minimal popularity at best. The greatest reason why they lack popularity and loyalty from the local communities in Iraq and Syria aside from their medieval brutality, is the fact that they themselves are tailored to a specific identity group of Sunni Arabs. This makes them very undesirable not only to other religions but also to Shia Muslims, which constitute the majority in Iraq, as well as to the non-Arab ethnic groups, notably including among the large population of Kurds, who have mounted firm resistance to IS in both Iraq and Syria. The vast majority of the Islamic world itself has denounced the Islamic State and many have actively contributed to the fight against it.
Yet many seem convinced of a future for the Islamic state, of a reachable victory within range. The longevity of the Islamic State is in question as it sits in a rather precarious position in unstable Iraq and war-torn Syria, having had large swathes of its territory lost, and continued resistance from local factions. Not to mention the combined effort of the international community to destroy them. Furthermore, I am skeptical at best of their ability to rule over the actual population of their territory as an effective government. With all of these undermining factors involved, a glorious future of victory for the Islamic State is dubious at best, and I doubt this “Islamic EU” will be able stay alive, let alone spread to the other Islamic countries in the world as it is written as their highly ambitious goal. Often time this grand idea of destroying national borders earns praise especially when put in the context of a post-colonial Middle East whereas the borders and divisions between the nations originate from the colonial powers carving up the Middle East into various protectorates, most evident in the Sykes-Picot agreement of WWI. Many have come to view these divisions as a means to counter Arab nationalism, and pan-Islamism, and all attempts to reconcile these changes by unifying the nations has failed. This has led some to portray the Islamic State as being the latest iteration in the continuation of this postcolonial struggle to destroy the artificial barriers between the Islamic countries.
I question the ethics of anyone who sympathizes with the Islamic State, regardless of these empty justifications to excuse the endless bloodshed and cruelty brought about by the Islamic State both within Iraq and Syria as well as across the world as whole, who have suffered numerous acts of terror which can be traced back to these butchers. We pride our western societies for their open-mindedness, but we must not let such liberal policies of tolerance keep us from speaking out against those that support hatred and terror.
Posted: 2016/07/30 Filed under: IFLAC News
My IFLAC Experience
By Pejman Masrouri
My time here in Haifa has flown by but I feel emboldened by the experience and the atmosphere I have been working in. The time I have spent in the company of professor Ada Aharoni with the IFLAC organization has especially been rewarding. As an individual student who is early in his academic work I previously felt quite powerless to affect change in the world but I now know that, as professor Aharoni states, we can have an impact “with all the power of our pens, our computers, our smartphones and our creative works.”
As a Baha’i I share IFLAC’s vision of peace in the world and being physically in the city of Haifa, the center of the Baha’i faith, has put me at the heart of this vision. In my free time I have made it a point to visit the Baha’i Gardens as much as possible and talk to the volunteers and pilgrims present. This has added to my experience and my resolve to be a peace-maker in my future career. The idea that people from all over the globe arrive in Haifa with the same belief in their hearts—that we are all citizens of one earth, “flowers of one garden,”—is very inspiring.
My love of history has also been reinforced with the information I have gained from Dr. Aharoni’s treatises on the Second Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. This chapter in history has been gravely understudied, even by most Israelis, despite the fact that more than half the Jewish population in Israel can trace their family heritage back to the Second Exodus. It furthermore was a huge event in Middle Eastern history and I feel that it carries an important message and the prospect of future reconciliation, that Arab and Jew were quite capable of living in peace and that it can happen again. It has been a true pleasure to assist IFLAC in promoting our mutual goal of peace, and especially working with professor Aharoni, who has become something of a mentor for me in these past several weeks. I have assisted her in writing numerous pieces, including several reviews of many peace books as well as writing articles which promote the culture of peace. I have furthermore assisted professor Aharoni with her responsibilities as the president of IFLAC in further promoting peace in our world.
Working alongside professor Aharoni has taught me much and has been of great benefit in honing my own academic skills. Besides the professional side of my internship, I greatly enjoyed the personal company of professor Aharoni. Together she and I had a great many conversations on a variety of topics, mostly pertaining to history, current events, and culture. I especially enjoyed our discussions about Iran, where much of my family still lives. I was greatly impressed by her vast knowledge of the history and culture of Iran, as well as hearing her own stories and experiences living in Iran in the 1970’s. Very few people I come across in my travels understand many of the complexities of Iranian culture, let alone had directly experienced living in the nation prior to Islamic Revolution of 1979, and I must admit I am quite jealous of her in that regard, as I have always dreamed of living in the Iran prior to the revolution instead of the unfortunate one our world is stuck with now. Overall my experience interning with IFLAC has been a tremendous moment in my life as it was another opportunity for me to spread the vision of a world at peace which I share with my IFLAC comrades across the world, and believe that our work is the first step to accomplishing this dream.