On 16th February 2011, the MEPEACE board met in Jaffa to:
Update: review on 2010 and look ahead to 2011
Approve: the non-profit's statements, activities and progress
Brainstorm: together look ahead to our future: 3-5 years
Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments below.
Here is the heart of our brainstorming (the document is attached here as well):
Eyal: Where do we want to see the Middle East 5 yrs from now? And where do we want to see MEPEACE 3-5 yrs from now?
David: My dream for MEPEACE – close down! No need for us!
Gershon: Maybe not. In 5 years will use MEPEACE to discuss culture, music….instead of politics.
My dream for the Middle East? A strong, stable, democratic Palestine next to a much more democratic Israel.
Vicki: Inspired by this month’s events, I dream of people making change, taking change into their own hands. MEPEACE can be a part of this, as Facebook has been integral to organising revolutions
Dalya: Take a train from Tel Aviv to Baghdad!
Freeman: Complete normalization with all the Arab states and Israel. End to military conscription. Technology is key. Through MEPEACE I met my first Arab and Palestinian friends, which wouldn’t have happened only online. Translation of literature between Arab and Israel states.
Bayan: Egypt shows we can free ourselves. It allows us to dream of the possibility. MEPEACE needs more exposure in Israel.
Eyal: An Israeli ambassador in all Arab countries. In the Knesset a clear voice that represents our dreams that sometimes we are afraid to voice. A clear Israeli voice. Israel officially taking responsibility for its history and its impact on Arab citizens and Palestinians. MEPEACE as a competitor for Facebook (Gershon – should be the 2nd page people open in the morning!) 5 yrs from now, MEPEACE as an interconnected world.
Chaya: Every end is a beginning. Challenge once the revolutionary force fades to find an incentive to coming together post conflict. MEPEACE may be even more relevant then, needs to be as inclusive as possible.
Eyal: Movement. We want to mobilize a movement to win hearts and minds of people. How can we play a role in helping a movement, a new party develop??
Gershon: Numbers count! Need to get more people on the site, if we want to make a movement. Interconnectivity. To get more people involved, needs to be linked to other msn, facebook etc. eg. Share articles from newspaper – get option to share on MEPEACE.
Chaya: you mentioned a movement, are we political?
Eyal: we are not political, right, left, etc. but need to think of where we are going.
David: Unique about MEPEACE – a web presence. MEPEACE exists primarily through the website, which is a shame, because websites are old. Need presence on youtube, facebook and twitter. All MEPEACE events should be facebook events. Recently, orgs don’t even need their own website.
Mossi: Average Israeli spends 1 hour on the internet daily – 14 mins facebook, 7 mins ynet…. How long on MEPEACE?!
Eyal: For the purpose of…? So we have a stronger media presence. What then? Movement – what does that mean to you? Does MEPEACE have a role in creating a new movement?
Vicki: The question is do we want to remain open as platform for inclusive discussion, or head in a direction that we decide?
Eyal: two goals: empower individuals and orgs and mobilize. Do you want to see us support a movement? Do you want to see us out on the street supporting hasmol haleumi?
Dalya: lots of people are out supporting. MEPEACE should be a place for any peace-promoting agenda. Trying to create a movement out of MEPEACE doesn’t match.
Gershon: During the Egypt uprising, where did we get info? Not on MEPEACE. Many people go tinfo via Facebook pages – dynamic source of dialogue and information.
Lemuel: About turning into a political movement. If you build a community where people can share their own ideas, and then impose own agenda.... best for MEPEACE to promote the importance of political involvement, lobbying, how to influence… Left parties are disappearing. MEPEACE’s role can be to advise, encourage, inform about the options…
Gershon: MEPEACE is not just Israeli and cannot support an Israeli political party.
Chaya: Pluses of the online community – value to anonymity. Plenty of other orgs to be active in the street, open to ideas without commitment. When Eyal gives interviews – personal opinion or representing MEPEACE?? Be careful about how representing MEPEACE. General message - get politically involved.
Eyal: diversity, encouragement, anonymity – help people get out in the streets, but don’t tell them where to go.
David: We are a platform. Like Google, youtube… The only things we don’t do is racism, pornography, incitement. No political line.
Lemuel: More advertisement for political activism.
Mossi: If we want to compete with facebook – it is a tool. No agenda. Facebook was the main tool used in Egypt. This is MEPEACE’s contribution to the Israeli-palestinian conflict, enable people to communicate and organize. Don’t need to have a line.
Freeman: great tool, it’s happening right now, meeting, exchanging ideas. MEPEACE is more real than facebook, greater trust, part of a community.
Chaya: what if MEPEACE was expanded not just to peace issues, food, culture, music…? Share recipes, cultural attractions. To learn about each other in real life, not just politics. Upload videoblogs…
David: Social tourism, peace tourism… ‘trips to the other side’
Dalya: needs to be more organized
Chaya: Could be organized by professions?
David: there were groups of professionals meeting before the intifada, psychologists, lawyers, accountants etc…
Eyal: transparency is very important, so this conversation will be put up on the site for all to see. These ideas are what generate practical action. Now I want to ask you for practical actions?
Bayan: Does MEPEACE has to be completely apolitical? Maybe there should be a line, a goal.
Dalya: MEPEACE is about the rules of engagement, the process, not the outcome.
Eyal: My idea is to take some sort of political stand. We have an asset, energy we can direct in a certain direction. We may be able to contribute, to support new movements,
Vicki: MEPEACE can be open and should have input from political events, and organizations/ parties but should be open to all of them.
"It's a place for dialogue."
Exactly. You know, my view is that a social network (both the large ones, such as Facebook, and smaller ones, such as mepeace and other ning networks) has the job to bring people together. That's the main job. Members read fellow members' profiles and realize there's someone who might be worth talking to, worth cooperating, worth contacting.
Clara, above, writes, that peace can only be achieved through the "act". True. But I don't see it as our aim to organize protest marches in Tel Aviv or gatherings in front of the Knesset. As I said above, we have more than 4000 members. Not only that not all of us are actually able to attend/co-organize such "acts", but, too, our views differ. Many, for example, support a two-state solution (myself included). Others, however, prefer a federation or a one-state solution. And so on.
I don't know if anybody wants mepeace to be a small club of on-the-ground activists who do the actions while the thousands of others, from all continents and almost all countries of this world, are by-standers. In this case we would actually have two movements. One that 'acts' and another that 'talks'. Can anyone tell me how to combine these two movements? I don't want two mepeace's.
Our presence can trigger action - through bringing people together, through regularly offering organized talks, through helping people to find resources they need for professional research or just for obtaining clear and balanced information on the conflict (to build a professional 'Resources' section is one of our great aims for the future) - and, most crucially, through tearing down walls between people. It's awesome to see that sometimes people from five continents attend our events. This shows that the world is interested in Middle East peace, that there are people from all over the world who crave for mutual understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, people that can help Israelis and Palestinians to find a 'common language'.
Finally, I want to say that mepeace.org is primarily what its members - its peacemakers - make of it. Any kind of 'constitution' for mepeace would be a top-down affair. 5-10 people max. would construct it, and 4000 others would need to accept it - or leave for good. I guess we're all against injustice. Otherwise we wouldn't be pro-peace. We all have some constitution for a future Middle East, some peace plan, some big design in mind. We are all small Netanyahu's, Obama's and Abbas's, aren't we? Sometimes we are too shy to express our visions, sometimes it takes courage to say something that Obama or other politicians haven't said before. Here, all are welcome to openly express and share their views of how to make peace. All are encouraged to add that 'X', that idea, that has not yet been considered in the politicians' designs for a future Middle East.
If the leading members or the Board of mepeace now set the standards - via a constitution - for how all of us should envisage peace, wouldn't we risk to lose that potential of triggering each member to openly share his or her vision?
I agree with your point of "our presence triggers action." That's exactly what it does. Through bringing people together MEPEACE is undoubtedly spawning a multitude of great ideas (not to mention personal relationships) which have the potential to be implemented through political orgs, not-for-profits and other ngo's, start-ups, etc.
Let's challenge the realm of the possible, together.
Oliver, I understand your perspective. Some will come here to learn, share and stay. Others will take the sustenance they need to move on towards whatever goal they have set for themselves - and it may just be peace, rather than peace in the Middle East.
So I accept your need to be apolitical.
OK, thanks for letting me know your position, Oliver. That said, I'm not sure that I can add any value as a Brit who's seen the situation first hand in Bethlehem. I will let my second book do the talking for me, I think!
Every blessing in your work though
For me, getting mepeace expand as a dialogue group might not work very well for Palestinians or Israelis.
I think there would be limited participation. People will join for mostly psychological reasons. They won't expect something concrete and will just go back to their Israeli peace groups or their Palestinian lives. Non-Palestinians and non-Israelis don't have the same at stake in a direct fashion. What will dialogue truly accomplish for Palestinians or Israelis in terms of a solution? Not much, I think.
Personally, people may wonder what mepeace thinks about issues such as two states, the status of East Jerusalem, and settlements. Can it be a movement without discussing those issues?
It is somewhat successful as a dialogue group where people get to discuss and learn about each other.
For example, I became friends with Linda, got to know people like Rachel somewhat, people challenge each other with their ideas. You will risk losing some people, but if you want to become a movement is it possible while ignoring the politics that exist? What will mepeace do that Gush Shalom doesn't? Why does mepeace need to be a movement? The members in many cases seem satisfied with the dialogue because they get some positive benefit, but can mepeace as it stands inspire any major change? Not really since people don't know what mepeace is....People in many cases won't trust it. They won't know what it is. Many people like it for being a place where you can discuss ideas and learn about each other.
It appears someone decided to mention me by name, though I didn't mention them here by name and mentioned the settlements. I can understand in this world and in every nation and every style government people have different opinions, and it has to do with what they know and see and what they choose to see.
Let's take the point that everything will fall into place when there is a 100% desire for happiness for Palestinians and Israelis. This is not realistic. If my name is Shlomo and I live in a settlement and it would make me happy if someone gives me and my friends a large part of Nablus and expand the settlements there, it would make me happy, but economically harm Palestinians. If certain Palestinians would be happy that all Jews originally from Poland and Germany return so his relatives who were pushed out into Jenin can return would that make those Jews happy? Definitely not, and it's not practical. My point is we have to look at what can work in the long-run for both Palestinians and Israelis in terms of a viable state. I mean that as Israelis and Palestinians, not necessarily mepeace. Gush Shalom has taken a position on settlements and the use of lethal force on Palestinians and what not. Mepeace does not need to take any position.
I think it's hard to say that one simply needs to have a lot of dialogue and the Palestinians sand Israelis will simply solve their problems. I don't think it works that way. US segregation ended only after President Eisenhower decided it was time to end it so black children could go to school and be equal. Apartheid did not simply end because the whites wanted to be nice. Hamas would not have ended throwing rockets if they didn't realize it wasn't counterproductive, and I blame Hamas for making it easier for Israelis to disengage from them because even Israelis who sympathized with Palestinians changed their minds due to their actions. I think the political context does effect how our emotions are shaped and feel.
Here is how Palestinians view the settlements. If a person from Nablus who is an Arab wants to buy land in Tel Aviv. He is not allowed to do so. If he wants to use members of a Palestinian militia to seize land in West Jerusalem from a Jewish family he is not allowed to do so. In many cases, even if we forget about UN law, Palestinians who bought land under British, Ottoman, and Jordanian law have their lands seized. Where is the justice in it? I don't see it. It would be one thing if Israel doesn't mind if Arab armies or militias can do the same thing or people can buy land in the same way. Israelis would be outraged. Never mind that the UN has stated that building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is not conducive to promoting peace and violates international law. Not one Palestinian supports them because it entails an economic, psychological, and national loss. It makes them miserable. If Arabs cannot buy or seize land in Tel Aviv in the name of whatever excuse, and if we are all human beings then why is okay? I understand some people think settlements are okay. In 1966 some white people thought it was okay to not let black men marry white women they loved, and people realized how certain laws were hurting people who happened to be black. Well, we are saying many laws are hurting our people and many actions. It was cultural. 60% of American Jews oppose settlements and 44% of Israelis do.
I am only expressing my opinion on this here in a direct fashion because it was brought up. I am not saying mepeace should have any political position. It is fine as a dialogue site and what not. I was just only saying that for it to become a movement, can it truly do so without taking any kind of position on something. I am not saying necessarily on settlements though it would be hard not to, and that doesn't mean all settlements should be dismantled or should leave.
I am all for Jewish Palestinians living with other Palestinians. The feeling of Palestinians is found in the words of Mahmoud Darwish when he says where will we go after the last sky, about the wish for Palestinians to be swallowed by the Earth like pieces of wheat. There is a certain desperation due to the actions of the occupation, and Israelis don't feel it because they are part of the hammer, we are the nail, unfortunately. I say this in all warmth and kindness, but the suffering and wounds are real. I wish Palestine were huge and the lands were all huge and we could have a nice confederation and one bi-national state. However, since there is no desire for bi-nationalism, carving up the West Bank is a recipe for warfare in the future which I want to avoid for the sake of all. And, no, I don't see taking land from people who have land deeds from having bought them from Jordan or Tukey taken anything but theft. It would be like me saying that anyone who bought land during the German Empire 200 years ago, it's irrelevant and the German state can seize it since the empire doesn't exist.
Keep it as a dialogue group or add certain principals or stands. It depends on what you seek to do. Only you can answer that.I think I express the feeling of a majority of Palestinians. And if one does not believe me, read the words of our late, beloved, departed national poet Mahmoud Darwish, and you can see how we feel about it.
I appreciate the hard work of Oliver, Linda, Clara, Tanya, Cigdem, Waleed, and Moad, and I appreciate that they and others like Inbal has made major efforts to dialogue with others.13 06 2010
The Earth Is Closing on Us
- Mahmoud Darwish, Translation by Abdullah al-Udhari
The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and
we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The earth is squeezing us. I wish we were its wheat so we could die
and live again. I wish the earth was our mother
So she’d be kind to us. I wish we were pictures on the rocks for our dreams to carry As mirrors. We saw the faces of those to be killed by the last of us in the last defense of the soul.
We cried over their children’s feast. We saw the faces of those who’ll
throw our children Out of the windows of the last space. Our star will hang up in mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds fly after the last sky? Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air? We will write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the head of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage. Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree.
Inbal, it's simple. My father owns land in Nablus. Settlements built next to him. He can't go there anymore. If Palestinians cannot buy land in Tel Aviv or Haifa or take lands of your friends by force as can be done to us, it is racism to me. You want my family to say thank you when my father has his land grabbed like all the others? We spent money on that land. Most Palestinians are like me and more. We want our freedom. Go and ask every Palestinian about settlements and what they think about the expanding of them. You will get the same answer. If it means there is no chance for peace. Yes, I am Palestinian.I've asked my Italian friends how they would feel in the same situation. They gave the answer and were not as nice in their response. As evidenced at the UN, it is not about Palestinians, the majority feel the same and voted that way including the European Union.
Yes, I can step in your shoes, but it would be like asking me to be a black man stepping in the shoes of a white person 1960 defending why, I, as a black man, should not be able to vote or why I shouldn't be able to a white woman. I can only see racism in the fact that Palestinians cannot buy land in Israel proper or seize land, but it's expected of Palestinians. You said you support the settlements. It's clear that entails ethnic supremacy of one group. We are not equal. You brought me up by name, and I didn't bring you up by name. You won't find Palestinians really who disagree with my opinion and most American Jews even agree with it.You could ask the 60% of American Jews to walk in your shoes, as well. Where does moral accountability come into play? I am not judging you as nice or not nice or good or bad. I am explaining the harm Palestinians and others feel regarding settlements, house demolitions, and things like expelling Christians and Muslims from East Jerusalem. We are being pushed and pushed. I am sure you are a great and sweet person in many ways. I am not quarreling with that.
In my family we have lost a lot of land, and we may lose some more. We paid money for those, and it's on occupied land. I don't know any Palestinian who thinks that's not a big deal. Find them.
I did not mention you by name, and I am not looking to quarrel. I am not saying mepeace should be a dialogue group or having a political stance, though I admire the stances of Gush Shalom. I only have said for it to be a movement it may be asked what is its positions on certain issues. If settlements means making Palestinian families homeless, hurts our economy, promotes conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, violates human rights, and international law, and means my family may lose more land then they have already lost, of course, I wouldn't support it. You wouldn't either. You have a right to your opinion. If it's your opinion, it's yours. You can keep to it as you wish.
Here is an article from 1995 showing you the views of Palestinians at that time regarding settlements. The overwhelming majority, then, didn't want to negotiate with an expansion of settlements. We have Jewish friends, Israeli friends, but we also have pride and human rights. I think I've said enough on the manner and must respect your opinion is yours. I didn't come to name you or quarrel with you.
Palestinian optimism vanishes almost totally, however, when asked whether, if the Israelis continue expanding settlements, the negotiations should continue. An overwhelming 81.3 percent of respondents rejected continuing negotiations in the context of expanding settlements. This is the highest opposition to continuing negotiations recorded since immediately after the Hebron massacre in February 1994.
Inbal, I am not so confident you really do see things from Basil's perspective since you are still protesting he fails to see your view.
Everything is interconnected, and until you see the connecting bridge, you have nothing but your own perspective.
Is there something in particular that you would like me to appreciate?
My family has a connection to Jerusalem, and I am familiar with much of the early history of Zionism. I am Christian by culture, but I believe all religions are equal in what they have to offer spiritually.