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Nonviolence and Violence, the Shocking Difference

 For decades, there was hardly any opening in this strong police state to train and plan for creative and steadfast nonviolent social change. Some of us as peace activists did our best to introduce even the mildest ideas of social change at great personal risk to our Syrian friends. For over ten years I had been working steadily in Syria with Syrian partners on interfaith diplomacy and peacebuilding. We built bridges between both average people and between influential people across the spectrum from Alewite, Sunni, Shiite, Catholic, Protestant, and atheist. We engaged in what nonviolence practitioners refer to as exercises in solidarity.

We built a cadre of students in conflict resolution from young to old, inside and outside the government. We did this work with the grudging permission of the regime, through clever strategies of diplomacy. We also enjoyed the friendship of some Western …

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I was about to publish the piece below one day ago. It was based on a press conference of the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday, July 21, 2013. But just two days later, the same Foreign Ministry spokesperson contradicted his own statement that America had been invited to the inauguration. This is a highly unusual development that I will analyze below, and the story may still be unfolding. But first read this piece:

 

Return the Gesture: Invite President Rowhani of Iran to the White House 

Hasan RowhaniThe Foreign Ministry of Iran has invited the European Union and the United States
to attend the inauguration of President Rowhani on August 4. The evidence of history suggests that the smart thing for the United States to do is seize the moment and quickly return the friendly gesture. The White House should invite President Rowhani to the White House on September 21, the …

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Washington (CNN) — An ancient Persian symbol of freedom, tolerance and coexistence has joined documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Emancipation Proclamation in Washington.

The Cyrus Cylinder represents the spirit and ideals of Cyrus, the leader of the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century B.C. After peacefully conquering Babylon in 539 B.C.and declaring his principles on the cylinder, Cyrus freed the Jewish population of Babylon from long bondage and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Cyrus Cylinder inspired many throughout history — in particular 18th century Enlightenment philosophers, historians and politicians in Europe and America — as a source of their thinking on human rights, settling conflicts and leadership.

Thomas Jefferson reportedly owned two copies of the Cyropaedia, Xenophon’s biography of Cyrus, and carried it for inspiration and guidance.

Today — far from ancient Persia and the Enlightenment, in a different, far more

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Folks please see my essay on Iran, Israel, U.S. and a very different view of nuclear standoff and future possibilities, finally published in Huffiington Post here and reproduced below. Please feel free to comment, critique, pass on to others.  

There is a pervasive fear that is being spread by American, Israeli and Sunni Gulf leaders that the most dangerous development in modern history will be the capacity of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. The fear of nuclear weapons is a natural one, and it is well deserved, because a nuclear weapon is far and away the worst technological innovation of murder ever developed in human history, probably the worst that ever will be developed. 

It is especially understandable that Israel, composed mostly of Jews, many of whom are from Holocaust families, would be especially vulnerable to the fear of sudden and mass extermination by inveterate enemies. By some estimates, …

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There is a pervasive fear that is being spread by American, Israeli and Sunni Gulf leaders that the most dangerous development in modern history will be the capacity of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. The fear of nuclear weapons is a natural one, and it is well deserved, because a nuclear weapon is far and away the worst technological innovation of murder ever developed in human history, probably the worst that ever will be developed.

It is especially understandable that Israel, composed mostly of Jews many of whom are from Holocaust families, would be especially vulnerable to the fear of sudden and mass extermination by inveterate enemies. Israel has almost 400 advanced nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and yet there seems to be no limits to the fears that leaders can generate at even the possibility that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons.

Nuclear terror almost brought the world to

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Diplomats Discuss Bashar al-Assad’s Future as Syria Fights Rebels – NYTimes.com.

 

This is an important article on the stage we find ourselves in of the Syrian revolution. Russia’s defense to the last of the Assad regime is a significant political reality that points much more deeply to the problem and challenge of global, that is, Security Council consensus on matters of global governance when massive human rights abuses are occurring. We are still at a kind of Cold War impasse when it comes to the spheres of influence of the United States, Europe and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other. The United States political narrative on such matters, and in such crunch times, runs something like this:

We the United States stand for human rights and democracy, and Russia and China only care about defending illiberal states and their sovereignty because …

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Not an Arab Spring, but a Human Spring

by mgopin on July 24, 2011 · 4 comments

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Maybe we are not in an Arab Spring, but a Human Spring. Maybe it is the flowering of nonviolent resistance, and it is time for Jews and Arabs to march as one in Israel/Palestine, and it is time for Americans to march as one to put the banks back into the controls that helped us flourish in the forties and fifties.

אולי אנחנו לא באביב ערבי, אבל האביב האדם. אולי זה הוא הפריחה של התנגדות לא אלימה, וזה הזמן עבור יהודים וערבים כאחד לצעוד בישראל / פלסטין, וזה הזמן עבור האמריקנים לצעוד כאחד לשים את הבנקים בחזרה את הפקדים עזרו לנו לפרוח שנות הארבעים והחמישים.

ربما نحن لسنا في الربيع العربي، ولكن فصل الربيع الإنسان. ربما هو ازدهار المقاومة اللاعنفية، وحان الوقت لليهود والعرب في مسيرة واحدة في إسرائيل / فلسطين ، وحان الوقت بالنسبة للأميركيين لمسيرة واحدة لوضع المصارف بالعودة الى الضوابط التي ساعدتنا في ازدهار الأربعينات والخمسينات.

 …

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This is a wonderful article, very important timing. Ria is absolutely right on, except I suspect strongly that Petreaus is much more of an ally than she thinks. But there are other problems with the American military and political system that are preventing the rational approach that she is recommending. The ideology of killing, hard conquest, is in the way, and it still afflicts enough people at various levels of authority that moving quickly now is hard. But that is where progressives need to step up and lobby hard, with money, to do the right thing.

A role for the US in Afghan national reconciliation? by Shukria Dellawar – Common Ground News Service.


A role for the US in Afghan national reconciliation?
by Shukria Dellawar

05 August 2010

Washington, DC – In June, at the latest loya jirga (a grand assembly comprised of tribal leaders) meeting in Kabul, 1,600

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I was reading this headline in Ha’aretz and by sheer accident, it was in the same column as another headline, “A superb day for the Jewish people’: Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court judge”

And I was just struck by the paradox of pride and shame of being an identified Jew in 2010. On the one hand, another Jewish woman reaches the most honored position of legal wisdom in the United States, an achievement that in my youth I would have called a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of the Divine Name, a testimony to the hard work of centuries of her forebears who kept alive Talmud study and the search for knowledge and wisdom and now, thankfully, yielding the proper results with the honor of women as equals in achievement.

And then, and then….The same page, also an enormously distinguished good woman, my cousin as a Jew, someone of …

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This will be a long, hard fought battle that will leave Muslims quite weary, but it has been engaged before and successfully won. Just ask Catholics a hundred years ago, or Jews two hundred years ago. This will require persistence, coalition building, compromise, honesty, an evolution in communication skills, and patience above all. But I believe that history demonstrates that Americans of common sense generally win in the long run. I believe we are just witnessing the second wave of organized hatred that comes from political opportunists (who often wear religious garb). It will exhaust itself in embarrassment as it reaches absurd limits. Critics of Islam with legitimate gripes, such as Wafa Sultan, will begin to distance themselves from hatreds they did not intend to unleash, as everyone learns, in every generation unfortunately, that nothing good comes of hate, and the mob is not controllable.

While a high-profile battle rages

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