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Tanenbaum Peacemaker Receives International Peace Prize

Tanenbaum Peacemaker Receives International Peace Prize

A Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action is back in the news! Ricardo Esquivia’s organization, Sembrandopaz, which is based in the town of Sincelejo, in Sucre, Colombia, was just awarded the 2014 World Vision International Peace Prize.

The award is given out annually by World Vision International to acknowledge courageous “individuals or organizations that excel in peacebuilding or peacemaking”. There were six finalists from India, Pakistan, Yemen, Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Colombia vying for this year’s award. In the end, it was Ricardo’s organization that was selected for their “dedication to an inclusive, holistic and just peace,” becoming the first Latin American foundation to receive the World Vision International Peace Prize.

Ricardo is known for his fearless work in building national and regional dialogues with legal and illegal armed groups. Sembrandopaz supports sustainable development initiatives in Colombia’s Caribbean region. Additionally, Sembrandopaz works with grassroots organizations to improve their capacity for facilitating peace at the community level.

Based on the traditions of the Mennonite Church, Sembrandopaz is devoted to the transformation of communities and their peaceful and sustainable development.

Gaza and Israel: Which Side is Tanenbaum on?

As the Israel-Gaza violence escalates, I get more and more inquires about the organization I lead, asking where Tanenbaum stands and calling on us to speak out. In a number of ways, albeit not always directly, we have tried to say that we are torn apart by the violence on both sides. But that is not enough. It is time to try to clarify, though I know that many will not be satisfied because they want Tanenbaum and me to take a side.

We do take a side – it is the side of life. And the pursuit of a more peaceful world where differences – including religious differences – can thrive.

That means that Tanenbaum unequivocally condemns the use and abuse of religion in the furtherance of violence and geo-political aims.

It means that we denounce the extremists on both sides, who fuel war, horrific violence and hate.

It means that we oppose the verbal violence and rhetoric, the stereotypes and the “othering” that makes the human beings on both sides seem less human.

It means that Tanenbaum abhors war and violence, and that our hearts ache for the victims on both sides.

We are watching a human catastrophe for which words fail. Real people live in Israel and Gaza– people like you and me, who simply want to live their lives. Instead, they are being brutalized.

We see the Palestinian mother who watched her child die from a bomb. And the Palestinian father who is unable to keep his family safe. They are real, and I cannot imagine their agony. So too, is the Israeli mother who buries her son. And the Jewish child in Israel, who knows that she is alive today, only because Hitler did not finish what he started. And who also knows that the constant rockets mean that some of her neighbors are dedicated to making sure Hitler’s plan for her is finally realized.

These men, women and children – the real victims on both sides – are why Tanenbaum works to combat the abuse of religion and the violence. They are why we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace for all.

This is where we stand. On the side of life. The death and devastation must stop.

Free Islamic Peace Education Report

IPR

On July 28, many Muslims in the  United States and across the  globe will be celebrating the  conclusion of Ramadan, the    holiday of Eid-al-Fitr.

The Eid-al-Fitr is the festival  and/or feast of the breaking of  the fast, a time of mutual  acknowledgement for Muslims  who have been fasting  throughout the country and  around the world (depending on  their time zone).

To mark the Eid, we would like to share one of our blessings with you: what we learned when we convened four Islamic peace educators from vastly different backgrounds for a day-long exchange on their work in Islamic peace education.

The peace educators shared how they incorporate the topic of peace into their teaching. They shared their stories
and some of their Islamic peace education initiatives.

We – and they – learned from each other’s triumphs and challenges.

Participants included:

  • Jamila Afghani (Peacemaker in Action, 2008) from Kabul, Afghanistan;
  • Azhar (Azi) Hussain (Peacemaker in Action, 2006) from Dubai, UAE and Pakistan;
  • Sarrah Buker from Holmdel, New Jersey; and
  • Rabia Terri Harris from Stony Point, New York.

Today, we are excited to announce the release of Tanenbaum’s Islamic Peace Education report. The report traces each participant’s method and experience in advancing peaceful education from an Islamic perspective, often in the face of suspicion or adversity.

Download the report to learn more about this innovative information exchange.

Who’s watching the spiral of hate?

Who’s watching the spiral of hate?

For those of us who care about acknowledging the humanity in each person- these are dark days.

The Middle East is in flames. Religious practices across Asia and Southeast Asia are being snuffed out – from Christians and Falun Gong practitioners in China to Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist majority Myanmar. Christians are desperately fleeing their homes in northern Iraq. We object to this senseless hatred wherever it is found. And now, we see virulent anti-Semitism in Europe that horrifies us.

If you’re watching, you can see the anti-Semitic anger cutting across Europe as protestors respond to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. While we would always support the right to peacefully protest and express one’s views on the tragedy that is the Middle East, we still have to ask – Why are so many of the current protests devolving into hate, violence and, specifically, targeting hatred toward Jewish people?

At Tanenbaum, we condemn the violence that we see all around us – in the Middle East, in Africa and Asia. And that includes the violence that is threatening European communities, leaving many Jews fearing for their future. Frighteningly, what we are seeing in France and Germany is the tip of an iceberg. Data shows that anti-Semitism is a worldwide illness that has risen over the last 25 years.

As we watch the news unfold, we must pay attention to the violence being perpetrated in the name of religion and as a form of hatred for individuals of particular traditions. In addition to headlines that make us all so sorrowful, we must also make it a point to witness the harm that is not reaching the headlines. And that includes attacks toward Jews just walking on the street to synagogues being set aflame.

As we watch the spiral of hate seemingly spin out of control, we at Tanenbaum recommit ourselves to promoting and practicing respect – for all people. It’s time to end the spiral of violence.  And we all have to be part of the solution.

In Friendship,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

South-South Exchange: Peacemaking in South Africa & Honduras

Transcending Cultural & Geographic Boundaries

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, and in 2013, had the highest murder rate in the world. In 2011, as a response to extreme poverty and weak democratic institutions, an organization led by Hondurans began to grow. Known as the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), they were determined to eradicate the perpetual fear that plagued their daily lives.

Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action Chencho Alas recognized the power of this growing movement and its potential to build democracy within Honduras. As an established community leader and nonviolent activist, Chencho was selected by FNRP to present his own peacebuilding techniques and approaches to their organization.

Chencho knew that the newly formed FNRP would benefit from a unique opportunity: a Network Intervention. He sought assistance from fellow Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge who had intimate familiarity with nonviolent resistance, reconciliation and peacebuilding. Chencho knew that Nozizwe’s personal experience and struggle as a Quaker leader during South African apartheid would ignite hope for Hondurans. Together, they worked to develop a plan for a mutual partnership.

In 2011 and 2013, Chencho and Nozizwe conducted trainings and facilitated a South-South exchange of knowledge and capacity building for peaceful reconciliation. In 2011, they led training sessions with over 50 Honduran leaders that focused on methods of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance. In 2013, Chencho and Juan Barahona, the leader of the FNRP coalition, traveled to visit Nozizwe and other South African leaders. Chencho and Juan participated in meetings throughout South Africa to learn about the South African process and model of reconciliation. Additionally, workshops included strategy sessions for participatory planning and network building.  Chencho absorbed this knowledge with the intention of adapting and replicating their peacebuilding models in Honduras. He understood the potential for integrating non-violent resistance along with the South African reconciliation process.

Nozizwe’s experience with post-conflict peacebuilding in South Africa proved powerful and inspiring for grassroots activists during the intervention in Honduras. Her struggle to overcome prejudice and her imprisonment in South Africa was a powerful example for Hondurans, helping to ignite their hope and dedication towards their own peacebuilding initiatives.

During the intervention in Honduras, Chencho presented his own approach to peacemaking that focuses on positive assessment of assets and abilities, rather than problems and needs. Nozizwe learned from this method and looks forward to incorporating this approach in South Africa.

Common challenges and situations faced by both Hondurans and South Africans helped Chencho and Nozizwe to quickly understand how South-South partnerships promote the exchange of best practices in ways that combat entrenched challenges including poverty and violence.

Following the successful interventions, the FNRP used tools enhanced by both Chencho and Nozizwe to form the LIBRE political party in Honduras. During the November 2013 elections, the LIBRE party held early leads in the polls and displayed great progress in becoming a political party that unifies Honduran society.

Network Interventions highlight the importance of the collaborative work in ways that propel substantive peacebuilding and information sharing within the Network. The South-South exchange initiated by Chencho and Nozizwe illuminates the importance of the positive relationships built through the Network and its power to transcend cultural and physical geographic boundaries.

Click here to download the complete Honduras and South Africa Interventions report.

We Are All Human Beings

Despite the rockets and the airstrikes wreaking havoc in Israel and Gaza, Peacemaker in Action Yehezkel Landau’s organization Open House held its annual Summer Peace Camp. Seventy Arab and Jewish children gathered at the peace education center in Ramle, Israel did what all children should do during the summer – they had fun together.

While the latest war in Gaza further complicates hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, a twelve-year-old camper relays her belief that there can one day be peace – by reminding us of what we too often forget in times of conflict:

“We are all human beings.”

To read more about this lesson in perseverance, click here for Open House’s July 2014 newsletter, Summer Peace Camp in the Midst of War.

Summer Peace Camp in the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom/Wahat as-Salaam.

Summer Peace Camp in the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom/Wahat as-Salaam.

July 15: A day of prayer and reflection to stop the violence and bloodshed

Before turning to the subject of this blog – the escalation of violence involving Israelis and Palestinians – I am painfully reminded that destructive and hate fueled violence is occurring in far too many places across our globe. So even as I focus on that flashpoint of the Middle East, I believe that we must simultaneously remember that every person experiencing war and violence is one of us. A human who is suffering. And a person who comes from a family and a community.

That said, I want to share something we recently learned, in case it resonates with you. There is a small Muslim/Jewish movement from Israel/Palestine that is calling on people to dedicate the Jewish fast day of 17 Tamuz (July 15), which coincides this year with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, as a day of prayer and reflection, focusing on stopping the horrible violence and bloodshed that is currently taking place in that land.

Our former colleague and friend, Rabbi Jonah Geffen, who shared this information with us said, “I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to gather our Muslim/Jewish/Christian sisters and brothers in prayer and reflection. Not politics. Simply focusing on peace through a joint day without food.”

We agree, but believe that this is a moment that people of all beliefs and none can share. A day of fasting, a day of committing ourselves to real solutions and an end to violence.

Sincerely,

Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO

P.S. If you are interested in taking part in the day, here is the the invitation that Rabbi Geffen found on Facebook:

ימי הצום בלוח העברי והמוסלמי מתאחדיםהזדמנות לעצור הכולבביתבעבודהבקהילה
להתכנס אל מול הדםהנקם והאימה למקום אחרלחשבון נפשללקיחת אחריותלתיקון
למפגש עם העצמי ועם האחרלשתוק ביחד ולדבר,
לבחור מחדש בחיים
מדובר ביוזמה משותפת של יהודים וערבים שתתקיים ב– 15 ביולייום שלישי הבאלשביתת רעב משותפת בת יום,כנגד האלימותבשעות אחהצ יתקיימו אירועים משותפים ברחבי הארץשל יהודים וערביםחילונים ודתיים,פלסטינים וישראליםשל דיבורלימוד ותפילהובסופם עם צאת הכוכבים יתקיים “איפטאר“- שבירת צום משותפת.
מוזמנים:
לשתףלצוםלקחת זמן לחשבון נפש וליזום אירוע ‘לבחור בחיים‘ באזור מגוריכם
שנזכה לתקן!

ايام الصيام حسب التواريخ الاسلامية والعبرية تلتقي.
فرصة لايقاف كل شيئفي البيتفي العملفي المجتمعللاتحاد معا ضد سفك الدماءضد الانتقام وضد الخوف والانتقال لمحاسبةالنفسلتحمل المسؤوليةلللتغيير والاصلاحللاجتماع مع النفس ومع الغيرللتكلم معا وللصمت معالاختيار الحياة من جديد.
الموضوع هو مشروع لقاء مشترك للعرب واليهود بتاريخ ١٥/٧ يوم الثلاثاء المقبللاضراب مشترك عن الطعام ليوم واحد ضد العنف.وفي ساعات ما بعد الظهيرة ستقام لقاءات مشتركه في انحاء البلادعرب ويهودعلمانيون ومتدينونفلسطينيين واسرائيليينللحوار,للتعلم وللصلاهوفي النهايه مع ساعات المغرب يكون افطار جماعي لكسر الصيام.
مدعوون بشكل شخصي.
الرجاء النشر.
صيام وحساب للنفس ومشروع مشترك “نختار الحياة” في مناطق سكنكم.

Days of fasting in the Jewish and Muslim calendar come together.
An opportunity to pause. At home. At work. In the community.
To come together in the face of blood, revenge and fear,
to a place of looking inwards, taking responsibility, and making a difference.
To meeting myself and the other, to be still and to talk to one another.
Another chance to choose life.
A joint Arab and Jewish initiative that will take place on July 15th, next Tuesday, of a mutual hunger strike against violence. All over the country joint events will take place in the afternoon, of Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, Israelis and Palestinians, to talk, learn and pray. At the end of the events, when the stars come out, an Iftar will take place, a mutual breaking of the fast.
We invite you to share, to fast, to look inwards and to initiate a “Choosing Life” event where you live.
May we make a difference!

 

“The Vicar of Baghdad”: Peacebuilding in Iraq’s Red Zone

On Thursday, July 3rd, Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White spoke with fellow Peacemakers in Action during a monthly call. When asked about his safety, White’s voice reverberated through the technological static: “Peacemaking is not about making peace in comfortable, safe places.”

That is how Rev. Canon Andrew White lives his life: beyond comfort zones and within the lawless and chaotic Red Zone in Central Baghdad, Iraq.

Lovingly dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Andrew is a steadfast leader in Baghdad not only for his church, Saint George’s Episcopal Anglican Church, but also as head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, a relief and reconciliation program that supports the masses (Christians and Muslims alike) and coordinates reconciliatory efforts between Sunni and Shia leaders.

Andrew’s daily efforts, logistical challenges and reality are documented in “The Vicar of Baghdad”, a new three-part Vice Media special. Vice Media, known for being outspoken and bold in their news coverage, intimately portrays Andrew’s work on the ground. The candid look into Andrew’s daily life begins in a car; the camera shakes while lights flash red down a dimly lit street. From the passenger seat, Andrew narrates the situation, “It’s dangerous just sitting here.” These words color his actions, whether he is aware of it or not. He persists with his mission, guided by his peacebuilding practice and faith. Despite multiple kidnappings and death threats he does not sit still. Andrew is constantly on the move, visiting his parishioners and standing in solidarity with those in Iraq.

The Vicar of Baghdad has been filmed in 12-17 minute long installments. Each video is a window into the poverty, marginalization and hardships experienced in Iraq. With a backdrop of dry wit and humor, Andrew’s innate exuberance and the joy of his people are not fully dampened by their situations. The harsh environment does not mar his faithfulness, as he calmly proclaims, “My faith is everything.”

In recent days, the militant group the Islamic State, or IS, formerly called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), continues to encroach upon Baghdad. According to Andrew, the country’s infrastructure is failing and people are dying daily. Iraq’s problems deepen with their presence and ongoing sectarian violence. Currently, Andrew and his people are surrounded by constant gunfights and dwindling outside communication. Unwavering, he continues to fight for peace and solidarity in Iraq.

Vice Media – The Vicar of Baghdad      

Part 1:

 

Part 2:

Part 3: