Juliano’s Dream of Peace and Freedom Lives On

English follows Arabic:

جوليانو كان إنساناً يحمل في قلبه حلم الحرية والسلام، وعمل جاهداً في سبيل تحقيق هذا الحلم. لكن أعداء الحرية والسلام أي كان مذهبهم أو قوميتهم لم يكلوا من  محاولة ثنيه عن طريقه فعمدوا إلى أجبن الطرق وقتلوه بدم بارد.

ان الشعب الفلسطيني فقد جوليانو بجسده، لكنه ما زال حاضراً بحلمه وطموحه. ونحن في مؤسسة الطريق نرى في اغتيال جوليانو محاولة فاشلة لثني الشعب الفلسطيني عن إرادته في الحرية، لهذا فنحن نؤكد إصرارنا على مواصلة الطريق، طريق الحرية والسلام. وكما أن كل التعازي لن تخفف ألم الفاجعة، كذلك فإن كل التنديد لن يكفي لتأكيد رفضنا

لهذه الجريمة البشعة. لذا فحاجتنا إلى العمل الجاد أكبر، ومسؤوليتنا نحو حلم جوليانو وغيره من أنصار العدالة والحرية أعم وأعظم.

Juliano Mer-Khamis was a human who carried his heart dream of peace and freedom in his heart and worked tirelessly for his dream to be realized. But the enemies of peace and freedom, of whatever creed or nationality they are, never stopped standing in his way, and eventually resorted to the most cowardly way of killing him–in cold blood.

The Palestinian people lost Juliano in his body, but he remains present in our dream and ambition. We, Al-Tariq, see in the killing of Juliano as a failed attempt to hinder the Palestinian will to freedom, therefore, we emphasize our persistence to continue on the path–the path of freedom and peace which Julio led with love and dedication. All condolences will not suffice, neither will condemnations of this murderous act. Our need to work for freedom is greater and our responsibility toward the dreams that Juliano perused have never been more prevalent and significant.

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The Save the Water! Project Starts in Three Palestinian Villages

This month we held our first set of Save the Water! advocacy trainings, an EU sponsored project, for villagers in Ras Karakar, Al – Janiya and Ein Ark, rural villages outside of Ramallah. Through our trainings we reached nearly 75 people 20 – 50 years old, with a strong representation of youth.

The Save the Water! project will take place over the next two years and has two main goals; to teach the participants about advocacy, democracy and human rights related to water, and to build local village councils to advocate local and regional governments to improve the water and waste water management situation in Palestine. As a result of the trainings, participants will receive a certificate in water advocacy from Al Tariq.

Al Tariq’s Executive Director opened the trainings by talking about his vision for the villages and their future in advocacy. Then, three lecturers shared with participants the goals of the Save the Water! project and the current water situation in Palestine. Participants learned how the water becomes polluted, the biggest problem that inhabitants suffer from and learned how to calculate their water footprint.

During the panel about advocacy, participants learned to “think outside the box” by participating in games and icebreakers which encouraged them to interact with each other. Participants shared stories about their experience with advocacy and learned how to build a successful advocacy campaign with goals, connections, alliances, and coalitions.

Participants were also divided to three groups were they discussed human rights in their point of view and compared their thoughts to the Declaration of Human Rights. In the next group workshop each group will plan a water rights project that they would like to implement in their community.

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Executive Director of Al Tariq Named One of the 500 Most Influential Muslims

Al Tariq is proud to announce that Khaled Abu Awwad, our Executive Director, was chosen by “The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre” as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in 2010. The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan. The book can be downloaded here.

Since 2000, when Khaled’s brother was killed by the Israeli military, he has worked with the Parent’s Circle Families Forum to build opportunities for peace and reconciliation between the two nations.  Today he serves as the Executive Director of Al Tariq, the Palestinian partner of the Parent’s Circle, and works on several development and peacebuilding projects in Palestinian and Israeli society.

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Palestinian Young Leaders Discuss Tough Topics in their Society

Palestinian Young Leaders meet for a national meeting - January 2010

Palestinian Young Leaders met at Al Tariq’s Resource Center in al-Ram for the first Palestinian national meeting of 2011. These meetings give Young Leaders the chance to reflect on their experience in the Summer Academy, the Bi-National Meeting with Israelis, and discuss internal issues in Palestinian society.

The self-organized meeting started with a discussion led by Adel Hroub, a Young Leader and student at Abu Dis. He spoke to the group about the field of social sciences and what it means to be a social scientist. This provoked discussion about many different aspects of Palestinian society and the problems that young people see in the society today. The major topics discussed were:

Education: The Palestinian education system is based on memorization and students are not encouraged to think critically or creatively. As a result, many students are bored in school and associate learning with regurgitation instead of thinking. The participants discussed the new Creative Writing Program that Al Tariq is starting and expressed their excitement for an opportunity to learn how to express themselves and to participate in creative writing workshops.

Child Smoking: Many children smoke cigarettes in Palestine. While this trend is changing, it is still a big problem and one of the Young Leaders talked about his relative who organized a demonstration at a local school to raise awareness about the problem and to make smoking taboo for kids. He spoke to the group about how he organized the event and his inspiration to do something about this important health and education issue, inspiring others to take action.

Gossip and Honor: A big problem in Palestinian society is gossip.  What people say is regarded as important as what someone has done.  This can cause many problems for women in particular because their reputation often determines what kind of marriage partner they will find and how their social and economic status will be. For example, if there is a rumor that a woman was alone with a man — something that is considered culturally unacceptable — rumors can spread that she is not honorable and she and her family may be ostracized.

Lack of Extra Curricular Activities: Participants discussed the lack of activities for children and young people outside of school. This free time creates many developmental problems and is a wasted opportunity to improve the society and themselves. The group started to discuss different possible extra-curricular activities that they could lead and how they could engage children in their work.

Future Plans: One of the activities that the participants wanted to do is to go and visit some of the different social projects in Palestine. Now, they are working to plan trips to the Jenin Freedom Theater, the Old City in Hebron, the Tent of Nations and several villages that are participating in the non-violent, or popular struggle.

Hani Abdou, one of Al Tariq’s Palestinian Young Leaders, contributed to this report.

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Young Leaders Bi-National Meeting

Palestinian and Israeli Young Leaders met in Bethlehem for a weekend of workshops, seminars, dialogue and activities. This was the first time that most of the participants attended the 2010 Summer Academy were able to meet each other and participants of past Summer Academies. The entire weekend was organized by coordinators that the Young Leaders had previously appointed, further empowering the young people and giving them the opportunity to work with the other side.

The weekend started by sharing experiences in the Summer Academy and how participants lives changed when they returned to their different societies. Participants also participated in a “World Café” workshop, where they broke off into small groups and had important questions to discuss related to the conflict. Some of the questions were:

  • What is anti-Semitism? What is Islamaphobia?
  • How did meeting the other side effect you?
  • Did it change your perceptions of the “other” and of your own “side”?
  • What do you think about the current peace process? What is the reaction of people on your “side”?
  • What was the last political issue that irritated you the most and why?

Palestinian and Israeli Young Leaders meet in Bethlehem, occupied Palestinian territories - December 2010

The first evening, one of the Palestinian participants showed a short documentary about the Popular Struggle, or unarmed resistance, in Beit Ummar and gave a lecture about the role collaborators play in the Israeli strategy of undermining Palestinian activists. Other Palestinian participants shared their personal stories of collaboration, opening up to the group about one of the central issues in Palestinian society today and giving Israeli participants the opportunity to talk about the problems they experience in their society. An Israeli Young Leader also led a discussion about political parties in Israel and their different definitions of Zionism.

Palestinian and Israeli Young Leaders take a tour of Bethlehem - December 2010

After the discussion, the group went on a tour of Bethlehem with a tour guide that spoke Arabic and Hebrew. This experience was particularly signficant for Israelis, who were surprised that they did not have to conceal their Israeli identity in Palestinian areas. It also was exciting for the Palestinian participants, because they were able to show the Israelis that they do not need to fear the other and that Palestinians are accepting of Israelis who come as human beings, not as soldiers or settlers.

An Israeli and Palestinian participant sit at Maan News Agency's news desk

The Young Leaders also toured Maan News Agency, where they met the general manager, Raed Othman, and learned about the challenges of being a journalist in Palestine and working under Israelis occupation. The group also discussed how the media affects both sides perception of the conflict and toured the editing department, radio and television station.

The final event for the weekend was held right outside of Dahashe refugee camp at Fatima Al-Jaafari’s house, a prominent Palestinian political leader and bereaved family member. She told the group her personal story, about how three of her brothers were killed by the Israeli Defense Forces and how she turned her pain into political activity, most notably working with women and youth in the refugee camp and starting a sewing and embroidery cooperative to help provide widows and other women at risk with a sustainable income.

Young Leaders share a moment with Palestinian leader, Fatima al-Jaafari, in her home outside of Dahashe refugee camp

The next event the Young Leaders will participate in will be two national meetings, one of Israelis and one of Palestinians, in early 2011.

This event was made possible by Wings of Hope.  If you are interested in supporting the Young Leaders and Al Tariq,  please feel free to contact us, join our facebook page and share our message of development, democracy and non-violent conflict resolution with others.

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