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Yalla Peace: Glimmers of hope in a growing sea of hate
By RAY HANANIA 11/16/2011 JERUSALEM POST
Up-and-coming leaders are offering the kind of hope
that even Netanyahu and Abu Mazen fail to demonstrate.
With so much hatred and anger swirling on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, it is encouraging to see so many people who are still determined to look past the ugliness.
While so many are trying to keep Palestinians and Israelis apart with hate rhetoric, columns and speeches, Doron Tzur, Kamal Nawash and Joe Avesar are trying hard to bring Palestinians and Israelis together.
Two events will take place in Jerusalem in the next few weeks. The first is a conference on November 28 at the Ambassador Hotel in east Jerusalem entitled, “The Best Plans,” which brings together new ideas for peace.
Tzur, who initiated the conference, writes, “I believe that once it becomes evident that there are such plans – or if it becomes evident that there are not – life is going to become better for all people here.
If there are such plans, as I tend to believe, the task will be to choose among good alternatives. If there aren’t, it will become clear that the conflict has to be managed until the people ‘ripen,’ and that currently settlements will have to depend on external forces or they would break, potentially leading to very bad consequences.”
Tzur has partnered with Nawash, a Palestinian lawyer in Washington, DC, who heads the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, a group that has come under attack from extremist religious and even jealous secular American Arab groups that don’t like his focus on opposing “terrorism.” Nawash is from Ein Kerem but lived in Ramallah before coming to the US.
But Nawash has made progress in a way that most of the American Arab organizations have not. While those groups hold conferences to raise money, they do little except promote their dictator-for-life presidents.
Nawash’s organization actually is rolling up its sleeves to do something, including this conference to bring peace activists together.
Nawash says that for two decades, the “two-state solution” has been widely accepted as “the only solution” to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, yet no specific plan based on this principle has ever been accepted by the majority of Palestinians and Israelis. So, in partnership with Doron Tzur, he has set out to find a plan that can be accepted by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians.
AVESAR IS a Jewish lawyer from Encino, California, and the author of a recent book called Peace: A Case for Israeli Palestinian Confederation.
When I interviewed Avesar recently on my Dearborn, Michigan, morning radio show (Radio Baladi), Avesar explained that “confederation” might be a way to bring both sides together in a way that reinforces Israel’s existence while creating Palestinian nationhood.
“The Israeli-Palestinian Confederation would make the most sense to create peace; creating a third government that brings the Israeli and Palestinian people together as one government,” Avesar explained.
While Tzur and Nawash are looking at peace plans, Avesar’s movement is pushing to actually elect representatives to the Confederation at elections in east Jerusalem and Bethlehem – many Palestinians are prohibited from entering Jerusalem so they have to have a second location, like Bethlehem. The elections, he explained, will take place on December 12 at the Ambassador Hotel in east Jerusalem and at Talitha Kumi in Bethlehem the following day.
This convention will take place exactly one year before the general election the group would like to hold on December 12, 2012.
Avesar said he hopes the Confederation will elect delegates and a “president” – either Israeli or Palestinian – who will represent their movement.
There are many out there who will scoff at Tzur, Nawash and Avesar for their efforts, saying they will do not good, but I disagree. The fact is that while the critics complain a lot, they do very little to create or build. They can only tear things down. I call them “arsonists.”
Tzur, Nawash and Avesar are offering the kind of leadership that even the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, fail to demonstrate.
There is a lot of worthless name-calling, and the only winner in the blame game is failure.
Here are some links you can check out if you want to turn away from the hatred that feeds the violence, uncertainty and tragedy and put your efforts in to something positive: For the Tzur/Nawash-led event, go to TheBestPlans.org.
For Avesar’s Confederation event, go to ipconfederation.org For the interview with Avesar, go to RadioBaladi.com People who brush aside hope and fail to dream are destined to live a life of conflict. But those who dream about peace and work to make those dreams a reality are the ones that will one day lead Israelis and Palestinians to the promised land.
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist.
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com