CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND PEACEBUILDING
EASTERN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY
Heartbreaking and Heartening Our Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) was launched in 1994-95 to fill a need for people trained to address intractable conflicts in creative, skillful, knowledgeable, non-violent ways. CJP’s founders – who had worked in war and conflict zones of Northern Ireland, Latin America, Africa and Asia – had no illusions that sowing the seeds of peace in deeply divided societies would be easy or even that results might be seen in one’s own lifetime. This long-term view has proven necessary for peacebuilders working in the Middle East.
This issue of Peacebuilder highlights a remarkable group of people who have come through training of some kind at CJP, usually through the master's degree in conflict transformation program or our annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). They are persisting against what often seems like impossible odds to plant seeds for peace in the Middle East. They hope to see significant improvement in their lifetimes but, if that hope is not realized, they all talk of persisting on behalf of future generations. In the words of Dr. David Brubaker, one of our professors, “Optimism is often not warranted in our work with intractable conflict, but hope is something that has to be sustained.” To date, 29 men and women from the Middle East – largely from Jordan, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine and Syria – have completed our master’s degree in conflict transformation. Nearly 200 people from the Middle East have taken SPI courses. Twenty-five of these alumni were interviewed and photographed by writer Andrew Jenner and photographer Jon Styer, sent to the region by EMU in February 2012. The reports Andrew and Jon brought back are both heartbreaking and heartening. As this issue was going to press, we learned that the new president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, attended EMU’s 2001 SPI. Mohamud ran for an election on a peace-centered platform of representing all the clans and classes in Somalia. We wish him success in this long-term endeavor. Our thoughts and prayers are with our alumni and partners in the Middle East, Northeast Africa and other regions where the important work of sowing seeds of peace continues on a daily basis, but must be carried by a vision that may take years to become reality. In Peace,
Lynn Roth Executive Director
CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND PEACEBUILDING
PEACEBUILDER is a supplement of Crossroads, a periodical published three times a year by Eastern Mennonite University, with the collaboration of the Development Office: Kirk L. Shisler, vice president for advancement; Phil Helmuth, executive director of development; Phoebe Kilby, CJP associate director of development.
EASTERN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY
MCC, CJP Enjoy Long Partnership ..............................................................................................2
Living in Limbo ..............................................................................................3
Keeping Hope Alive
Loren E. Swartzendruber President
Fred Kniss Provost
Lynn Roth CJP Executive Director
Bonnie Price Lofton Editor
Andrew Jenner Writer Jon Styer Designer/Photographer Elaine Zook Barge Barry Hart Valerie Helbert Janice Jenner Lindsay Martin Styer Janelle Myers-Benner Lynn Roth Carl Stauffer CJP Leadership Team Members For more information or address changes, contact: Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Eastern Mennonite University 1200 Park Road Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Artful Peace ............................................................................................10
Under Attack ............................................................................................14
Peace Journalists Needed
firstname.lastname@example.org 540-432-4000 www.emu.edu/cjp
Contents ÂŠ 2012 Eastern Mennonite University.
Investing in the Youth
Cover Husam Jubran, who earned his MA in conflict transformation in 2004 as a Fulbright Scholar. Photo by Jon Styer. See story on page 18.
Give Me Respite ............................................................................................24 The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) is rooted in the Mennonite peace tradition of Christianity. CJP prepares and supports individuals and institutions of diverse religious and philosophical backgrounds in the creation of a just and peaceful world. CJP is based at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and offers a master's-level degree and certificate, as well as non-degree training through its Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Donations to CJP are tax-deductible and support the program, the university that houses it, scholarships for peace and justice students, and other essentials. Visit www.emu.edu/cjp for more information.
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Lunch at the MCC office in Amman, Jordan.
Daryl Byler, '79 EMU grad, is MCC program co-director for Iran, Iraq and Jordan.
MCC, CJP Enjoy Long Partnership EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) has long enjoyed close ties to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). In fact, it exists in large part because of MCC. In the late ’80s MCC staff in its Akron offices began discussing the need to train more peacebuilders by combining practical experience in conflict resolution with the field’s growing academic side, preferably in a faith-based setting. Before long, John Paul Lederach (fresh from MCC work) and other members of the faculty and administration at EMU were exploring the possibility. In 1994, the vision became reality with the establishment of CJP – then known as the Conflict Transformation Program. Most of the program’s early faculty and staff were former MCC volunteers themselves. Now, about half of CJP’s full-time employees have extensive MCC experience, including executive director Lynn Roth, who spent 30 years with MCC, most recently as director of its U.S. East Coast program. As soon as CJP was up and running at the university, MCC began sending staff from its partner NGOs and church organizations in the Middle East to receive training at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). To date, MCC has sponsored 60
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representatives from its partner organizations in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel to attend SPI. “Sending trainees to SPI has been an integral part of MCC’s overall peacebuilding program in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” says Alain Epp Weaver, a long-time MCC volunteer in the Middle East now serving as its director of strategic planning and learning. A rehabilitation program at the East Jerusalem YMCA, as just one example, now uses conflict sensitivity principles in its work with Palestinians disabled by Israeli military attacks, after MCC sponsored its director to attend SPI, according to Epp Weaver. Several staffers from the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem have also received training at SPI, during which they were able to gain broader background in peacebuilding theory and skills, as well as share insight with others on their experience using traditional Palestinian reconciliation processes. And in Jordan, MCC has begun working with SPI-trained staff from a partner organization to sponsor peacebuilding workshops and training to Syrian refugees in Jordan, as well as to Jordanians living in communities that host a growing number of Syrians fleeing the war in their country. — AKJ Grateful acknowledgement: In researching and reporting this issue of Peacebuilder, Sarah Adams, Daryl Byler ('79 EMU grad), Rachelle Friesen and Ed Nyce ('86 EMU grad) – MCC staff in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and the U.S., respectively – were extremely helpful.
PHOTOS by Jon Styer
Based in Amman, Jordan, Raghda Quandor, MA '04, longs to work at building peace at the structural level.
LIVING IN LIMBO CJP Alumni in Middle East Resist Despair Peacebuilding is an inherently optimistic endeavor. While it can involve different means, there is a constant focus on an end – something different, something better, something yet to come. If you have no hope whatsoever, say many of the alumni interviewed for this issue of Peacebuilder, it would be impossible to do the kind of work they do.
PHOTO by Jon Styer
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Ruba Musleh, MA ’08, seeks to enhance work prospects for Palestinian youth in Ramallah.
And yet, the track record in the Middle East seems to amount to little more than a growing list of dashed hopes and disappointment, of failure, of eyes blinded for eyes, leaving everyone blind. As this issue goes to press in September 2012, the Syrian civil war is estimated to have killed nearly 25,000 people over the previous 18 months. The possibility that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, and that Israel or the United States will use violence to prevent it from doing so, continues to loom fearfully large in people’s minds. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has all but been abandoned, leaving intact deep, systemic forms of violence that traumatize both sides. 4
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For some, these realities inspire pessimism and frustration that threaten to snuff out hope. “You have to be hopeful,” says Fadlallah Hassouna (SPI ’10 & ’11), executive director of the Development for People and Nature Association, which works among youth in southern Lebanon. But he speaks slowly, shaking his head, then admits he can hardly believe his own words, that he is afraid of what tomorrow might bring. Conflict is never far from the surface in Lebanon, he says. It seems inevitable again, and so he hopes that perhaps his work will at least serve to minimize its impact, to mitigate its effects.
Structural Solutions Absent
In Jordan, Raghda Quandor, MA ’04, lists off the big challenges facing her country: hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees arriving over the past two decades, water insecurity, the status of the Palestinian people (more than 2 million of whom live in Jordan, according to most estimates). “We have a peace that’s not a peace,” says Quandor, who has worked for several international NGOs, and conceives of peacebuilding at the structural level. Large-scale change, though, seems impossible to enact. People feel powerless, they are more focused on day-to-day survival. It is a chaotic time, a hard time to think about and work toward a better future. If Jordan’s problems are a dripping faucet, she says, the solution so far has been to simply keep emptying the bucket. PHOTOS by Jon Styer
Based in Beirut, Sonia Nakad, SPI ’09, helps develop peacebuilding manuals tailored to specific cultures and situations.
Quandor wishes she could fix the faucet. “You need to create systems that resolve issues,” she says. “[But] I don’t think anybody’s interested. In some ways, I feel sad.” In Ramallah, Palestine, Ruba Musleh, MA ’08, says the seeming hopelessness of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has led her to focus her attention inward, toward her own people. “I don’t see anything changing in the near future, and that’s why I focus on working internally instead of with the other side. I think we need to build ourselves up first.” Twenty years ago, she continues, Palestinian youth were energetic and motivated. They believed they had the power to change and improve their lives. Today’s youth, having grown up during and after the violent Second Intifada, have lost that sense of confidence in themselves, she says. Sometimes, if she thinks too hard about these kinds of things, it becomes tempting to throw up her hands and leave peacebuilding for a better-paying job in the private sector. The thing that has kept her at her work – managing a project to enhance entrepreneurship and employability skills among Palestinian youth – has been a desire to some day look back and realize that she did, in some way, make a difference . . . a motivation fed by her experience at CJP.
Can’t Give Up
Like Musleh, several other alumni place themselves somewhere between total defeat and blind optimism, discouraged by what they see but unwilling to give up. “Nothing’s happening. We’re full gas on neutral,” says Maysa
Baransi (SPI ’09), the co-director of All For Peace, the first joint Israeli-Palestinian radio station, though she still holds onto abstract hope for the future. “As a Palestinian, I can’t give up. Eventually we will get there. I just hope it will be in my years.” Sonia Nakad (SPI ’09) says a curious paradox exists regarding public perception of “peacebuilding” in Lebanon, where she coordinates the Peacebuilding Academy with the Permanent Peace Movement. Many people, especially ones from older generations, write off the entire field as misguided idealism, a nice concept, perhaps, but not something with power to effect change. “Few people believe that this is the way to make things better,” Nakad says. At the same time, everyone is sick of constantly fighting, and there exists widespread agreement that violent conflict resolution benefits no one. One project of the Peacebuilding Academy, aimed in part at encouraging broader society to invest in alternatives to violence, is the publication of peacebuilding manuals for Middle Eastern audiences, written by Middle Eastern experts. Democracy looks different in different places, she continues. So should peacebuilding. “You cannot just move in a technique from outside,” Nakad says. “You have to take into consideration beliefs, culture and history.” What applies in one place does not necessarily apply elsewhere. And what applies in one situation does not necessarily apply in another, says Fadi el-Hajjar, MA ’06. A long-time peacebuildpeacebuilder ■ 5 emu.edu/cjp
ing practitioner in Lebanon now managing a “strengthening civil peace in Lebanon” project for the United Nations Development Programme, el-Hajjar has begun to think more and more on the importance of wisdom. After more than 15 years in the field, he has discovered that “the more you know, the more you know you need to know.”
In Search of Wisdom
From this position of humility, el-Hajjar looks to the past for guidance for the future. Peacebuilders in the region, he says, should learn from mistakes, adapt, replace absolutes with nuance. “If we balance things in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ there’s going to be simplified decision making,” el-Hajjar says. “But if you take into consideration the complexities, the long-term and other variables, you need some wisdom. Even if you are ‘right,’ I think sometimes we need wisdom.” For example: when a war is happening, the people caught in the middle don’t care so much about who is right and who is wrong. They want the shooting to stop. Later, everyone can talk about who bears responsibility for what and why. Wisdom is pragmatism, el-Hajjar says; wisdom avoids absolutes. He hesitates when asked about using violence to stop greater violence. It is a very difficult question. “When you think in terms of black and white, you think in terms of limitations,” el-Hajjar eventually responds. “When you think of these as the edges of the spectrum, then we have wide room to maneuver.”
Fadi el-Hajjar, MA ’06, avoids offering over-simplified answers.
Lessons From the Empty Tomb
Make no mistake, says Zougbi Zougbi (SPI ’98 & ’02; STAR ’03), these are incredibly difficult times, in Palestine, where he lives, and in the wider Middle East. All around him, he sees demoralization, degradation, social breakdown, injustices and spiritual poverty. Life in Palestine is life in a pressure cooker as a result of the illegal and unjustified occupation, he says. “Now, we are at our worst time,” he says. “Though you are tempted to be very angry in this situation, we don’t want to think of alternatives to nonviolence. We as Palestinians would like to deprive the Israeli government of an enemy.” At the Wi’am Center, a mediation and conflict resolution organization Zougbi founded and directs, he sees the symptoms every day. Husbands fight with their wives. Landlords quarrel with their tenants. Brothers dispute a few square meters of inherited family land, while thousands of dunams are confiscated to build housing for Israeli settlers. You can’t blame everything on the occupation, Zougbi says, but it is pervasive. It is everywhere, and it is inescapable. With a staff of 10, plus around 100 volunteers and interns from across the world, Wi’am offers programs in mediation, diplomacy and trauma-coping (“healing” can only begin after traumatic experiences end) to numerous different groups throughout Palestine. Its primary goals include confronting injustice, promoting dignity for and dialogue between all people, and spreading values of peace, justice, democracy and human rights. The organization was recognized in 2010 with World Vision’s Peace Prize. Despite the difficult and worsening conditions facing his work and his people, Zougbi looks to the future with a profound but 6
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Zougbi Zougbi, SPI ’98 & ’02, STAR ’03: "Hope keeps us sane."
cautious hope drawn from multiple sources. He finds hope in his faith, in which he sees transformative power. He says the stations of the cross parallel the Palestinian experience – terrible, cruel, oppressive – and yet, leading inevitably, some day, to the empty tomb that represents salvation and victory.
This Too Shall Pass
He also finds hope in his adult children, who turned down opportunities to live and work abroad, and came home to Bethlehem. And he finds hope in history. The Berlin Wall fell down. Apartheid came to an end in South Africa. Everything crumbles and returns to dust some day; though it defies imagination from the current vantage point, he is sure the occupation of Palestine, too, shall pass. “I believe that oppression will be defeated. Political, economic, social and spiritual oppression will be defeated. Hope is based on restorative justice that redresses injustices rather than avenging them. Hope is a form of nonviolent struggle. Hope keeps us sane and alive.” Zougbi says. — AKJ
Keeping Hope Alive Amid Entrenched Conflict Four CJP faculty members were asked to comment on the poor prognoses for their region offered by some CJP alumni working for peace in the Middle East. Barry Hart, PhD, professor of trauma, identity and conflict studies, pointed to recent neuroscience suggesting that humans have an innate desire to bond and empathize with one another. Framed in Barry Hart different terms, pervasive physical and structural violence is at odds with our own biology, and therefore will someday, somehow, come to an end. “You feel that in your bones,” says Hart. “That gives you not only hope, but strength and patience to go forward.” Though often used interchangeably, hope and optimism represent different concepts, says David Brubaker, PhD, associate professor of organizational studies. Optimism, or lack thereof, is short-term, pragmatic David Brubaker and based on specific facts. Hope, though, looks above and beyond specific facts; it is rooted in an idea often referenced by Martin Luther King, Jr. – that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The distinction is an important one for peacebuilders working in challenging environments that don’t justify an expectation that things are soon to get better. “Optimism is often not warranted in our work with intractable conflict, but hope is something that has to be sustained,” Brubaker says. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge the reality of despair and disillusionment that often accompanies peacebuilding work.
“We do the field of peacebuilding a disservice if we only cast our work within a utopian future vision,” says Carl Stauffer, PhD, assistant professor of development and justice studies. Carl Stauffer There are no quick fixes in “deeply complex, nuanced and layered” conflicts like those faced by alumni in the Middle East, he continues, although that should not be mistaken for ineffectiveness. Doctors are still valuable, Stauffer notes, despite the fact they have yet to eliminate disease. While he also finds hope in the idea that seemingly impossible conflicts will be resolved – the end of apartheid in South Africa being one example – he says that peacebuilders should not be afraid to acknowledge and discuss “discouragement or despondency among practitioners in a tough place like the Middle East.” Better networking among CJP and its alumni working in challenging environments was identified both by alumni interviewed for Peacebuilder and CJP faculty as one way to address the discouragement they sometimes face. In its new strategic plan completed in the spring of 2012, CJP sets forth developing new programs to strengthen alumni networking for this very reason. To Jayne Docherty, PhD, professor of leadership and public policy, the shifting dynamics of conflict in the Middle East and the combination of hope and despair these elicit from alumni, also present CJP with an opportunity to evaluate its Jayne Docherty own role in peacebuilding. “When the world changes around them, peacebuilders need to hold hope, practice humility and revise their practices,” she says. “What are we at CJP and in the U.S. peace community doing differently in response to the new realities in the Middle East? Have we examined our premises and our assumptions? Or, are we still promoting old practices [like] dialogue or taking the side of the oppressed? What can we learn from our graduates?” — AKJ
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FUNDING MATTERS Peacebuilding Takes Time
After a brief but bloody war between Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the international funding floodgates opened. Enormous amounts of relief and development aid poured into Lebanon, which had lost much of its infrastructure during the month-long conflict. The Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA), a peace and development organization in southern Lebanon directed by Fadlallah Hassouna (SPI ’10), was one beneficiary of this wave of international support. The DPNA’s budget rose to $2.5 million, allowing it to work across Lebanon with a staff of 64 and about 1,500 volunteers. But attention spans are short, and before long, other countries had risen to the top of international donors’ priority lists. The Arab Spring, in particular, diverted significant funding to Middle Eastern countries that experienced more upheaval and social change than had occurred in Lebanon. By 2012, Hassouna’s DPNA had just 10 staffers and a budget of $500,000. Similar experiences have proven frustrating for other Lebanese SPI alumni, who have seen projects end and funding shrink in recent years. “[Peacebuilding] is not something you can see. It’s a long-term process,” said Sonia Nakad (SPI ’09), who coordinates the Peacebuilding Academy for the Permanent Peace Movement, a Beirut-based NGO that promotes peace throughout the Middle East. Nakad noted that the real work of peacebuilding begins only after overt violence has ended, and requires years of work across a wide spectrum of issues to create conditions for lasting peace. Funding commitments that end after a few short years, she said, leave this work undone and risk negating earlier achievements. Despite this problem, she and her colleagues are carrying on as best they’re able with whatever resources remain. “Alone, we cannot do everything,” said Nakad. “We’re trying. It’s not easy, but if you believe in peacebuilding, you will be able to achieve something.” — AKJ
MCC To Reduce Presence in Lebanon A poor economy over the last several years has presented Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and other organizations like it, with financial challenges. Since 2008, it has had to reduce the number of sponsorships it has for peacebuilders in the Middle East to attend SPI, said Alain Epp Weaver, MCC’s director of strategic planning and learning. Budgetary considerations are also the primary reason behind a decision to close MCC’s Beirut, Lebanon, office by early 2013 and reduce funding to some of its partners in that country. It will continue to maintain some presence in Lebanon through regional representatives. This comes as a disappointment to some of its partners in Lebanon, who say reduced support from MCC will undermine their work at a time when it is needed more than ever.
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Fadlallah Hassouna, SPI ’11, tries to cope with less funding.
“Lebanon is entering a period of more conflict, and we need MCC to support us during this time,” says Fadlallah Hassouna (SPI ’10), executive director of Development for People and Nature Association, a Lebanese conflict-resolution organization that has been supported by MCC. Ruth Keidel Clemens, program director for MCC U.S., said another factor in the decision was MCC’s belief that its Lebanese partners are in a strong position to continue their work. “The presence of SPI alumni in Lebanon has made a tremendous impact on that small country, many of them being in leadership of local peacebuilding NGOs and making a tremendous impact on civil society.” Clemens says MCC remains in discussion with its partners in that country about addressing challenges into the future. — AKJ
PHOTOS by Jon Styer
BATTLING HYPOCRISY She’s Turning Down Politicized Funding Last December, as Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against the military council then ruling their country, a shocking video of security forces beating a woman protester was posted on the Internet. The “blue bra woman,” as she became known (named for the undergarments exposed during her beating), inspired further protest against Egypt’s military leaders, and became a symbol across the world of women’s empowerment. Women’s equality has long been at the top of the American foreign policy agenda, points out Muzna al-Masri, MA ’05, a Lebanese peace activist, consultant and candidate for a doctorate in anthropology. At the same time, however, the United States supported the very military regime responsible for the beating of that empowered woman in Tahrir Square. To al-Masri, this shows the political hypocrisy embedded in the peace and development projects funded by Western governments. The same week that video of the blue bra woman appeared online, al-Masri received an invitation to lead a U.S.-funded meeting on empowering Iraqi and Afghan women. Al-Masri turned the offer down, feeling it would have been dishonest to participate in a U.S.-funded project for people from countries under American military occupation. Funding, she continues, is an immense problem in the world of peacebuilding and development. A huge proportion of aid to the Middle East comes from USAID and other government agencies, most with attached political agendas. One example is USAID’s policy barring its consultants from working with people or organizations associated with “terrorism,” as defined by the U.S. government, which al-Masri says often correlates simply to opposition to American foreign policy. One of the groups labeled “terrorist” is Hezbollah, which, separate from its armed wing, operates as a political party with elected representatives in the Lebanese parliament and enjoys widespread support throughout much of the country. “I find it unacceptable to claim to engage in peacebuilding efforts when under [that policy] I would be unable to work with anybody related to a political group that represents at least a third of Lebanon’s population,” she says. Furthermore, the perceived bias of international aid projects within the Middle East has made them the targets of attacks, leading to a “securitization” of aid and peacebuilding work. Is there not something fundamentally wrong, she asks, about the increasingly common practice of armed security contractors accompanying peace and development workers into the field? For all these reasons, al-Masri – who became involved in rights and peace activism as a college student 20 years ago – is selective in the peacebuilding work she undertakes for pay. She refuses work from any project or organization funded by USAID or
Muzna al-Masri, MA ’05, decries political agendas of many funders.
other donors whose involvement is not ultimately in the best interests of the people the project claims to serve. Al-Masri adds that she does not consider herself a purist, because scrutinizing sources of funding is a responsibility of all peacebuilders. “I will continue to be at the margin of peacebuilding work now,” says al-Masri, who has turned down more than a dozen job offers because of their funders. (She attended CJP as a U.S.funded Fulbright scholar, noting that she respects that program’s mission to promote mutual understanding between Americans and people from other countries.) She points again to Egypt, where countless foreign government-funded projects spent countless dollars trying to foster democratic change, empower women, organize youth and achieve other, similar goals. As it turned out, however, actual change – the kind demanded and effected by the crowds in Tahrir Square – was driven by bloggers, labor unions, the young and frustrated, and others at the margins of professionalized peacebuilding and development. In 2010, Masri began working on her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. This was her way of escaping being tainted by externally funded peace and development work. She plans to earn her living in academia, while remaining involved in peace work in Lebanon primarily as a volunteer activist. That is how it was when she first became involved in the field nearly 20 years ago, and that is how al-Masri sees that it was for the blue bra woman in Cairo – her impact superseding the billions spent by USAID. — AKJ peacebuilder ■ 9 emu.edu/cjp
ALUMNI USE THE ARTS FOR CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION, TRAUMA-HEALING, SOCIAL CHANGE
Raffi Feghali, SPI ’10, believes the arts are not just tools for building peace; they are the way.
Arts should be cast in lead role Raffi Feghali, SPI ’10
In one of the programs he uses in trainings, Raffi Feghali assigns each person in the room a simple, two-part task: (1) Find an object that can make noise; (2) use it to create a simple rhythm that carries some sort of personal meaning. This accomplished, Feghali has each person perform his or her rhythm and explain its significance. Next, he pairs participants with one another, instructing them to coordinate their individual rhythms into a duet. Next they form quartets, octets, and eventually, the entire group gives a joint performance of their new rhythmic composition. Doing so requires negotiation, cooperation and compromise on everyone’s part. “When they sit down to talk about how it came together, everything we learn about conflict transformation actually surfaces from this process,” says Feghali, who focused at SPI on using the arts for peacebuilding. Originally trained as a computer scientist, Feghali eventually left that profession to pursue his passion for joining the arts with peacebuilding. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in expressive
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arts for conflict transformation and peacebuilding through the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Feghali also runs an organization he founded called Live Lactic Culture, dedicated to promoting improvisational theater in Lebanon and applying its techniques to social activism. He discovered “improv” theater at a festival in Amsterdam several years ago and was immediately struck by the form’s potential for peace activism. One of his current focuses is working with Lebanon’s Syrian refugees, fleeing the ongoing civil war. In improv, he notes, there exists a concept called “Yes … AND.” When one actor does something, the others immediately accept and build upon it to create a scene for the audience. “Let’s bring ‘Yes … AND’ to life and see what happens,” Feghali says. “You’ll see lots of magic, just like the magic on stage.” Furthermore, he is convinced that the arts are not simply one of many peacebuilding tools. The arts, he says, are the only way to truly transform conflict and build peace, by speaking to people on multiple levels and by establishing deeper connection to the youth who will be dealing with conflicts in the future. “The arts talk at all levels with people – it’s intellectual, emotional, physical,” Feghali says. “Arts is not a tool. It’s the only way.” — AKJ Raffi Feghali will be co-teaching an arts and media-based peacebuilding course at SPI 2013.
PHOTOS by Jon Styer
Hearing each other’s stories Carol Grosman, MA ’08
Personal stories, says Carol Grosman, MA ’08, have soft edges. They transcend the rigid opinions that entrench and exacerbate conflict in the Middle East. They present people with the opportunity to connect, to approach one another with empathy, to build understanding of those on “the other side” of an ideological chasm. Grosman, a writer, storyteller and the director of the Jerusalem Stories project, relates a personal example from a storytelling lesson she taught at an Arab school in East Jerusalem. That day, she prompted students in the class to tell each other stories about cooking mishaps. As part of the lesson, Grosman told the class about how, soon after her parents’ wedding, her mother attempted to impress her father by frying a chicken. Unfortunately Grosman’s mother went to work in a kitchen set up by her new mother-in-law, and she mistook powdered soap for flour when breading the chicken. Afterwards, one of the students – who wore conservative Islamic dress and likely held many opinions different from Grosman’s American Jewish mother – announced that the same thing had happened to her. “This is the place of human, personal stories,” says Grosman. “They take us to a whole different place where we can empathize, where we can both exist and where we can notice ‘the other.’” Grosman founded the Jerusalem Stories project in 2002, when she began collecting stories from residents of Jerusalem about how they have been affected by conflict and what the city means to them. In collaboration with the photographer Lloyd Wolf, she has since organized exhibits, led workshops and staged performances that tell the personal stories of dozens of people who call Jerusalem home. The project’s goal is to promote empathy, increase communication, and spread a sense of shared humanity among Israelis and Palestinians who live in Jerusalem and help them deal with the conflicts that frequently divide them. To reach a wider audience, Grosman is now working on a book and a film based on her Jerusalem Stories interviews. She describes her work as “powerful communication from a safe distance.” An example would be using a Palestinian actor to tell an Israeli story in Arabic to a Palestinian audience (or, vice-versa, an Israeli actor using Hebrew to tell a Israeli audience a Palestinian story). This technique, she says, can be a gentle way to reach groups of people who would be uncomfortable or unwilling to interact directly with “the other side.” “Mutual recognition of each other’s needs, fears and histories will better prepare Israeli and Palestinian publics for a positively shared future,” wrote Grosman, in a description of the Jerusalem Stories project. The work so far, she continues, has been “difficult, but very beautiful.” — AKJ
Carol Grosman, MA ’08, uses storytelling to create empathy.
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“The man who tells a story about torture is no longer alone with his memories and feelings of violation. Nor is he powerless in the way that he was.”
Ben Rivers, SPI ’10, works with the theater founded by renowned Jewish-Palestinian actor-director Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was assassinated.
Playback, despite murder and arrests Ben Rivers, SPI ’10
Working with an arts and cultural center called The Freedom Theatre in the Palestinian city of Jenin, Ben Rivers (SPI ’10) uses a form of improvisational drama called “playback theater” as a tool for trauma response and conflict transformation. During a playback theater performance, members of the audience are invited to share personal stories. After hearing each of these stories, the cast acts it out on stage. When used as a traumaresponse tool – one of its primary purposes in Rivers’ work – playback theater allows people to relate, understand and process traumatic experiences as part of a larger community. “The man who tells a story about torture is no longer alone with his memories and feelings of violation. Nor is he powerless in the way that he was,” Rivers wrote in a 2012 paper on the subject. “He chooses to enter the stage. He volunteers to tell. He casts the actors. He gives the final comment. The actors join him in a form of deep accompaniment. They are not only listening.
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They also embrace his subjective reality in an empathetic, embodied and artistic response.” This art form also represents “a potent force against hegemony” – it serves to draw attention to the difficult realities of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation, says Rivers, whose father was born in Israel but left the country in the ’70s, opposing the occupation of Palestine. Playback theater also fills important advocacy and consciousness-raising roles, key early steps in transforming an asymmetrical conflict like that between Israelis and Palestinians, he continues. Many members of The Freedom Theatre have been arrested recently on insubstantial grounds, Rivers says, which he takes as evidence that its work undermines the Israeli occupation. (In April 2011, The Freedom Theatre’s half-Jewish, half-Palestinian cofounder, 52-year-old Juliano Mer-Khamis – a former Israeli paratrooper – was murdered by a masked gunman by the theater.) As part of his work with The Freedom Theatre, Rivers is leading the Freedom Bus tour from September 23 to October 1, 2012. The tour includes Playback Theater events in 13 communities in the West Bank, as well as community visits, seminars led by Palestinian scholars and artists, and concerts. The initiative was inspired by the “Freedom Riders” who challenged racial segregation in the southern United States during the Civil Rights era. Rivers says he benefitted from his experience at SPI by developing significant relationships and gained valuable opportunity for in-depth study of trauma and conflict transformation theory. — AKJ
PHOTOS by Jon Styer
‘NAKBA’ Informing Israelis About Palestinian ‘Catastrophe’ Growing up in Israel’s Hula Valley, Amaya Galili (SPI ’10) heard stories about her grandfather, who had lived in the same area and died when she was young. Though Jewish, he had Palestinian business associates, good relations with his Palestinian neighbors, and was involved in the community’s joint Palestinian-Jewish clinic. He even spoke Arabic. Galili did not know any Palestinians herself. When she was a child, she did not stop to wonder where they had gone. It wasn’t something people talked about. In school, her history lessons focused on the founding of Israel, but were silent as to what had become of the Palestinians who had once lived nearby. As she got older, though, Galili began to think more critically about the stories she heard about her grandfather, including ones about his involvement in local politics and military intelligence during the ’40s. It became apparent that, for specific reasons, her grandfather knew Palestinians and she did not. While studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she learned about the nakba, an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe,” used to describe the deportation of more than 700,000 Palestinians from the newly founded state of Israel in 1948. She read The Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (1988) by Benny Morris, one of the first Israeli historians to write about how the Israeli military played a role in the event by expelling and intimidating Palestinians into leaving. This, she realized, explained why she never knew any Palestinians. During this time, she also discovered that her grandfather took an active part in the deportation of his Palestinian neighbors in the Hula Valley. Since 2007, Galili has worked for Zochrot, an organization based in Tel Aviv that works to promote peace by raising awareness of the nakba within Jewish-Israeli society. The ongoing implications of the nakba – particularly, questions surrounding Palestinian refugees’ right of return – remain among the thorniest challenges to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. At the same time, Galili says, Jewish-Israeli society remains largely ignorant about the event. “The nakba is not part of who we are [as Israelis],” she says. As Zochrot’s educational coordinator, Galili has
Amaya Galili, SPI ’10, wants full history to be known.
produced and promoted an educational guide called How Do We Say ‘Nakba’ In Hebrew? Since its publication in 2009, several hundred teachers have taken copies and participated in seminars sponsored by Zochrot; Galili hopes to someday see the group’s materials included in school curricula throughout Israel. Zochrot’s mission remains highly controversial in Israel. Earlier this year, three people were arrested for disturbing the peace at a Zochrot-organized demonstration in Tel Aviv during which they read aloud the names of Palestinian villages that existed in the area before 1948. Some of Galili’s own family and friends oppose the work that she does. Nevertheless, she believes that honest discussion about the nakba is a key to establishing lasting peace in Israel. “Talking about refugees and the nakba and the right of return is the fundamental, basic element that can lead to peace and justice and coexistence between Palestinians and Jewish people,” she says. “It opens possibilities for peace. What we are trying to do is look backward in order to move forward.” “Zochrot is a place of hope,” says Galili. “It is a place where people can talk about the fundamental elements of our problem and look for new and creative ways to build a just and lasting life together here.” — AKJ Editor's note: Some of the terminology used in this article – particularly the use of “Palestinian” to refer to Arab residents of Israel prior to that country’s establishment in 1948 – is controversial and politically charged within modern Israeli society. Galili uses the terminology as a way of declaring her view that broader understanding and acknowledging the nakba is important for her country’s future.
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Palestinian Maysa Baransi, SPI ’09, is co-founder with an Israeli partner of a radio station that is trying to survive despite suppression.
Under Attack Joint Israeli-Palestinian Broadcasts On the day a reporter and photographer for Peacebuilder visited Maysa Baransi (SPI ’09) in her East Jerusalem office, the All for Peace radio website was down, the work of hackers hostile to the station’s mission. Since co-founding All for Peace, the first joint Israeli-Palestinian radio station, Baransi has gotten used to this kind of thing. To promote peace and mutual understanding, the station exposes listeners to a wide variety of perspectives and opinions – which means it has supporters, and more worrisomely, detractors on both sides of the conflict. “We have lots of negative feedback but when [that happens], we know that we’re getting to the right target group. We’re here to convert the unconverted, not the converted,” says Baransi, 36, now the station’s executive director. Having previously worked for the first private Palestinian radio station, Baransi knew that both Israelis and Palestinians are big consumers of media. Inspired by radio’s potential to reach an enormous audience in the region, she and an Israeli partner, Mossi Raz, co-founded All for Peace in 2004.
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From its studios in East Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, a small staff and numerous volunteers produce around 50 programs on political, cultural and religious topics. The station’s hosts likewise report and comment on issues from divergent points of view. The official purpose of the station is to provide a platform for alternative voices and to promote coexistence, peace, mutual respect, pluralism and social justice. The effort has stretched both the station’s audience and its staff. “It was very challenging for the other to see the other, not only as Israelis and Palestinians, but for the seculars to see a religious person coming in here and talking about their own beliefs,” says Baransi, who was raised as a Christian in a Greek Orthodox family from Galilee. (A 2007 article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Baransi telling her daughter, “There was the first prophet, Moses, and people didn’t listen to him and then God took the second prophet, Jesus, and he wasn’t listened to either, and then God took the third prophet, Mohammed, and people don’t listen to him. But God is the same God.”) All for Peace’s mixture of programming intentionally pushes listeners out of their comfort zones. The audience attracted by one particular show inevitably will be exposed to very different points of view expressed on programs aired just before and after. All for Peace produces programming in Arabic, Hebrew, Russian and English, and began broadcasting in two frequencies – one Hebrew and one Arabic – in 2010. For their work, Baransi and Raz received the Outstanding Contribution to Peace award in
PHOTOS by Jon Styer
MIDEAST 2010 from the International Council for Press and Broadcasting. Earlier it received a United Nations Award for Intercultural Innovation. Angry phone calls and hacker disruption of the radio station’s website, however, amount to sideshows beside official crackdowns. In November 2011, the Israeli Communications Ministry issued a shut-down order. Claiming that All for Peace was broadcasting illegally into Israel (its transmitter is in the West Bank), the ministry initially justified the decision on the basis that the station’s Hebrew advertising caused economic harm to legal Israeli stations. A conservative Israeli politician later said All for Peace was shut down for “incitement.” Denying the charge of illegal operation, All for Peace appealed the ministry’s decision to the Israeli Supreme Court, which had not ruled on the case as of early September 2012. In the meantime, the station’s Hebrew frequency has been taken off the air, reducing its advertising revenue by 90 percent, according to other news reports (though, with grant and foundation money, the station is not wholly dependent on advertising sales). The station
continues to broadcast online, as well as through its Arabic-language frequency in the West Bank. For the moment, Baransi and All for Peace Radio remain caught in a limbo, awaiting the court ruling on the station’s future. In a way, it serves as an allegory, Baransi says, of the frustrating, up-and-down, one-step-forward, two-steps-back nature of the entire peace process. “Sometimes you feel very encouraged,” she says. “And sometimes you look back and say, ‘My God, I’m just going backwards.’” — AKJ Postscript: As Peacebuilder was being readied for publication, we learned that a rubber bullet shot from an Israeli checkpoint shattered Baransi’s rear car window on Aug. 10, 2012, as she drove with her daughter between Ramallah and their home in East Jerusalem. In seeking to understand the reason for the shooting, Baransi was told that a riot had recently occurred in that area and that Israeli officials were still in a response mode to that event.
Peace Journalists Needed in Lebanon and World Fellow journalists tend to react with confusion when Nisrine Ajab (SPI ’09 & '10) talks about “peace journalism.” It is not a widely understood or accepted term in Lebanese media circles, where newspapers and broadcast media traditionally align themselves with specific political parties. Ajab, however, believes that peacebuilding tools are an essential part of good journalism – and that good journalism is an essential part of peacebuilding. “The messages that are sent through media play a big role in influencing how people behave,” says Ajab, who works as an investigative journalist and news writer at Future News TV in Beirut. Because of this, she says, media can and should play an important role in peacebuilding work. Ajab also writes for Elaph, the first Arabic e-newspaper, as well as several other media outlets in the region. The principles of peace journalism, she says, include eliminating bias, seeking out multiple sides to every story, and using words and language carefully, mindful of their impact on readers and society. “I think a peace journalist is someone who has to dig for the truth before judging what’s going on,” says Ajab. “And when we are covering a story, we should give all
Nisrine Ajab (SPI ’09 & '10)
parties the chance to talk about their point of view.” While attending SPI, Ajab began work on a documentary film about the peacebuilding work her fellow students and instructors were involved in. While she has yet to finish editing the video, she hopes that it will become the first of many such projects. Eventually, she envisions traveling the world to film documentaries on peacebuilding themes. Now working on her master’s degree in media and communication studies (her thesis is on the role of social media in the Arab Spring), Ajab aspires to teach peace journalism at a Lebanese university. By doing so, she hopes to bring about a time when peace journalism will no longer be the strange, unfamiliar concept it is today. — AKJ
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REEM MUSTAFA, SPI ’06 // Coordinator for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a German NGO that provides support and funding to the Palestinian Authority and various Palestinian NGOs. // “Sometimes I need to escape this country for a couple of days in order to regain my strength. Whenever you do something and you succeed, that gives you a kind of energy. But it’s always so hard.” // In her work, the abnormal is normal. Mustafa coordinates travel across borders for conferences, trainings, international visits. Things usually don’t go according to plan. Every success, however small, is something to be celebrated. // “Without hope, we cannot survive over here. Sometimes we lose it, but we try to regain it again as much as we can.”
NADA ZABANEH, SPI ’09 (foreground in photo) // Has worked for MCC Jordan since 1991, currently as program coordinator for Jordan. // Work focuses on development, peace and education projects with 14 Jordanian partner organizations. // Has been a mediator by nature her entire life, but gained practical skills at SPI. // Recently, a leadership conflict developed with a partner agency in northern Jordan. Working as a mediator between the two parties, Zabaneh was able to bring situation to agreeable resolution.
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PHOTOS by Jon Styer
SALWA AL-SUKHON, SPI ’08 // Works as a trainer and consultant specializing in human skills, performance and conflict resolution in Jordan. // Says conflict resolution skills are not widely taught in her country. // Trainings with businesses often involve intra-office conflicts. // Emphasizes cooperative activities and dialogue skills, conducting both joint and one-on-one counseling. // Fanaticism is stupidity, she says. “Don’t reject others just because they’re different.”
DANIEL SHARAIHA, SPI ’08 (at right, facing reporter Andrew Jenner) // Head of human resources at a large corporate bank in Jordan with more than 600 employees. // “There are definitely conflicts that we deal with in HR,” he says, with a wry smile. // Recently certified as a dialogue educator through Global Learning Partners’ Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach program, after providing dialogue training for World Vision staff in Armenia. // Volunteers as youth leader working on conflict transformation and peacebuilding projects. // “If you want to maintain peace in the Middle East, or in communities, or in families, or in a home, it starts with dialogue. If we want to create change in this part of the world, it starts with talking to each other.”
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“I can’t afford to sit and do nothing, because that would be a disaster.”
ENLIGHTENED TOURISM Palestinian ‘Pioneer’ of Nonviolence Returns to Guiding Visitors There is a specific spot on a specific road on the northern edge of Bethlehem where Husam Jubran, MA ’04, likes to take visitors. On one side is the Aida camp, the crowded home of nearly 5,000 Palestinians registered as refugees with the United Nations. On the other side of the road is the tall, graffiti-covered concrete wall, erected in 2004 by Israeli authorities to serve as a physical barrier between the West Bank and Israel. These are facts. Then there are the narratives that couch these facts within specific worldviews. Some dispute that the residents of Aida are in fact refugees. Others insist the refugees there must be allowed to return to homes from which their grandparents were forced more than 60 years ago. Some say Palestinian terrorist attacks necessitated Israel’s construction of the “security fence” that runs past Aida. 18
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Some say the “apartheid wall” exists to further Israeli control over the people and resources of the Occupied Territories. From this spot on the street, Jubran tells visitors how the scene fits into his own narrative as a Palestinian and a nonviolence activist. For example: the wall interferes with the education of Palestinian girls, because it has made travel within the West Bank more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Some families with limited resources, facing higher costs to get their kids from home to school, have to pick which of their children will receive an education, and which will not. Given Palestinian cultural norms, it is the girls who often end up staying home – more often now than before the wall existed.
Israeli-Palestinian Tour Co.
“My passions are nonviolence and tourism,” says Jubran, who since 2011 has worked as a guide with Mejdi, a “dual-narrative” tourism company that exposes visitors to a variety of perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (One of the company’s owners is Rabbi Marc Gopin, the director of George Mason University’s Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, and a professor at EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute for several sessions in the early years of the program.) Mejdi’s tours in Israel and Palestine typically feature two PHOTO by Jon Styer
Jubran, who had already been thinking of pursuing a graduate degree somewhere, had further incentive to leave for a period of respite. When he came across a newspaper announcement advertising Fulbright scholarships to study conflict resolution in the U.S., he immediately knew he wanted to apply. By the fall of 2002, he was in Harrisonburg to pursue a master’s degree from EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. He finished in 2004, with concentrations on facilitation as well as mediation and nonviolence. After his return to Palestine, he developed a five-day training course on conflict analysis and nonviolent organizing. Jubran gave trainings all over the West Bank from 2004 to 2007, when he worked with the Holy Land Trust, a humanitarian organization based in Bethlehem. From 2008 through 2011, he worked through Birzeit University near Ramallah, developing programs in leadership, conflict management, planning and communication.
Nonviolence Is Not Passive
Husam Jubran, MA ’04, with Israel's "security fence" at left and the Aida refugee camp at right.
guides, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who provide contrasting perspectives on the region’s history as well as its current conflicts. Jubran said growing demand for Mejdi’s tours indicates a strong interest in this kind of learning among students, religious groups and others who visit the region. Raised in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, right beside Bethlehem, Jubran was 17 years old when the First Intifada began. To this day, he is unsure what exactly prompted his involvement in the widespread, mostly nonviolent uprising. The best he can tell, it was a vague sense that the situation of the Palestinian people was unjust and that he was determined to work for something better. Jubran joined the stone-throwing crowds. He wrote protest slogans on walls. He helped organize a community movement to withhold its tax payments to Israel. He spent three months in the hospital after getting shot in 1989, and was jailed several times. At the time, he had a general awareness of the concepts and practice of nonviolence, but it was not at the front of his mind. After the Intifada ended, Jubran began to learn more about the principles of nonviolence and began to practice them more deliberately while he spent the rest of the ’90s working for various NGOs and in alternative tourism. In 2000, life in Palestine became significantly more difficult when the Second Intifada began.
The term “nonviolence” has been controversial within Palestinian society. Some equate it with weakness and submission, rather than engagement with an opponent. Jubran said that some of the projects he worked on, both before and after his time at EMU, along with the work of a number of other colleagues, played a role in spreading acceptance and awareness of nonviolence in Palestine. Corresponding work elsewhere in the region, he said, gained full expression during the Arab Spring, when nonviolent techniques figured prominently into many of the antigovernment protests that began in the Middle East in 2011. “In a way, some other people and I were pioneers. We helped shape a movement that changed the perception of nonviolence,” he says, with a sense of accomplishment. In 2011, Jubran, who is married with two young daughters, decided to take a break from the stressful world of NGOs to concentrate on his long-standing interest in tourism through Mejdi Tours. Responding to growing interest from religious groups, Mejdi launched a single-day tour program for individuals and smaller groups in the spring of 2012. (Jubran also remains involved with Hands Of Peace, a group that brings Israeli and Palestinian youth together each summer, and Synergos, an organization that provides funding and support to social innovators working on issues of equality and poverty.) While shifting his career focus, the move doesn’t diminish his desire to remain involved in efforts to transform the deep and wide conflicts that continue to divide Israelis and Palestinians. “I can’t afford to sit and do nothing, because that would be a disaster,” says Jubran. “For the moment, tourism will give me the leverage of reaching many people.” The future in the Middle East right now seems as uncertain and foreboding as ever. Full-blown war has erupted in Syria; the possibility of war between Iran and Israel or the U.S. hangs over the region like a cloud. “As a person, I’m always hopeful,” he continues. “[But] it’s so confusing in the Middle East. I can’t tell what’s going to happen. This is the first time I’ve felt so confused.” — AKJ peacebuilder ■ 19 emu.edu/cjp
INVESTING IN THE YOUTH Alumni Focus Efforts on Future Generations
Rami Shamma, SPI ’08, says he used to be one of those young people "who didn't care about anything at all," but not now.
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PHOTOS by Jon Styer
Assessing the situation of Lebanon nearly a decade ago, 56-year-old Fadlallah Hassouna (SPI ’10 & ’11) drew a number of conclusions. First, his generation had generally made a corrupt mess of Lebanese politics and society. Second, more than half the people living with the effects of this were under the age of 25. Prompted by this reality, Hassouna founded the Development for People and Nature Association, or DPNA, in 2003 to mentor, empower and encourage Lebanese youth to do things differently. “If you want to build positive change and achieve positive results, you have to build on new human resources, and that’s why I started with the youth,” says Hassouna. Based in southern Lebanon, DPNA has worked on a wide variety of projects across the country, ranging from civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and peacebuilding to basketball camps. Regardless of the project’s specifics, Hassouna has kept constant focus on the empowerment and development of young people, who represent both his country’s future as well as its biggest resource. Now preparing to step aside and hand leadership of DPNA to younger leaders with fresh energy and ideas, Hassouna said his biggest achievement is the confidence he now has in some of those young leaders preparing to take over.
One of the young people mentored by Hassouna is Rami Shamma (SPI ’08), who has worked with the DPNA since 2006. Originally trained as a computer engineer, Shamma has experienced himself some of the obstacles that fuel a rampant apathy among young people in Lebanon. Among these is the “wasta” system, a form of nepotism or cronyism prevalent in Lebanese politics and economic life that rewards family and sectarian loyalties more than qualifications or ability. Also, the simple fact that Lebanese civil society is stifled by entrenched powers discourages youth interest and involvement. “Before I enrolled in DPNA, I was the kind of person who didn’t care about anything at all,” says Shamma, adding that this perspective was shared by almost all his peers. Shamma says he was fortunate to become involved with the DPNA when he began assisting his father, who taught computer classes for the organization. Soon thereafter, in the summer of 2006, a war with Israel displaced huge numbers of people within Lebanon. Hassouna, who had gotten to know Shamma, encouraged him to apply for a position with a DPNA emergency relief project in southern Lebanon. Shamma took the job, and later became the manager of another DPNA project to encourage youth participation in the political process. Because of that effort, nearly 40 youth ran for local office or worked for electoral campaigns in 2010. Several of them won election to public office. The fact that so many more simply participated, however, is even more exciting to Shamma.
He currently manages a project for DPNA that develops youth entrepreneurship and leadership skills. Through his involvement with DPNA, Shamma says, he found new direction and focus in life, which he intends to spread as widely as he’s able. His biggest hope for the future is to see young people talk more, think more, act more; it is both an enormous challenge, he says, and a worthwhile one.
Working with young leaders is also atop the agenda for Fadi Rabieh, MA ’08, who oversees the Israeli-Palestinian Leadership Network, a Jerusalem-based program of Search for Common Ground, an NGO that works worldwide on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. In that role, Rabieh is working on creating a network of Palestinian and Israeli leaders across the various sectors and divides. (One of the participants in this program is Maysa Baransi, SPI ’09; see story p. 14.) “We are in a leadership crisis in this part of the world,” says Rabieh, whose hope is to create a strong network of creative, engaged young leaders who will help untangle the problems facing Israelis and Palestinians. One strategy he has been using is pairing young Israeli and Palestinian leaders within each side’s political, religious, business and civic sectors. Often, Rabieh says, these leaders have more in common with counterparts across the border than they do with other people within their own societies. “They have a group culture – profession – that binds them together. That kind of identity, in my opinion, is sometimes stronger than ethnic identity.” To facilitate trust and friendship between these leaders, Rabieh brings them together for a variety of experiences, including wilderness expeditions facilitated by the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding. As they develop relationships with one another, Rabieh continues, they begin to empathize with one another, and conceive of “the other side” in more human terms. Awareness of and appreciation for the surprising similarities that exist among people on either side of traditional dividing lines begins to play a role in the decisions they make as leaders within their respective communities. Gentle nudges from leaders within their various communities, he says, can have tremendous impact on the wider peace process.
“These are the leaders of tomorrow. These are the people who are going to build and develop Palestine and ensure a sustainable peace [here].” Ruba Musleh, MA ’08 peacebuilder ■ 21 emu.edu/cjp
“That’s the beauty of working with leadership,” says Rabieh, who has found the work profoundly encouraging and hopeinspiring. “I believe everything is possible. Peace is possible, love is possible, brotherhood is possible. As a result of my work with these people, I have lots of faith in the goodness of the human being.”
Breaking the Cycle
In Ramallah, a Palestinian city north of Jerusalem, Ruba Musleh, MA ’08, is working on a different project to develop entrepreneurship and career skills among Palestinian youth, some of whom may go on to become the kinds of leaders Rabieh works with. As a youth entrepreneurship specialist with the International Youth Foundation, Musleh works to strengthen the capacities of numerous partner institutions that work with young people in the West Bank. Her work includes grant implementation, coaching and training to help these partners provide quality services to youth. “These are the leaders of tomorrow. These are the people who are going to build and develop Palestine and ensure a sustainable peace [here],” she says. There has been no shortage of well-intentioned efforts to achieve similar goals over the years in Palestine, Musleh notes. Lack of coordination between the various NGOs working on these projects, however, has been a significant challenge and has led to what she describes as a constant “reinvention of the wheel.” Different groups come in to provide the same trainings and teach the same skills to the same youth over and over, and nothing really changes. While the project she is working on is new, Musleh says one of its unique characteristics, designed to avoid the pitfalls of previous efforts, has been the development of partnerships with Palestinian entities, including the private sector and universities. By collaborating with private Palestinian businesses, Musleh’s project supports internship programs that develop employability and entrepreneurship skills, while providing practical work experience. Another benefit of bringing in the universities and private sector is to develop local ownership of and accountability for the work that International Youth Foundation is doing. This, she says, is an important way to ensure the work now underway comes to fruition, even if external funding decreases or ends at some future point (See story on p.8 for more on this challenge to peace and development work in the region). “A lot of work [still] needs to be done in this area, but we’re going in the right direction,” Musleh says.
School vs. Fanaticism
Still other alumni are working with youth at an even earlier age, including Michael Chacour (SPI ’08), executive manager at the Mar Elias Educational Institute in Ibillin, Israel. The school, which has more than 4,500 students from kindergarten through university, was founded by Chacour’s well-known uncle, Bishop Elias Chacour, and is affiliated with the Melkite Church, a Middle Eastern branch of Catholicism. More than 70 percent of the student body comes from Muslim families. The school, Chacour says, places strong emphasis on cultivating
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“I believe everything is possible. Peace is possible, love is possible, brotherhood is possible. As a result of my work with these people, I have lots of faith in the goodness of the human being.” Fadi Rabieh, MA ’08
Fadi Rabieh, MA ’08, works for Search for Common Ground.
respect for and acceptance of differences among its diverse group of students. In this way, he continues, the school stands as a counterbalance to the forces of fanaticism that continue to divide the Middle East. “Accept the others as you accept yourself. This is what Jesus teaches us and this is what we teach our students,” he says. — AKJ (For more information on the history of the Mar Elias Educational Institute, see Elias Chacour’s 2001 memoir We Belong to the Land –The Story of a Palestinian Israeli Who Lives for Peace & Reconciliation, published by the University of Notre Dame.)
Michael Chacour, SPI ’08, listens intently as Shany Payes, SPI ’08, expresses her thoughts in Tel Aviv.
Learning Together As a Way Forward When the Nazareth Academic Institute (NAI) opened its doors in 2010, the fact that it was the first Arab university accredited in Israel was just one of the school’s distinguishing characteristics. “We look at all our subjects through the lens of peace studies, which is unique,” says Shany Payes (SPI ’08), director of the peace studies program at the university. That means curricula in each of the university’s degree programs – communication, chemistry and occupational therapy (with computer science soon to be added) – incorporate study of peace and multicultural issues. “[SPI] helped very much to design my courses and my program, and it was very enriching in terms of the people that I met,” says Payes, who was a participant when the NAI was pursuing accreditation from the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Though jointly run by Arabs and Jews (Payes
is Jewish), NAI’s student body to date has been predominantly Arab and overwhelmingly female. So far, 80 students have studied at NAI, with 40 more expected to enroll for the fall of 2012. The university has also acquired land just outside Nazareth where it will begin building a new campus in early 2013. Once that expansion is complete, Payes says, the university plans to increase the size and diversity of its student body. In the meantime, though, the NAI is offering opportunity for higher education to an underserved group within Israel. Payes says that linguistic, cultural and geographic barriers make it very difficult for Israel’s Arab citizens to attend Israeli universities. A university degree, she adds, boosts an Israeli Arab woman’s chances of finding employment from 20 percent to 80 percent. “We really want to become a place of meeting and encounter and transformation,” she continues, noting that Israeli society remains largely segregated along racial and religious lines. “We hope to be a model of how Arabs and Jews can work together for the same vision. Separation is not a way forward.” — AKJ
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This early 2012 street scene in Beirut looks peaceful, but Lebanese peacebuilders say their society is under great stress.
GIVE ME RESPITE In the Arms of the SPI Family Life in Beirut can be an endless, grinding stress, and to compensate, Rami Shamma (SPI ’08) used to find himself constantly fidgeting with things and shaking his leg. Soon after his arrival on EMU’s campus, though, he noticed a change. “The atmosphere that is present in Harrisonburg, and in particular at EMU, is one of the safest environments I’ve ever seen in my entire life, in terms of security and in terms of feeling comfortable,” he says. “I felt that there was no stress, and I noticed that my leg wasn’t shaking anymore.” Shamma says he was amazed and inspired by the way participants at his session of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) got along so well despite all the differences between them. Attending SPI, Shamma adds, dramatically improved the way he has interacted with people at home ever since. Fadi Rabieh, MA ’08, spent a significantly longer time at EMU while going through the two-year master’s program but came away with a similar impression of the atmosphere there – calling it, quite simply, the most peaceful place he’s ever experienced. His time there, he says, had a profound impact on his worldview, and the relationships he developed were very strong. “It’s literally like another home. It’s like a family,” Rabieh says. SPI co-director Bill Goldberg, MA ’01, often hears from 24
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participants who are reluctant to leave Harrisonburg, where, in addition to intensive academic study, they have opportunity for respite and are able to recharge themselves away from their oftenstressful careers and lives at home. “There has always been a very conscious attempt to make people feel relaxed,” Goldberg says. Beginning with meeting arrivals at airports, he, co-director Valerie Helbert, MA ’08, and the rest of the SPI staff try to ensure participants’ arrivals go smoothly. Welcoming events on the first day of each session are intended to create a sense of connection among everyone. Throughout SPI, coffee breaks and two-hour lunches each day are also structured to encourage social interaction. Other activities planned to create a restful, nurturing environment include hikes, yoga, zumba, trips to different places of worship, and interfaith discussions led by the SPI chaplain. That spiritual aspect of SPI was one of the characteristics Emil El Dik (SPI ’99 & ’00) appreciated most about the experience. “The atmosphere at SPI is really very warm and helpful. It’s very spiritual. You don’t just learn from the professors. The whole context is rich,” says El Dik, a trainer in peacebuilding, conflict transformation and mediation in Amman, Jordan. With so many participants coming from a multitude of backgrounds and perspectives, El Dik says the gentle environment that exists at SPI allows classes to transcend cold methodology. Students, he continues, feel encouraged to be authentic and creative – all of which are important for successful peacebuilding and conflict resolution. “It’s not just about knowledge, theories. It’s about transforming people,” he says. “Everyone there was touched by what we studied. We were transformed.” — AKJ SPI 2013 will be held May 6-June 14, 2013. Courses will be announced in late October on the SPI website, www.edu.edu/spi.
PHOTO by Jon Styer
Bshara Nassar belongs to a Palestinian-Christian family who responded in 2000 to threatened Israeli confiscation of their farmland by transforming it to be the now-famous Tent of Nations, hosting thousands of visitors. He is now a graduate student at CJP.
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Four reasons to support the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding:
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Known world-wide for educating and developing effective leaders in conflict transformation, restorative justice, trauma healing and conflictsensitive development. Home to one of the few graduate-level programs that equips people to work for peace and justice at the community level, thereby supporting peace and justice at societal and global levels.
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Join us in realizing our vision to develop leaders who will create a just, peaceful and secure world. peacebuilder â– 25 emu.edu/cjp
EASTERN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY 1200 Park Road Harrisonburg VA 22802-2462 USA
THE SUMMER PEACEBUILDING INSTITUTE: Professional, academic trainings in a healing environment where you’ll become a part of a worldwide network of peacebuilders.
APPLY TODAY • emu.edu/spi • firstname.lastname@example.org • 540-432-4295 PEACEBUILDER is a biannual supplement of Crossroads, a periodical published three times a year by Eastern Mennonite University.