Friends, please find below the official and full transcript of our first workshop in the three-part series on 'Freedom and Peace'. Thanks to all who participated!
Event link: http://mepeace.org/events/mepeace-chat-january-8
Participants: Linda Abed (from Gaza), Mutasem Mafarjeh (from West Bank), Len Traubman (from the US), Sergio Storch (from Brazil), Eyal Raviv (from Israel), Waleed Hammad (from West Bank, currently residing in India)
Moderator: Oliver Haack (from Germany)
NOTE: ME refers to Oliver Haack
Hello everybody! Welcome to tonight's MEPEACE Chat Workshop, the first in 2012, and the first in a new three-part series on the topic 'FREEDOM AND PEACE'.
Good evening Oliver
Sergio, Neri, Eyal, Waleed, are you all with me?
Yes. Hi All ;)
Welcome Libby & Len!
Sergio, are you here, too?
Hi Eyal and Oliver
Well, Libby&Len, Sergio, I do hope you see what I write :) We have a complex topic, so we gonna make use of the 90 available minutes.. Let's start:
Freedom is a highly controversial and ambiguous concept. While we all might agree that there cannot be lasting peace, not even serious efforts at conflict mitigation, without a certain notion of freedom, we may at the same have very different notions of what freedom actually is,....
what it is supposed to entail. Besides that, we can distinguish between several different kinds of freedom. There is personal freedom, economic freedom and political freedom, for instance....
And there is positive and negative freedom (a distinction - conceptualized by the political thinker Isiah Berlin - we're also going to talk about in the workshop). We might have a bias towards a specific kind of freedom, ...
and this bias might narrow our view on the other available and desirable 'freedoms'....
good 2012 for all!!!
This Chat Workshop will start with a 'blank page'. That means that we do not pretend to know what freedom is, we do not pretend to really know what it means for us and our fellow human beings, and we have no common idea why and how it could be important for conflict mitigation and management, ...
and finally peace. Our goal is to find a definition we all can live with, even if that may mean that each of us has to make some kind of compromise, for the sake of accomplishing a basis for mutual understanding and co-existence...
The main objective of this three-workshop series is to figure out a kind of 'freedom' that is of advantage to all citizens instead of working for the benefit of only one group in society, or a small privileged elite...
Let's learn from each other, let's be teachers and students at the same time, and hopefully, in the end, find a sort of consensus on a working definition of freedom in relation to conflict mitigation.
Everybody take your time to read through above introduction...
If you have any questions beforehand, raise your hand :)
....and, welcome Sergio and Libby&Len!
Good 2012 to you, too, Sergio!
Yes, Len .. go ahead
i´ve read it. Great text. I´d like to highlight: "how it could be important for conflict mitigation and management, ... and finally peace." Great context.
Thanks, Sergio. I'm looking forward to tackle this concept
Len, feel free to ask
forgot the rules. If i want to talk, what´s the convention?
Do you imagine it's best to begin personally, with ourselves, and with how we each experience and use freedoms? How we spend our time and our money, being very, very concrete?
no convention yet... I will introduce the rules in a sec :)
Len, I will announce the first leading question in a min...
...and you'll see, it's a very very general one...
but, first, the rules as usual
you're all quite experienced with our rules, so...
let's just repeat that it's important to 'raise your hand'...
and don't forget to add (...) if you're not finished w your statement
and put (.) when you're done, or just write 'Done'
Thanks for your attention!
This is our first leading question for tonight:
What is freedom?
Guys, what is freedom? What does it mean to you? What do you make of it?
And, Len, personal answers appreciated :)
I Skype with people in Gaza.....
With them, and even in the West Bank, they're afraid to be too vocal or visible. . . .
then electricity goes OFF beginning at 6:00 AM in the morning...
so I feel sooooooooooo free to be myself, seek high ideals, and communicate without fear. . .
and thus am terribly grateful for true freedom. (end)
Freedom means when you are able to do, say and move without control or observation from others ..
As I reside in Delhi .. I feel that I am free to share our events online although my friends , Palestinian peacemakers, can't do the same ..
due to the war on normalization
i understand then that the gazans and westbankers
have limitations on their freedom because of telecom infrastructure...
am i right?
or you mean something else?
I mean, generally, what is freedom?
No direct connection to the Middle East necessary
let's keep it general for the start
Len - after Sergio
Feedoom necessry to all peoplel
Linda, please read our rules above...if you want to communicate a statement, please 'raise your hand' before. Thanks
Sergio - Len
freedom is the ability one has to DO whatever he or she needs for his life
and to move around
Len - Linda
With Gazans and West Bank citizens, to answer your question, it is not an Internet technology problem. . .
but fear. . .
of one's own people and one's own governing political figures and police. . .
and also, with Jewish and Palestinian Israelis is fear of one's own people. This is why I feel so much gratitude for freedom to express and create whatever I can imagine. (done)
Linda - Sergio
i agree wtth freedom and peace to much nessery to us /,, we in gaza really need peace and to live in freedom /,,,
life without freedom like deth
Sergio, let me say something before you can go on, ok?
The intellectual Isaiah Berlin distinguished between positive and negative freedom...
Your example, Sergio ("freedom is the ability one has to DO whatever he or she needs for his life and to move around "....
is a great example of positive freedom...meaning, to use one's own agency...
while Len highlighted negative freedom ("fear. . . of one's own people and one's own governing political figures and police. . . ")...
meaning that Gazans, in Len's words, would need less political constraints...
Negative freedom means living without constraints from other parties (state, family,...)
Thanks for your attention.
Sergio, pls go ahead
so palestinian freedom doesn´t depend only on the suppresion of the blockade and the occupation, rather especially on the change they ´d need to effect in their own society
Let me ask:
What is more important for you: positive or negative freedom? What is easier to achieve?
Positive freedom is more important to me... (I prefer anything positive)...
and I think positive freedom is also easier to achieve.
Would be glad to hear what Sergio and others think.
am i right in reminding the teachings of rabbis who said...
that it was easier to take the people from slavery in egypt...
than in taking away egypt from within our soul
How would you interpret that saying, Sergio?
excuse me: why does the screen disappear suddenly so often requiring to look for it again
I'm not familiar w that problem, sorry.
Sergio , try to pop the screen out
i think the second is related to negative freedom
it will be easier for you
and how to pop out? brrrr
there is a black line "Main Room" .. look at the two small squares and click on them
don´t see these small squares
Let's slowly move on to the second leading question:
Why might it be difficult to find a common definition of what freedom is supposed to be?
(Sergio, simply open the Chat from the Menu on the top part of the mepeace homepage. Then you'll have a second window, just for the chat)
good, now it´s ok, tks
The floor is open for comments on our second question
Vaclav Havel planned and wrote about a free future while he was in prison, so. . .
none of us needs to "wait" to begin planning -- alone and together -- what our future looks like. (end)
i am still wrestling with berlin´s notion of negative freedom
Sergio - Oliver
and i am thinking that what libby/len said pose challenges even to a person who isn´t free
so that he can seek for his own freedom, and achieve it
Sergio - Oliver - Linda
it´s a matter of individual responsibility...
toward all its social environment, so that he can achieve the freedom that is possible...
Because ther is of the freedom of many kinds
that makes me remind of a reading 40 years ago, in Erich Fromm, a book called Fear of Freedom...
Thanks. Linda, pls give me some time to comment, ok?
Len, you mentioned Havel...
I know he wrote and spoke about freedom...
Let's give Linda some space here.
but it was him who was one of the strongest supporters of US foreign policy during the Bush era...
so, there ARE problems w defining freedom.
Because of the freedom of many kinds, Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of movement
pls go ahead
Linda, could you elaborate on this? What 'kind' of freedom is the most important for you?
You live in Gaza, right?
would you agree with what Len said above? Do you have fear?
Linda - Sergio
Linda, may i ask you a question?
what if ...
yes or no? to what are you referring, Linda?
Sergio, wait a sec, please
iam not afrad
Sergio, go ahead, please
iam very happy to be with you
if you shared your feeling of lack of freedom with friends in gaza, gradually, do yu think you might together be empowered to get more freedom?
...and we feel honored you're with us, Linda
say, three or four of you try to get with our help, for example, the possibility of traveling to visit friends in the west bank
would it be imaginable that you might accomplish that?...
one more example, i remind the situation this year of israeli women smuggling palestinians to take bath in the sea in telaviv
yes of couse
give her sometime .. I translate the question to her
that worked out in spite of israeli government...
it´s a civil disobedience strategy, which is nonviolent and would get international support
one more thing
my tendency is to think on the concept and do something immediately to change that situation...
very good but we want achve freedon to all people
wat we do to change that situation in gaza
yes, linda, now let´s switch from the individual level to a group level and then to a societal level
in each of those levels the support of israelis and internationals can help you achieve it
and i think that here we can organize to start doing it in a piecemeal way, and growing...
rmh after Linda's answer
Linda - Waleed
really we in gaza not need eat , drink we want lettel freedom
Thanks for your openness, Linda
Waleed - Sergio
not at all
to answer the second leading question
Sergio, it's Waleed's turn. Thanks.
Regardless the different views and definitions for “Freedom”, humanity makes us one with common needs and interests in life as individuals.. We do not like restriction, observation so this will unify our definition for “Freedom”
Thanks for this detailed reply.. Worth contemplating, indeed.
The floor is open!
Linda, may I suggest that you do some presential talk with these friends of mine? http://www.facebook.com/shahd.abusalama
Shahd and Fidaa
and then we might talk again
feel free to call me on facebook
i´ve developed good friends in gaza, who can help you figure out on how to fight for freedom using politics
with the help of israelis who don´t agree with israeli government
and with help of internationals
Who else sees any problems/issues with defining freedom? Would everyone agree on Waleed's definition?
Waleed's definition really builds on negative freedom...
Oliver - Eyal
in that he highlights that "we don't like restrictions"...
I guess that from the 'opportunity' of negative freedom, we can gradually move to a more positive notion of freedom.
ahlan Mutasem .. Welcome
I agree with Waleed's definition and with what you add, Oliver...
I would add a thought, though...
Defining Freedom is an oxymoron...
What I mean is that Freedom is difficult to define because it is supposed to be free...
Practically, we might have to let the word be free of definitions ;)
And this has a practical lesson for all of us in our conflict...
Great, Eyal. Philosophical. Something to think aboit, definitely.
because many times, all too often, humans are imprisoned...
Humans are born to be free, they should be free... and so I say we (Israel) should take a look at how it imprisons Palestinian prisoners.... (thousands)
and frankly, and I say this as an Israeli, Israel should look at how it imprisons Palestinians (even those outside of prison)...
Practically speaking, I think we all should value freedom and employ it in practice. This way we can all achieve freedom of thought, freedom of action, and freedom of peace.
We have 15 mins left, let's move on to our 3rd and final leading question: How does freedom relate to conflict mitigation and conflict management, and, in the end, peace?
Eyal just now already mentioned the occupation acting as the opposite of freedom...
probably others can build on that.
Mutasem, what would you say, regarding the 3rd leading question
The floor is open.
oliver im having a call
No problem... The floor is open to everybody.
I'm so upset. . .
about the ongoing. . .
ignorance and prolonging the idea of "normalization" . . . .
which STOPS freedom. . .
and STOPS creativity. . .
Len - Sergio
that can come only from engagement of free citizens.
i´ve just gotten the feeling - i may be wrong - that there is a lot that can be done right now in developing people-s empowerment to take their destiny in their hands, regardless of normalization or whatever...
my feeling as i listened to Linda is that an immediate challenge is on political education...
Sergio - Mutasem
I once sent a few links to a young engineering student in gaza, with the stories in youtube of gandhi, martin luther king etc...
he got very happy with that because he had never heard about these stories...
there´s no restriction for us to hold linda and so many people-s hands, and take them through very simple acts to defy their perception of lack of freedom...
very simple acts, that may result immediately in getting some of them to cross israel and visiting hebron, ramallah etc...
that´s within our reach...
then i think... excuse me libby and len, i appreciate and admire greatly your work and compassionate listening... but my feeling is that these peoples need subversion, civil disobedience, and adding up to nonviolent resistance
(Sergio, sorry, time is short. Thx for understanding)
with visibility globally to enlarge it throught the media
Mutasem - Len
I wanted to say that only negotiating with free people can lead to serious solution and so only free people can negotiate
go on, please, if you want
this is in response to your question about freedom
Len (final comment for this Chat Workshop)
free people will dare to ask for their freedom
Thanks, Mutasem. A great statement
Len (final comment)
I will never forget an image on our Skype screen from December. . .
(we want to start the first Meeting for Hope on time)
of Omar, with no electricity. . .
shining a light on his face, so we could see him . .
sitting in the dark in Gaza, with no electricity, with a battery powreed laptop computer and Skype. . .
so, so eager to communicate!!!!!
It borught tears to our eyes. . .
gratitude for the freedom to communicate. . .
and reminded us that we who have freedom to communicate MUST do that to remember that. . .
"an enemy is one whose story we have not hear." (end)
Friends, I'm so proud you all shared so freely and honestly. It was a great, productive workshop.
everybody is encouraged to delve deeper into the topic, by highlighting the topic in a discussion, by writing a blog about freedom...
and what it can mean for conflict mitigation, or just by chatting with fellow peacemakers about it. ..
Your action after each workshop is also a good basis for the respective upcoming workshops in the series, which will focus on 'freedom' in relation to conflict mitigation in the Middle East in particular...
Thanks for taking part tonight!
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Everybody is encouraged to delve deeper into the topic, by highlighting the topic in a discussion, by writing a blog about freedom and what it can mean for conflict mitigation, or just by chatting with fellow peacemakers about it. Your action after each workshop is also a good basis for the respective upcoming workshops in the series, which will focus on 'freedom' in relation to conflict mitigation in the Middle East in particular.