Taking account of the original meaning of ‘inextricability’ among Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis, the paper aims at exploring whether joint Palestinian and Israeli Jewish viewpoints should be considered as a feasible scenario. With the purpose of deconstructing conventional approaches towards resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the leitmotiv of the study is centered on the critical examination of the most prominent intellectual debates and historic examples that have challenged a daily reality developed around fear and hostility directed against the so-called Other. In this way, whilst recognizing a number of failures experienced by the majority of joint initiatives, I suggest how this type of political perspective has made it possible for potentially useful initiatives to emerge within the worsening context of military occupation and conflicting narratives.
Issue ID: 05
A Christian Look at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Bruno Hussar and the Foundation of "Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam"
In 1970, after a long genesis, the joint Israeli and Palestinian experience of the village of ‘Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam’ (‘oasis of peace’) began. Among the decisive figures for the start of this project, Father Bruno Hussar (1911-1996) was the most important, although his life has not yet been explored by historiography. Born in Egypt to assimilated Jewish parents, during his studies in France he converted to Christianity. In 1953 he was sent to Israel in order to open a Dominican centre for Jewish and Christian studies. During those years the idea of a place where to experiment a direct form of coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel took shape in Hussar’s mind. My paper aims to investigate his complex figure, combining Judaism, Christianity, adherence to Zionism and commitment to peace. The analysis will be carried out mainly using three types of sources: the documents gathered in different archives, the association bulletin and the texts published by him.
Constructing Peace….but What Kind of Peace?
Women's Activism, Strategies and Discourse against War (Israel-Palestine 1950-2012)
Israeli and Palestinian women played a vital role in the difficult process of achieving peace and restoring dialogue. Meeting and organizing away from the spotlight, women held discussions with each other and proposed ways to bring about reconciliation, as well as constructing alternatives to violence and war.
Women from both sides of the Green Line and within Israel were particularly active during the first Intifada, building a genuine women’s peace movement while being engaged in protest activities, lobbying and solidarity actions. These grassroots organizations, which were clearly anti- occupation, took part in non-mixed activities and occasionally subverted and deconstructed national identities. In addition to these innovative and intensive activities in the field, political women and social activists tried to develop women’s diplomacy at international meetings. Important joint declarations were endorsed at these pioneering conferences, which helped to prepare the ground for future international peace agreements. The outbreak of the El-Aqsa Intifada, and the disillusionment with the Oslo process, lead Israeli women to re-launch their activities in a more radical way, while the peace camp was demobilized. This new shape of activism included a broad spectrum of protest activities, combining the fight against occupation, feminist issues and anti-militarism.
The most durable legacy from women’s peace activism was the formulation of new political discourses which defined peace in terms of a global concept that clearly links gender oppression and national oppression and creates an alternative discourse strongly opposed to violent and militarist options.
This paper discusses the history, organization, networks and political outlook of the state of Israel’s first conscientious objectors (COs) in the 1950s, and the consequences they confronted, individually and as a group. Despite it being a very unlikely period for the foundation of such a movement, a small branch of ‘War Resisters’ International’ (WRI, 1921) was established in Israel in 1947. This paper discusses what can the attitudes towards COs tell of the early history of the State of Israel, especially at a time when conscientious objection was not recognized as a right almost anywhere. The history of the first Israeli COs breaks a number of assumptions, albeit contradictory ones: on the one hand it strengthens the image of Israel as a militaristic country; on the other, it shows that institutions were in Israel more tolerant towards COs than other countries; it shows that COs were the supporters of an non ethnically homogenous society and, most of all, that, even in a decade such as the 1950s, a different and deep voice was trying to make itself heard. This paper is based on primary sources from the WRI archives and on the correspondence that Israeli COs entertained with WRI in the 1950s
In God’s Name: Jewish Religious and Traditional Peace and Human Rights Movements in Israel and in the Occupied Territories
The peace-building activities of several dozens peace and human rights activists from Israeli-Jewish religious and traditional milieus 1 has not received enough attention either from the Israeli and international media or in the academia. Actually, following the Six-day war and the beginning of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a certain number of Orthodox Israelis committed to peace and justice founded a Jewish religious peace movement called ‘Oz Ve Shalom’ (‘Strength and Peace’). A few years later, another peace movement called ‘Netivot Shalom’ (‘Paths of Peace’) was founded by Israeli yeshiva students and young new immigrants from the United States. At the end of the 1980s, in the wake of the first Intifada, a small circle of religious and traditional Israeli rabbis committed to the respect of human rights came to the fore and, more recently, a group of Hasidic settlers inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Menahem Froman has created a peace group called ‘Eretz Shalom’ (‘Land of Peace’). This essay, mainly based on primary sources such as periodicals, bulletins, newsletters, monographs, leaflets and other diverse material published by these movements, and on oral testimonies collected by the Author, retraces the history of these religious peace groups in a cohesive framework.
Peace Now,’ the leading Israeli peace organization, has mobilized the public to press governments to reach peace agreements, protest wars and oppression of Palestinians, obstruct settlements in the Occupied Territories and develop dialogue with Palestinians. Focusing on 1987-93, this essay conceptualizes the advocacy of peace by ‘Peace Now’ as public relations activity that promotes images of peace. It communicated its ideas by means of slogans in the form of material signs which were figured graphically in print media, on posters, flyers, placards and stickers. The images of peace that ‘Peace Now’ promoted belong to the category of political images, which are not simply pictures or visual images, but condensations of complex ideas, conceptions and experiences of peace. ‘Peace Now’ promoted three main images of peace from 1987 to 1993: peace as negotiation and compromise; peace as the ending of the oppression of occupation; and peace as separation between Israelis and Palestinians. While there are ambiguities within and tensions between all three images, the key trouble for the advocacy of peace of ‘Peace Now’ was that its third image of peace as separation undermined the other two, ultimately creating a recipe for ‘unilateral peace.’
To what extent did first Intifada memories and experiences influence nonviolent activism in the second Intifada? Specifically, how did prior individual or collective identities contribute to activists opting for nonviolent strategies in the post-Oslo period, and how effective were such identities in mobilizing others? This article examines how activists’ lived experiences with resistance in the first Intifada influenced their decisions regarding tactics and strategy in the second Intifada. It also discusses the limitations of using memory for mobilization in the face of new challenges, arguing that nostalgia for past eras can be a double-edged sword in motivating participation in later attempts at nonviolent struggle. The study is based on interviews with activists in the West Bank conducted by the author during the second Intifada.
Broadening Jewish History
Towards a Social History of Ordinary Jews
Established in 1998, ‘Holy Land Trust’ (HLT) serves to empower the Palestinian community in Bethlehem to discover its strengths and resources to confront the present and future challenges of life under occupation. The staff, through a commitment to the principles of nonviolence, seeks to mobilize the local community, regardless of religion, gender, or political affiliation, to resist oppression in all forms and build a model for the future based on justice, equality, and respect.
his article places the work of HLT in the literature of nonviolent action and amid the nonviolent movement set by predecessors in the tumultuous history of Palestinian-Israeli relations. HLT programs and projects are presented to demonstrate the progression of nonviolent resistance from lofty goals to strategic empowerment. In a region so often defined by extremes, HLT embodies the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement.