Advocacy

Reflections on recent events

by mgopin on October 21, 2015 · 0 comments

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Originally posted here on Oct. 19, 2015.

I am starting to see very clearly that there are those people who have the moral and emotional intelligence to understand two sides of a conflict, two enemies at once, and there are those who need to demonize someone in every situation. There are those who can empathize with their own community and with another, and there are those who at every turn look to demonize one group and whitewash their own. These are two camps of humanity, one with an evolved mind, and one with a primitive mind. Educational levels and graduate degrees having nothing to do with these two camps.

I am horrified by the mob mentality, I am saddened by many people I have helped and defended, not from my own community, who the first chance they get, join virtual lynch mobs.

The fact is that it is easy to …

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There are important next steps being debated for what states can and should do to stop the current war, and set the stage for ending the current cycle of violence. That is not my subject. I thought recently that leaders are followers and followers are leaders, and neither knows it. The fact is that people and their individual initiatives have much more impact on the course of history than is acknowledged by government officials, by cynics, and by those too apathetic, too callous, or too fearful to act. If you are in that category, do not read forward. Just go back to Al Jazeera, Fox and CNN and choose a side. Or go back to Jon Stewart and have a good laugh.

Here is what is necessary, efforts that have worked before in history in changing the available information available to all parties so that more rational and more morally …

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Syria’s Christian Conundrum

by mgopin on June 8, 2012 · 6 comments

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by Hind Kabawat, CRDC Senior Research Analyst and Expert on Conflict Resolution

This article was originally published by CNN here.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.

As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.

On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the …

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By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).

Damascus, Syria

May 20, 2011

Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.

What the …

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Israel and Palestine Transforming the Rhetoric

by mgopin on September 22, 2010 · 2 comments

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By Kobi Skolnick

This summer serious and even fatal events took place surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but even more significant ones are upon us now. These of course include the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the growing nonviolent movement on the ground. Just Vision’s film, Budrus, which is being released in the US and the UK, documents a part of this movement.

Whereas political negotiations represent the current leaders in power, the film represents the struggle of the people on the ground. Leaders on both sides have failed their people again and again. This is the right time for them to listen to those who are raising the option of pragmatic peace based on human interactions. As the official peace talks take place under the eye of the mainstream media, people in the US and the UK who view this film will see the growing …

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STOP CHEERING AND START HELPING

by mgopin on August 3, 2010 · 2 comments

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You have to watch this short five minute film to believe it. Watch a village steadily stolen illegally by the Jewish National Fund, finally destroyed by the IDF and the State with hundreds of police, and then rebuilt and reclaimed by Jews and Arabs, citizens of Israel, together.

You don’t have to believe that this is exactly what the JNF has been doing for over a hundred years, you don’t have to read the long and complicated history through the eyes of Israel’s leading analysts like Tom Segev in One Palestine Complete, just look at five minutes of video to see the destruction of olive trees and the theft of land through planting ‘Jewish’ trees, donated by clueless American Jews, no doubt, as Arabs watch helplessly their entire village demolished. But then watch Jews and Arabs together rebuilding in a single day. Feel the power and the determination.

When …

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Respect partyThe current European headlines are dominated by France and Belgium’s impending face-veil legislation, but there is another, more important, story that isn’t getting as much attention—that of a quiet revolution throughout Europe of Muslim women emerging onto the political scene.

One of the most prominent examples is that of Salma Yaqoob in the UK. Yaqoob, a prospective parliament candidate, is the most prominent Muslim woman in British public life today. She herself wears a headscarf, a powerful symbol of a faith she has accommodated with her passionate leftwing politics. She represents UK’s Respect party and has a pretty good chance of making history as one of the first British Muslim women MPs. There are other Muslim women running for seats in Birmingham, Bethnal Green, Bolton South and other cities.

Sadly, however, by virtue of being both Muslim and women, Yaqoob and others face opposition from all sides who don’t believe …

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Dear readers,

Welcome to the “Islam’s new Kartinis” series here on MarcGopin.com! As explained in my last post, this column will focus on Muslim women from around the world who work to bring positive incremental change to their communities and beyond. This month, we’re featuring Valerie Khan Yusufzai, chairperson of the Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan.

 

Valerie Khan Yusufzai speaks publicly about acid violence

Valerie Khan Yusufzai speaks publicly about acid violence

 Raquel: Have you always been interested in human rights work?

Valerie:  I grew up in a family where the ideas of freedom, thoughtfulness and fighting for what you believe is right were very much present. My great-grandparents resisted against the Germans in the First World War. My great-grandfather even received the Legion D’Honneur for excellent military conduct. This is the highest distinction for a French soldier. My grandfather, at age 19, joined the clandestine French forces to fight the Nazis during the Second …

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After 40 Years of Wilderness, J Street Meets at the River’s Edge: Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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Tonight and for the next few days, in Washington DC, 1200 people are gathering in the name of a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” US policy. Because of my broken leg, I can’t be physically there. But my mind and spirit and 40 years of my work are there today.

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1969, I visited Israel for the first time. On the same trip, guided by a brilliant Israeli kibbutznik-sociologist, Dan Leon, I also visited Palestinian leaders in Hebron, East Jerusalem, and Gaza — old-fashioned notables, social workers, lawyers.

To a person, they told me they had marched and spoken out against occupation by Jordan or Egypt, and would oppose occupation by Israel. They said they had no objection to Israel as it had been before the 1967 war.

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Two Recommended Webcasts

by mgopin on October 7, 2009 · 4 comments

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From our good friends at the Backdoor Broadcasting Company in the United Kingdom:

Psycho-Political Resistance in Israel-Palestine

This conference, the first of its kind in the UK, addresses the remarkable projects of certain groups working in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank involved in joint resistance to ongoing military conflict and occupation. Working for mental health and human rights on the front lines involving military aggression, internal group violence, systemic interference with basic human rights, brutalization on many fronts and deep pessimism on all sides, speakers will address any and all resources for combined resistance and shared hope, whether close to home or coming from abroad. The recent catastrophic attack on the civilian population of Gaza, at the eye of the storm of sites of conflict in Western eyes, makes this event both critical and significant.

Themes:

* Survival and Non-Violent Resistance in Gaza and the West Bank

* Psychoactive …

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