Following the lead of our partners in Palestine and Israel, we're shifting our focus in the region toward support for active nonviolence. Lasting peace requires skill, practice, sacrifice, and strategy to be effective in reaching its goal. The solutions aren't perfect, and won't come quickly--but they're possible.
Karuna Center currently has two initiatives to support the rising peace efforts of everyday Israelis and Palestinians:
New Program! - Supporting New Palestinian Voices for Peace
Once the translation into Arabic is complete, we will work with CARE-Palestine to co-facilitate in-depth workshops based on the training guide. We will train and mentor Palestinian high school teachers and social service providers to integrate conflict transformation practices into their daily work. We believe this could have a great ripple effect. Our goal is both to interrupt harmful cycles of violence within Palestine, and to educate young people in practical skills for building peace.
Photo above: participants in a previous CARE-Palestine workshop for Palestinian schools
Program Update: Our Work with Combatants for Peace
At CfP’s request, Karuna Center founder Paula Green recently co-facilitated a training in Active Non-Violence with UMass Professor of Resistance Studies Stellan Vinthagen. While the content of the 5-day workshop focused on improving CfP’s nonviolent skills and strategies, the facilitation strengthened their relationships and understanding across the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Over the course of five days, Paula and Stellan helped 20 members of CfP’s steering committee—10 Palestinians, and 10 Israelis—to work closely together to make practical plans for expanding their movement and increasing the effectiveness of their nonviolent activism—ideas they will all bring back to their membership base for further planning.
Our strategy sessions focused particularly on strengthening CfP’s monthly Freedom March, a growing nonviolent action that takes place regularly in the Bethlehem area near Jerusalem, which is accessible to some Palestinians and some Israelis (no areas are accessible to everyone). It is the only large demonstration in a Palestinian area with joint participation. It has grown to include hundreds of people each time, and is beginning to attract Israeli TV attention. Throughout, the group focused on ways to increase Israeli empathy toward Palestinians who are living under conditions of occupation. As an example, the group came up with the idea of creating public opportunities to use FaceTime and Skype to invite everyday Israelis and West Bank Palestinians to interact from either side of the separation wall.
Even with the close relationships between CfP members, it was evident at every moment of the workshop that the Israeli and Palestinian participants are living in starkly different circumstances. One of the Palestinians spoke of his grandparents losing their home and land in 1948, becoming refugees in Dheisheh Refugee Camp. Three generations later, he still lives there—truly illustrating to all of us the reasons for despair.
CfP is a light in this darkness, committed to working together and joining with others to end the occupation. For that reason, each experience with them feels worthwhile and we are making our own very small contribution to reducing this suffering—not only for Palestinians, but for everyone. Israeli participants mentioned frequently that ending the occupation would also free their own people, as everyone is currently trapped in a dilemma that is not of their own making but is deeply impacting their lives.