civil rights movements

Ineffective tightening of sanctions on Iran

by mgopin on December 12, 2011 · 7 comments

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This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011.  You can view it by clicking here .

Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.

Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …

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The Strategic Value of Forgiveness

by mgopin on November 16, 2011 · 10 comments

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A version of this essay appeared recently in the Jerusalem Report on November 21, 2011.

The Arab Awakening is facing serious challenges, and some new strategic decisions are required that will end up being good for all the revolutionary movements afoot this year, in the Middle East, in Israel and beyond.

The essential point is this: The Arab Street has demonstrated incredible heroism and nonviolent principles in the face of torture and death, and even Libya began as a very peaceful revolution, even if Libyans felt at some point that they had no choice but to fight. This is a paradigm shift of ethical and political values that will be remembered for generations. It may also signify a broad-based Middle Eastern democratic shift.

The going is tough, however, because no revolution easily dislodges corrupt structures of power. The temptation is just too great for those immediately below the revolution’s chosen …

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By Dr. Marc Gopin and Aziz Abu Sarah

In his speech to the Central Council of the PLO in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced his strategy to end the occupation. The President stressed in his speech that he will not retreat from seeking recognition of the Palestinian state from the United Nations. Abbas had been under enormous pressure to withdraw the request for recognition of a Palestinian State on borders of June 1967. He announced that 122 nations are already in favor of the draft submitted to the UN. Concerning US opposition, he referred to the fact that this has not been communicated in a formal manner.

President Abbas surprised many of his listeners when he spoke about another element of his strategy. Perhaps for the first time Abbas highlighted clearly his vision of the Palestinian people’s active participation to achieve the dream of a Palestinian state. He called …

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From the explosion of Osama Bin Laden into our consciousness on that terrible day in 2001, all the way to his death, feels like a frame of existence, a distinct period of our history and fate as an American community. There have been many deadly wars since then that America has participated in or supported. As an American Jew and a veteran peacebuilder in the Middle East, I also feel like this decade has been a whirlwind of violence, from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza, and now to Arab countries in which I had worked, especially Syria where I put my heart and soul.

Every war, every massive act of violence, always makes me reflect anew on the origins and nature of human violence, and on its opposites, empathy, compassion, and love. We humans have made so many efforts through the millennia to create one political arrangement after another in …

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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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This month, I have the pleasure and honor of introducing you to one of my dear friends, Nurish Amanah. Nurish is an educator and student from Java, Indonesia. As I’ve mentioned before, the point of this column isn’t just to highlight well-known figures in the Muslim community. It is also to introduce you to women who are working for positive incremental change within and beyond their communities – but whose efforts aren’t seen by the mainstream media or general public.

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