This time of year in Sweden it is very dark and cold. In the darkness of despair, snow falls and illuminates the night and the cloudy days. The snow brings peace and quiet to my frozen soul. When I gather with my family at Christmas Eve and drink hot chocolate and do nothing but spend time with them, I feel truly blessed and there is nowhere I would rather be. In that moment I feel eternal peace and harmony and love. So much love for life and for our beautiful world. I wish to extend that moment all over the world and include all my fellow brothers and sisters in my celebration of life – because that is what Christmas means to me.
Today I light a candle in dark times, not only in Sweden, but in the lives of Palestinian people. I light a candle of hope and solidarity in your name. May peace fall upon you as driftly as the snow on the streets of Sweden; and cover your anguished souls and blood drenched streets; and that no candles will be necessary any more…
This Swedish Christmas song makes my message clearer: Light a candle and let it burn, don’t ever lose hope, it looks dark now, but it will become lighter again.
I was very sad to read that Palestinian prisoners have been tortured in their own prisons (http://tinyurl.com/3xq7mmj); in my view, it brings a new dimension to the peace process in Palestine-Israel. As I see it, peace is a matter of human rights, meaning equality and respect for every human beign. War is always – correct me if I’m wrong – a fight over power, whether it is the power to rule or to have. The power is then abused, the two (or more) sides don’t treat eachother as equals, with the equal right to live and to wellbeing. It is as simple and as hard as to respect eachothers’ human rights, many times.
Human rights is acting on the beautiful words great thinkers have repeated through the history of mankind. We can’t just talk about equality, we need to act in the name of equality. When someone is tortured, he/she has no power and is not being treated as an equal to the one who tortures him/her. In some sense it is like making war on a small scale, one individual on another. Or rather abusing, though the victim has no power to defend himself/herself.
As I see it, Israel abuse their power against the Palestinian, who have little power to defend themselves. But how can Abbas defend the Palestinian position as an occupied, violated nation when he uses the same dirty tools against his own? Of course every nation has its’ dubble standards, but in a peace process it is important to have peace at home before there shall be peace in the streets.
When I talk about Israel-Palestine, I don’t mean to take side for anything else but peace. At the moment though, Israel has most power in the conflict and Palestinian are oppressed, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank, in Israel (only jewish as I understand it have full citizenship), but also in the Arab countries surrounding where they fled during the early wars. For that reason I chose to support Palestinian in there struggle for peace, while I condemn terror and antisemitism – ironically both jews and arabs are semitic, to be correct.
I believe the Israel-Palestine conflict isn’t only a question of bombing, but of discrimination and violation of human rights, that is why I take action for the palestinian rights. Next weekend KRF – a christian peace organization in Sweden – will hold a course enlightening how power relations and social categories – as class, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation – create violence. In the same way I believe that power relations can create peace, if they create equal opportunities in life and a society of tolerance and respect.
Mahnaz Afkhami, who spoke on the HR-days in Örebro, talked about changing the architecture of human relations. As I understand it, she criticised the patriarchal power relations, meaning they should be exchanged into equal power relations. The point as I see it, is that patriarchal power relations mean men oppress women, in the same way the Palestinian are oppressed by Israeli army. I take part for the oppressed in the spirit of equality and the belief that every person is born free and equal.
Palestinian are born free, but where is there freedom now?
First of all, I lament the fact that the voice of the two norwegian doctors who operated on Al Shifa hospital during the Gaza war 2008, weigh more or the same as whole of Gazas’ population. It is wrong, but it is sadly the world we live in today. I would instead like to dedicate my entry to the insightful speech of Dr. Erik Fosse on his seminar “Eyes in Gaza”, which is also the name of the book he has released together with Dr. Mads Gilbert.
This is not a resumé of Erik Fosses’ speech, but rather a reflection on his significant work, not as a doctor, but as a human rights activist. What stroke me most about his speech, was the way he revealed Israeli warfare. He witnessed about bombs who have high accuracy of reaching their aim, which all hit children – my question to Israel is how could this be a part of the war against Hamas? Then he testified about a UN-school where palestinian children and adults had seeked safety (putting faith in the peaceful message of the UN), which was bombed three days after Hamas had shot from the same school. If you have some insight in the high control Israel keeps on Gaza, it seems highly uncertain that Hamas would even stay an hour after shooting in the building. It seems hard to justify.
I have always found it very sad that the jewish state of Israel from the moment it was declared, has acted similarly against palestinian as the nazis acted against the jews. Today palestinian are called cockroachers and “fucking arabs”, in a way of demeaning the palestinians human values in the same way jews have been demeand of their values throughout history. When Erik Fosse reached the Al Shifa hospital the palestinian came to him in astoneshment saying: “You’re not gonna let us die? West cares for us?” I can’t even imagine how agonying it must be to have been trapped in Gaza with bombs raining according to Israels’ weather broadcast. Mustn’t the jewish concentration camp detainees have asked themselves the same, when the ashes of their fellow brothers and sisters rained down on them? The difference is that the jewish holocaust is history, while the palestinian situation is our present. We can’t change history, but we can change what happens now. We owe it to the palestinian to at least acknowledge what they go through, being pieces in a political game beyond our understanding (I have my beliefs, but I can’t claim to have the truth). We owe it to the palestinian to testify about their hardships, as Erik Fosse does, in hope to bring about a change.
The war in Palestine/Israel is a question of human rights and attitudes against one another, peace can only come when palestinian are treated with human rights. After all, the violent opposition from Palestinian are mainly due to the oppression of the Israeli state. If palestinian would be able to enjoy their human rights, I believe they (not that all of them do even today) wouldn’t put their faith in violence, but in their own ability to make a change. Dispair brings violence, hope brings peace.
Sometimes I feel I am only writing, not contributing to human rights. After two days of human rights promotion in Örebro, my heart can have some rest. Of course I didn’t do a great deal, I simply participated, helped out by volunteering and showed my support for human rights – whoever the human beign may be (it is not as obvious as it may seem). But I think this is also important, to exchange experiences, to learn how we can make a change. To make a change we need a forum where ideas from all over the world can meet. As far as I know Iran, China, Palestine, Nigeria, Nicaragua, EU, USA, India, Belarus and more were represented in one form or another. Also the great diversity within Sweden was to be seen. Above all, the people who has seen human rights violations – meaning they have not looked away from the reality of things – and still managed to laugh and smile, encouraged me to continue the struggle for human rights.
As you understand, there was a great spread of ideas and thoughts on human rights, but there was common ground to stand on, to stand together. Our common ground is that everyone on the convent agreed that we face great challenges in human rights struggles, but there is still hope; keeping in mind that the UN declaration on human rights is only 60 years old, we – mankind – have achieved alot, knowing there is alot more to be achieved.
I especially address my gratefulness to the inspiratory ex-minister of equality in Iran Mahnaz Akfkhami who was very humble and joyful in her speech of changing the architecture of human relations; as well as doctor Erik Fosse who operated in Gaza during the war 2008 and who’s words made me realise even more about the hardships of the palestinian people.
Thank you for this opportunity to new inspiration and hope!
Some condemn Palestinian acts of violence against Israelis, some say “why can’t they just be peaceful?”, never crossing their mind how peaceful they themselves would be with a gun in their face. I’m not saying that all Palestinian are violent nor that those who are, have the right to be so. But I can’t condemn the violent acts of an oppressed group of people. Would you lie down peacefully if someone hit you?
In my eyes, the righteous way is always the non-violent way, but the Palestinian are under so much pressure, they’re bound to explode. Rather than seeing the violent acts of throwing stones, I see the peaceful acts of men, women and children queuing under inhumane circumstances to get to school and work daily. Instead of seeing all suicide bombs, I see Palestinian youth doing all they can to get a university degree and help build peace by helping their community.
Maybe my headline is misleading, I have no plans on throwing stones and I don’t agree with throwing stones, but I realise how hard it must be to remain peaceful under great oppression.
So let’s not condemn, let’s instead contribute with all our peaceful acts and let them spread like rings in the water. Let us celebrate existing non-violence movements, such as the global BDS (Boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestine) movement by not buying occupation. (http://www.bdsmovement.net/)
Although my intentions are good in helping less fortunate outside of Sweden, my ancestors lay a dark “colonial” (Sweden wasn’t actually a colonial state although I have visited a slave fort in Ghana which was owned by Sweden for a couple of years) shadow upon the hand I reach out. Whatever I do, I will always be a privileged girl from west who has drawn advantage from others disadvantage, solely through history and the way society is organized today. Malcolm X says something like you don’t have the fault for the slavery, but you have the fault for drawing advantage from it, referring to how African americans still being discriminated although they supposedly have the same rights as white Americans. Although those are not his exact words, I applaude him for his input, we shall never forget where we come from nor forget where it has brought us today.
When I leave my comfort zone in Sweden with like-minded people all talking about how the ‘poor African kids don’t have food on their table’, I bear in mind who I am and where I come from. I don’t want to be a ghost of a colonial missionary, helping the “‘poor Africans’ who can’t help themselves”. Instead I want to show my support in their struggle and lend a hand if they reach for it. I believe in local competence as the first hand solution to the problems of this world. Outside competence should only be supportive and helpful when called upon.
As for the struggle that keeps most of my mind occupied, I dwell on how to help my Palestinian friends. I would more than anything want to stand by their side and demand dignity, but there is a problem – I am not on their side of the wall, I don’t know how it feels to not only visit but live there lives, I will never feel what they feel, and it’s not my dignity to demand.
But I can draw advantage of my position. I read an article about how international activists can be some kind of ‘human shields’ for the Palestinian in their demonstrations, because the Israeli military would never dare – of course there have been exceptions – hurting international activists. It is the sad truth that I am more likely to be protected by international law than Palestinians, but that will be my contribution as soon as I make it to Palestine/Israel to demonstrate in the name of peace and human rights alongside the real strugglers.
The bottom line is we all have something to contribute in the struggle for peace and human rights in the world, we may just have different roles.
Salam u aleikum! Free Palestine!