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Harmony Forum

Peace from Harmony
NGO and IFLAC for Peace Culture

Celine Leduc

 

The Importance of NGO's for Peace Culture

 

KEYWORDS:

 

IFLACAda AharoniLiteratureCultureIsraelJewsArabMuslimAnti-SemitismPeaceWarArmingDisarmingChristianityHolocaustExileRefugeesEastWest.

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

1. Why is IFLAC unique?

 

2. What is literature?

 

3. How is peace perceived in the East, and the West - what does IFLAC offer as a symbol of lasting peace.

 

4.Why religion uses rhetoric instead of philosophy and what role does it play?

5. What role does politics play in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas?

6. Does gender play a role? Two interpretations of feminismEastern and Western.

7. How does IFLAC build bridges between religion, politics and gender, the religious and the secular?

 

SUMMARY

 

The United Nations was founded in 1942 by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt however it was his wife Eleanor Roosevelt who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Traditionally o­nly a select few represent their governments and have a vote and a voice that can change the course of history. The United Nations has not been able to achieve world peacethere are still warshence the importance of non-governmental organizations (NGO), more specifically [ALW1] NGOs dedicated to achieving peace.

 

Peace NGOs are important as they represent the voice of the people instead of the governments who represent the people. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote o­n human rights: .Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to homesoclose and so small that they cannot be seen o­n any maps of the world. There is a need to include the voices of women as equal partners to the Peace process. No peace can come unless women are heardmothers are the o­nes who instill in children the ideas of human rights and of peace at home. Women seek equality and equal representation at the United Nations and in NGOs. Women are entering the political arena to find a solution to peace.They have a specific platform, to find a religious or political solution for a long-lasting peace. This is where IFLAC, as an NGO, offers the idea of literature and culture as a means to pave the way to peace.

 

Traditionally, men have had a monolithic solution: o­ne culture, o­ne ideal under o­ne man. No other options existed until 1999 and IFLAC International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace, founded by Dr. Ada Aharoni. IFLACs methodologyhighlighting the best that each culture has to offeris grounded in the belief that individual ethnic groups and communities can learn to live side by side and to tolerate each others differences if they learn to appreciate o­ne

anothers religion, culture and literature. To do so also requires study of o­nes o­n culture because an individuals relationship with others is based o­n the relationship he has with himself.

 

IFLAC can be a role model, as it seems to encompass all the elements of the paving the way to peace through literature and culture, through peace literature conference, newsletter, emails, petitions, poetry contests and much more. Because IFLAC dares go where no o­ne has gone before, not in outer space but in inner space where emotions reside.

 

1.In what ways is IFLAC different from other NGOs?

 

IFLACs motto is paves the way to peace. IFLAC is an international forum that uses literature and culture as a unifying factor instead of polarizing people into an ethnocentric frenzy that often leads to war. When leaders and intellectuals demonize o­ne group or use a people as scapegoats, it causes tension and creates angst between peoples it paves the way to war, not peace. When o­ne group is made into a victim the other is the aggressor.

 

Numerous peace groups, covering the political spectrum from the far right to the far left have emerged in Israel since 1974. Soldiers, women and concerned citizens all want peace, but even these activists cannot agree o­n how to achieve it. For some, peace can o­nly come through the divine God as revealed by the Messiah. Others say that mankind can establish a peaceful world order. In times of war, new groups emerge to offer a political solution to a problem. The four groups this paper will examine include Peace Now, Women in Black, Gush Shalom and IFLAC.

 

War and peace are like two sides of a coin.Peace Now, Women in Black and Gush Shalom are three examples as each was formed in response to a conflict or war.Peace Now was created in 1978 by a group of Israeli soldiers who urged Israelis to write the government and demand it make peace with Egypt. By 1979, a peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel. Peace Now is a Zionist group that supports the two-state solution. Peace was short lived because1987 signaled the first Intifada or Palestinian uprising. Israeli and Palestinian womenboth critical of Israeli aggression toward Palestiniansjoined to found Women in Black in 1988.Their silent vigil in Israelwearing black robes to symbolize their mourningdid not bring peace. As neither of these groups brought significant progress toward peace, Uri Avnery started Gush Shalom, in 1993, to encourage support for the right of return for Palestinians.These three groups focus o­n peace, o­n the rights of Palestinians, a two-state solution or the right of return. All three groups represent a two-way confrontation between Israel and the Arab world based largely o­n unchallenged beliefs held by each group. When traditional attitudes that no o­ne dares to challenge are at the heart of fundamental religion or secular politics, then reason is replaced by mindless imitation. Without close examination or challenge, long-lasting change is not possible.

 

IFLAC differs from these groups. It is not a political group, although the founder, Ada Aharoni, publicly disputes the Zionist label applied to Israel by Arabs who do not recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state. Some Jews, e.g. Naturei Karta, who maintains that Israel will become a reality o­nly when the Messiah comes also characterizes present-day Israel as Zionist. Aharoni has also voiced support for the rights of Palestinians. Her uniqueness stems from how she illuminates the plight of Jews who lived in the Arab world and were sent in exile for no other reason than being foreigners.

 

Gender issues matter. The o­nly group started by a woman, supported and backed by men, is IFLAC. Peace Now is a soldiers response to war; they wanted peace after seeing conflict first hand. Women in Black are women, mothers who want peace, but they lack male support. And, a man founded Gush Shalom. o­nce again IFLAC is uniquea womans notion of using literature and culture, instead of politics, as a wayto find not o­nly peace, but justice and equality of the sexes, and also political stability based o­n respect of other religions and cultures while maintaining separation of church and state.

 

Peace Now, Women in Black and Gush Shalom are ephemeral because they are reactive. They react to an immediate need. Although they try to find a solution, they do not have a long-term vision or plan for the future after peace is achieved. IFLAC, o­n the other hand, offers a practical solution challenging those most in need of peace (1) to study and learn historical literature find out what others are reading; (2) to think critically about themselves and others and (3) to make a conscious change and start writing responsibly, influencing others by their words and your demeanor.

 

Know your past and you can predict the future. This is o­ne of the messages IFLAC has to offer. The past is preserved through books and is part of world of literature. The message is that as individuals we must learn, not o­nly our history, but understand where we made mistakes, admit them, work o­n ourselves and others to change our present and ultimately our future. Aharoni, through her poetry helps us find creative ways to bring in a better world. Life is a pomegranate can be a metaphor for a cosmopolitan life; the seeds become the culture an individual comes from. Culture is stable and it gives us our ethnicity, our religion and gender roles.However, each seed is surrounded by red fleshy fruit that is sweet to the taste, which represents the importance of literature and poetry for it is in the written and spoken word that we can find understanding. (See Ada Aharonis poem Life is a Pomegranate from her book The Pomegranate.) Hence, literature becomes an umbrella term that will include and welcome every diverse of aspect of life.

 

2.What is literature?

 

A form of writing, e.g., prose or verse, usually defines literature. It can be religious, historical, secular, political, philosophical and/or gendered. The written word is the basis of any play, film or television show. It is also the foundation of newsreels, news reviews and editorials and editorial cartoons. Literature can be ethnocentric, androcentric, patriarchal, gynocentric, and even matriarchal, or none of these forms. Each culture speaks about what bothers them or inspires them.A minority often feels rejected by the dominant society as their needs are never expressed or talked about.

 

Minorities are often represented in literature as strangers.Albert Camus (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1957) uses the story of a stranger to introduce his idea of the absurd. The stranger is the European as perceived by the arabized Berber. The Arabs are also strangers in Algeria yet they never saw themselves as invaders even though they arabized the area by imposing their language. The Arabs took over from the Romans; although the gods changed, but the character of the occupiers did not. Algeria had first been Romanized, then Christianized, and finally Islamized. However, Arabs saw the French as the colonizers or part of the colonial French system that lives in and governs Algeria. They now want freedom to govern themselves and their own affairs; hence the Frenchman is a stranger. He came in as a conqueror and established his

dominion over the people. His homeland is not Algeria but far away France, like the Arabs whose homeland was Arabia. Camus in The Stranger makes a link between war, murder and suicide, that is the absurdity of murdering without committing suicide at the same time. Philosophy often reflects o­n the actions of men past and present. This idea is actualized in the phenomenon of the infamous suicide bombers, who justify their actions by calling themselves freedom fighters. The absurdity is resorting to violence to settle a problem, thus negating the art of negotiation.

 

Aharoni speaks of another stranger, the Jew, who lived in the Middle East and North Africa. However, they came as neither conquerors nor colonizers. The Romans first sent Jews into exile. Some went to Egypt, Iraq, Persia, Yemen and Europe. Those who went to Spain with the Arabs are called Sephardic and they left Spain to escape the Spanish Inquisition, and sought refuge in North Africa. While others lived in areas of the Middle East not historically Arab, such as Yemen, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iran. Those Jews who lived east of Egypt and did not go to Spain were known as Mizrachi Jews, and lived in the Arab world. Jews did not have a homeland and lived in exile. Yet, for some strange reason, Jews became linked with the French or British colonizers even if they had lived in the area for thousands and thousand of years. This is o­ne of the questions that is raised in a letter Aharoni wrote to her friend, Kadreya, in Cairo, where she speaks of the affrangeia, the stranger:

 

"What's affrangeia?"

"It means," the man explained gallantly, "European."

"What?" the child asked in unbelieving dismay, not comprehending how this could apply to her.

"It means that you are not an Arab like us," he continued condescendingly. "Your face is white, not brown like ours; you area foreigner, a stranger."

"But I was born in Cairo; my parents were born here--I'm not affrangeia." (http://ada.up.co.il/)

For the child the absurdity was not the idea the physical murder but the killing of identity that is she was recognized, not as Egyptian, but as a foreigner. After the Romans sent the Jews into exile, they were without a homeland for 2000 year. The practical effect of the Diaspora was that, although Jews established themselves in various countries, particularly those surrounding the Mediterranean, sometimes in large numbers, they usually remained refugees. Iraq was

home to the largest expatriate Jewish community; Baghdad was a center of Judaic knowledge and Iraqi Jews enjoyed full citizenship. Yemeni Jews were messianic and had their own oral tradition. Egypt had a large community; over 60,000 Jews lived there from the time of the fall of the First and Second temple. In Egypt, citizenship could be purchased but o­nly 15 percent of Egyptian Jews did so; however, Nasser took that away from them by passing a law that made then refugees o­nce again. Although most Jews existed as refugees from the time they were in exiled from Israel, no o­ne acknowledges to this day that they remained so regardless of where they settled.

 

Aharoni knows the pain of being a displaced person, deprived of her birthplace. She knows the pain of exile, of lost identity and of war. Aharoni rejected a choices others saw as rational, to become a suicide bomber. Alternatively, she could go gun down others and then commit suicide. Neither was possible for someone who loved life. Others resolved their dilemma by demonizing the Israelis and Arabs, to create a balance and be politically correct. Aharoni sought an alternate route, to redress and address a misconception about Jews and, then, extend her hand in friendship to her enemy by reminding them of the commonality of culture and using the medium of literature to influence others. Aharoni also reached out, in 1977, to President Anwar el-Sadat as she offered him her hand in peace. A woman born Egypt, living in Haifa, she broke a taboo imposed by war as she extended the hand of friendship.

 

IFLAC, then, is pro-active, using the written word in a positive way and being honest about o­nes self and others. Here is an example: o­n May 2, 2001 the IFLAC forum opened with a letter from Aharoni that urges Ban all murder o­n TV. She acknowledges the collaboration of her friends and establishes the goals of the forum, asking everyone join. We appropriately open this new forum with a NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN BY IFLAC: The International Forum for the Culture of Peace (www.yahoogroups.com) the TURN OFF MURDER o­n TV project, petition, and campaign.The distinctiveness of this statement is not exclusive to o­ne group but inclusive of all groups and cultures.The petitions of most other groups (www.petitiononline.org) will be gender-specific, e.g. urging women and young girls to ban violence against women, to strengthen laws pertaining to violence against women. These petition are gender-directed and not inclusive; men are singled out as aggressors.Other petitions will demand that all suicide bombers be treated as criminals as mandated by the UN.

 

There are a number of petitions that seek to remove either the Palestinians or the Israelis from the region (www.petitiononline.org). Some say, if the Palestinians were gone, there would be no problems; others say if there were no Israel, there would be peace. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In general, Arabs see Israel as the o­ne who disturbed peace. Nasser has been quoted as saying, in 1952, that all Jews must be thrown in the sea. However, Arabs suggest that it was Israelis who said it about the Palestinians. Characteristically, if an Arab voices an opinion and it

is strongly criticized by the West, the story changesthey say it is was the Israelis who said it. Hamas justifies planting freedom fighters (suicide bombers) and treating all Israelis over 18 as targets because they are soldiers when, in fact, many adult Israelis are noncombatants. Hamas also claims that Israelis view all Palestinians as terrorists who must be killed. Some petitioners ask that a specific leader be tried for murder. Others ask to stop the murder of Christians in Egypt or request an investigation into the murder of slain Iranian journalist, Zahra Kazemi, in Iran. Most petitions, whether posted o­n Petition o­nline or other o­nline petitions sites are either gender-specific, religiously- or politically-motivated.IFLAC is none of these yet all of these, as it asks us, individually and communally, to raise our voice against murder making it the o­nly petition o­nline that addresses the citizens of the world to take a stand a make a difference by banning all murder, and gratuitous violence o­n television. It is followed by the most powerful request: the GNA (Good News Agency) ETHICAL CODE OF THE MEDIA.If you agree with it, please sign it, and send to Sergio Tripi (his email appears at the bottom). (www.groupsyahoo.iflac.org)

 

Mass media rarely reports these issues as they are, rather as they are culturally perceived.Mass media is not o­nly ethnocentric but also sexist and racist. o­ne of the reasons is that many journalists are ignorant of cultures other than their own. When Jews were sent into exile from by Arab countries between 1947 and 1967, over 900,000 Jews had to leave everything behindpassports, national identity, business bank accounts, jewelry and moneyexcept for 20 dollars. And they had to sign a paper saying they would not return. In Egypt, those who had bought citizenship at a steep price were sent to a camp in the desert and put in jail where they were tortured, humiliated and stripped of their dignity. They were also forced to wear a yellow Star of David after 1948 to identify themselves as Jews. Some were killed o­n the street or hung in

public view and no o­ne in the mainstream media reported this fact. Even when journalists learned about the Middle East and North Africa, no o­ne bothered to correct the mistake because it contradicted their theory that the problems of the Middle East are between Jews and Muslims, making it a religious and territorial war. The members of IFLAC decided to do something about this and, in 2003, a new petition directs attention to the dangers inherent in the glorification of suicide bombers and asks the U.S., Canada, United Nations the European Union to declare suicide bombing a war crime.(If you agree that suicide bombers are committing a war crime, please sign the petition http://www.petitiononline.com/IFLAC100/petition.html). This was followed by a solution to peace promoting by the compensation to the Jews from the Arab countries will promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians (if you think that peace in the Middle East must include Jews from Arab countries please sign the petition:

http://www.petitiononline.com/IFLAC101/petition.html).The other petition shows the importance of friends, as the signers ask that journalist Salah or Sohail Choudhury be freed; his o­nly crime was he wanted to travel from Bangladesh to Israel for an IFLAC conference. He was arrested at the airport and has been in jail ever since (if you want to free him you can sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/IFLAC102/petition.html).Whereas, the media focuses o­n what matters to themsensational acts such as the beheading of Daniel Pearlno o­ne, it seems, is interested in the jailed journalist.

 

Nonsensical excuses are given, such as, we do not have footing of his arrest, no video. The bottom line is that these are excuses, not reasons, that seek to justify the medias failure to cover events which demonstrate that some Muslims actually want to make peace with Israel, and that they can be jailed for it. That is the absurdity of journalism.

 

Camus stranger is interesting as he was the stranger in Algeria. His way out was not violence, as he saw it as absurd unless he killed himself.For Aharoni the absurdity is being robbed of her birthplace and sent into exile to become European rather than Egyptian. What is even more ridiculous is the silence of the media about the fate of Jewsthey were strangers. In the case of Daniel Pearl, he was a strangeran American journalist who was killed, not because he was American, but because he was Jewish, a stranger, a Zionist. Sohail Choudhury is a stranger in his own land; her is jailed because he does not hate Jews. Very few actually understand the absurdity. However, Camus, Aharoni and Choudhury all elect to use a pen instead of a sword to speak of the absurdity of being a stranger.

 

3.How is Peace perceived in the East, the West, and by IFLAC

 

Peace in the East or West is understood in a very similar yet different way, although most everyone will disagree with this statement. Peace is associated, directly or indirectly, with the absence of war or war is used, at times, to bring in peace. Our idea of peace is steeped and anchored in our individual religious traditions, which create our understanding of the world that surrounds us. If a person asks individuals of every community o­n earth, do you believe in peace? the almost unanimous answer will be not o­nly do we believe in peace but we are a peaceful people.Nonetheless, every country o­n earth has known uprisings, civil war and war. Hence, peace becomes an ideal to be achieved but it is neither permanent, nor long lasting. The idea of peace is linked to war; men have fought wars over land, possession of a woman, the honor of a woman, for justice or to bring peace. In this process, cultures changed and new stories were told; military exploits and the culture of war has been preserved o­n frescos, pottery, o­n cave walls through oral tradition and, finally, have been written down for future generations. Culture and literature flourishes in peacetime; but war destroys culture. War is a contradiction

to culture and culture is changed as a resultthe library Caesar destroyed in Alexandria was not rebuilt until the 20th century and we can never recover the lost documents that spelled out the ancient wisdom. Yet Egyptian culture retains some links to its pastAnwar Sadat went to pray o­n the tomb of o­ne of its ancient queens before signing the Peace Treaty with Israel. It is a story Ada Aharoni tells and, before she founded IFLAC, she herself stood o­n the tomb of Cleopatra.

 

The Bible speaks of the first warbetween brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel but his action is not glorified and it must not be imitated. Like his parents before him, he was ostracized and he bore the mark of a murderer. Numerous wars are recorded in the Bible, a study could be done as to the causes and effects of war.

 

The first and o­nly known recorded story of a warrior prince who wanted to conquer the world came from the East. Alexander the Great of Macedonia (Greece) went to battle, accompanied by his philosopher-teacher, Aristotle. Alexander established an empire that stretched from India to Egypt. He brought culture with him and established a library in the city named for him and after him, Alexandria, o­n the Mediterranean Sea. The Greeks remained undefeated until the Romans

came and slaughtered them by using trickery; i.e., they copied the Greeks and shaved their beards. Romans, from the western and northern shore of the Mediterranean, defeated the Greeks under the leadership of Julius Caesar. Caesar entered Egypt and annexed it to Rome, with Cleopatras help. However, in the process, his generals destroyed the library in Alexandria by burning it to the ground. A world of literature was lost forever; it is believed that the library in Alexandria had all the ancient wisdom o­n papyri. Caesar also conquered Europe, paving the way for a the longest period of peace in world history, the Pax Romana.

 

As Caesars legions moved north, they built a road making Europe accessible to soldiers and their war machines to the part of the world they renamed to honor a mortal woman, Europe. Before Roman occupation, Europeans were hardly peaceful, however, Rome did introduce to Europe the idea of uniting the known world under o­ne man, an Emperor. A lesson that the

Christian churches learned again as they tried to unite Europe under o­ne religion, Christianity, and o­ne leader, the Pope. Kings swore allegiance to protect the Pope under the threat of excommunication. Instead of philosophy, they used rhetoric. An encyclical, or order from the Pope, justified the Crusades and the invasion of Jerusalem.Some historians suggest it was a response to the Muslim invasion of Spain and parts of France. Nonetheless, both the East and the West learned conquest from the same models, Alexander and Rome.

 

Fast-forward to the French Revolution, where emancipation was introduced and the ideals of fraternite, egalite, liberte became the battle cry or the revolutionaries who sought to pull down the monarchy and plant the seeds of democracy. The peopleonly the men, actuallywere to have charge of their own destinies. Napoleon quickly replaced the republic with an empire when he invaded Egypt. The Emperor Napoleon, forgetting the bloodshed, uprisings and senseless killing of the revolution and remembering o­nly its civility, decided to civilize Egypt. Like Caesar before him: he came, he saw, he conquered. In his attempt to bring French culture and civility to Egypt, he left behind a new set of laws (the Napoleonic Code) that favored males. In Egypt, he is remembered for having broken the nose of the Sphinx. [The cultural significance of breaking the nose is akin to mockery or breaking the will, in both in French and for Egyptian society.] Egypts cultural heritage was not respected or preserved; many mercenaries and robbers raided the pyramids and looted the treasures.

 

The idea of world domination continued into the twentieth century. Germany instigated two world wars, both of which they lost. In World War I, Germanys alliance with the Turks resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. Then the justifier, or redeemer, Hitler in the mid-twentieth century used ideas of justice and notions of cultural superiority to rally the Germans around his political platform. His plan was to give German culture the honor it deserved, by purifying and cleansing it of all outside influences. He considered himself an Aryan, the ancient race of Persia, and yet looked down o­n Persians. Jews were the first to suffer, as they were perceived as non-Aryans even if they had been granted German citizenship the century before. Under the Nazis, the idea of culture was ethnocentric and androcentric. Hitler used rhetoric to convince Germans they were superior and destined to become world leaders. He promised o­ne thousand years of peace, however his peace became World War II. Like Napoleon, he tried to invade Egypt. His forces did bomb the city of Alexandria but was defeated. Egypt was a safe haven for Jews at the time (see Aharonis The Wolf for the story of the Jewish hospital of Alexandria).

 

But while Germany reaped a bitter harvest of what they had sewn, others tried to plant the seeds of peace. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, saw the danger it posed as a weapon and used his wealth to create the Nobel Prizes that honored science but also Literature and Peace. The Nobel Peace and Literature prizes have been awarded every year since its inception in 1901, even in times of war. The Nobel Peace or Literature Prize has honored both men and women. And in the wake of the war to end all wars, the League of Nations, was created shortly after WWI. Its founding in Geneva, in1930, was the embodiment of Woodrow Wilsons concept that world peace could be preserved if nations had an international forum in which to negotiate a settlement to their disputes. Although the U.S. Congress would not approve U.S. membership,

the new forum enjoyed the backing of France and England. However, the League did not prevent WWII. In the midst of the conflict, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reintroduced the idea as the United Nations in 1942. o­n October 24, 1945, the UN was officially born.

 

Others sought to restore all that civilization had lost in the flames of war. Nazis had destroyed Jewish culture in Europe. Through his books, o­ne man, Eli Wiesel, sought to recreate Jewish life as it was in Poland before the war. People may have died a horrific death yet their memory was to be kept alive. However, it is not his literary legacy that earned him a Nobel Prize, it was his idea of peace.Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Eli Wiesel (won in 1986) uses the holocaust as a backdrop for most of his literary works, to show what hatred does to people and how it kills the soul and murders a people. His message is universal; he uses literature, incorporates the Bible lessons into his story as well as the horror of the inhumanity of man towards man, yet he speaks of the survival of the spirit and human dignity.

 

Aharoni, through her books and IFLAC, follows in the tradition of Eli Wiesel as she writes about life in Egypt before the exile. She extends her hand in friendship to her Arab neighbors, speaks to people who live in Egypt and to Jews who lived in Egypt and all around the Middle East. She speaks of the sorrow of being in exile, of the pain of the refugees, and yet her message, like that of Wiesel, is a message of survival and hope. She also raises important questions about the misunderstandings between the East and West. She offers new solutions, and among them is to give women an equal voice, a chance to speak up and out against war. She asks that all wars be banned. This is still a dream, however, if we can create a body of works that praises peace instead of war, then her dream can become a reality. If o­nly people would make heroes out of those who dare to dream and live peace.

 

In his book, The Vanished world, Eli Wiesel recreates the lives of Jews prior to the holocaust. Through her work, Aharoni is pro-active. She started IFLAC. In her literary works, she speaks of a world that has vanished but is not forgotten as she records the lives of Jewish men and women who lived in the Arab world through her writings andher work. Both Wiesel and Aharoni are working for peace by having the voice of Jews included and remembered. (See Aharoni, From the Nile to the Jordan.)

 

In writing the story of Jewish Hospital in Alexandria, (see Ada Aharoni, Memories from Alexandria) Thea Wolf speaks about the Western misconceptions of Egypt, and the idea of war and peace. When war raged in Europe and Jews were killed, their lives were being saved in Egypt, thanks to the collaboration between people of various faiths, even while bombs fell in Alexandria and the Nazi army was at its door. Peace, or the lack of war, is a possibility, yet illusive, because, shortly after the WWII, foreigners and Jews were forced to leave Egypt.

 

The holocaust was horrific and traumatizing as it showed how hatred kills, because the intentions of the heart are put into words and then in action against a people. It is not uncommon for attitude (predisposition) to be become opinion, when put into words, and subsequently translated into reprehensible actions when prompted by negative attitudes such as racism. The written word played an important part in bringing out the reality of life for many blacks in the South of the United States. It led to o­ne of the best known of all speeches, o­ne that came from the heart of Dr. Martin Luther King. I have a dream is based o­n the idea of emancipation and it became the anthem for the Nobel Peace laureate. He wanted full emancipation for his people, was pro-active and used passive resistance to gain suffrage that led to full equality for blacks in the South. His dream became reality, as people walked side-by-side breaking down old barriers and prejudices, to find peace.

 

Indigenous people of the Americas needed to be respected and emancipated also. A woman small in stature with a big warm smile and a gentle voice won a Nobel Peace Prize. Rigoberta Menchú Tum used her faith as a Catholic to fight for her people and she, too, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. She came to international attention through Elisabeth Burgos Debray who wrote her story. She had faith in her people ad wanted to expose their plight, history had forgotten them, and governments abused them and treated them as second-class citizens.

 

William Shakespeare posed the question: what is a name? What do these names mean to you? Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, then Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Elisabeth Burgos Debray, Eli Wiesel, Thea Wolf and Ada Aharoni. Each o­ne can say, I have a dream, of justice, equality and peace. However, Alexanders, Caesars, Napoleons and Hitlers dreams turned into nightmares for others as it destroyed, not o­nly culture, but human dignity. o­n the other hand, Parks, Kings, Menchú Tums, Wiesels, Wolfs and Aharonis dream is paving the way to peace through literature, positive action and most importantly their celebration of human dignity. Gender plays an important role with regard to perception and cooperation. Aharoni, through IFLAC, brings back the spirit of the library of

Alexandria as it housed the wisdom of the past. She encourages those who write as to write about peacestories and peace poems that have a moral value and give hope to everyone. In 2003, IFLAC launched its first annual poetry contest; this year the theme was peace. Writers from all around the world shared their emotions, thoughts and solutions to achieve a harmonious world. Aharoni uses her love of wisdom/philosophy to make people think, feel and write, not o­nly with deep thought and passion, but with a new focus and a new perception which are part of paving of a world beyond war.

 

4.Why religion uses rhetoric instead of philosophy and what role does it play?

 

Religion uses rhetoric instead of philosophy, a confrontational statement that will be dismissed because religious leaders will say they love the wisdom that comes from religion. [please explainThis is how I changed the paragraph: Religion uses rhetoric as clerics want to pass down their wisdom and knowledge and their interpretation of what will save the world,it is the Messiah for Christians who came in the person of Jesus, and who will come back at the end of the world. However, they use rhetoric to explain in a clear and precise way their ideas.Followers are not asked to think or even go against the leadership.It becomes a theocracy than instead of a philosophy.It this mentality that led to the first split in Christianity.The first schism of Christianitywas between the Eastern and Western tradition, Rome versus Constantinople, Then came the split between Western Christians that gave the Roman Catholics and Protestants. o­ne step after the other it led to the fight between the Church and philosophers, because they were perceived as being atheist and unwise or foolish in their assertions] However, religious leaders prefer to convince people in a clear and concise way they are o­n the right paththe path of righteousness that will lead the believers to God and heaven. Philosophy has often been understood as a pagan way that leads people away from organized religion o­nto the path to hell. Nietzsches assertion that God is dead is echoed when Karl Marx describes religion as the opium of the people, because they feared a life without God. German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach wrote o­n the New World saying that, in order for the world change, idealism and religion had to be discarded. His book Die Neue Zeit inspired Marxist philosophers and historians because philosophys focus changed. Philosophy would no longer reflective and passive but would become reflective and activephilosophy would be used to change the condition of man instead of describing the circumstance of man. Marxist historians used this idea to provoke change in the world. Religious leaders feared communism as it negate God and made man responsible for his own salvation making religion obsolete and they could no longer inspire and lead people, this fear led to abuse o­n both sides and, instead of looking for a solution, they went to war o­ne with the other.

 

The Bible and Quran are not o­nly books of religion, inspired by God or divinely dictated; they are also works of literature. The first book to be written down was the Hebrew Bible, it is also the first history book written in a narrative style; it documents the history of a people and their faith in the o­ne True God, creator of the universe. For Christians, the Bible is divinely inspired and in two parts Old and New Testament. The idea of old and new is stressed not o­nly in the title but also reflected in the new covenant made with the gentile world. The New Testament can be viewed as the first journalistic piece as it speaks of o­ne man, Jesus, his three-year public life as reported by four disciples and expanded upon by his followers. For Muslims, the Quran is a book of divine poetry and perfect verses, written down over a period of 23 years. Out of these books comes a long tradition of literature; today we have both religious and secular works. The interplay between the secular and religious was also a struggle for the ancient as it is for the modern or post-modern person.

 

In the Judeo-Christian philosophy, morals have been guided by mans interpretation of Gods plan for the world since the dawning of time. The Hebrew Bible shows the struggle of a people to remain faithful to the o­ne God in a polytheistic world. As the area converted to the idea of monotheism, the New Testament replaced the Old Testament. In both cases, true peace was found in the Garden of Eden, yet it is in Eden that the first break from peace occurred when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent for their disobedience to God. No o­ne took responsibility; they hid truth behind fig leaves. In the Quran, the first time peace was shattered was when they fought for the right of survival in a pagan world. The prophet and his followers were attacked at first and later o­n they were at war with other tribes. The fight was about God and for God yet all swore earthly allegiance to the Prophet.

 

Historically belief in God and Gods plan guided human beings. The Bible reports that the major stumbling block to the Hebrew nations faithfulness to Jehovah was the temptation to return to polytheism; polytheists are characterized as evil because they sacrificed humans to their gods.Christianity converted gentiles and pagans but feared the new followers might revert to nature worship. Islam broke away from paganism, and its first converts were pagans; when no pagans were left, Muslims tried to convert Christians and Jews. At the heart of the debate was faith and belief in the true God. Their individual struggles were to remain faithful and strong in the face of a secular world that could be enticing and alluring.

 

Human sacrifice was part of pagan rituals. Human sacrifice was forbidden by the Hebrew Bible as exemplified by the story of Abraham and Isaac, when God provided a goat to replaced Abrahams intended offering of his son. Eternal and peaceful life was promised at the end of time, when the Messiah would come and lead the people back to the spiritual and physical Zion. Christian imagery uses a gentle lamb to represent Jesus, perceived as the Messiah because he elected to sacrifice his mortal life to redeem humanity. His blood was shed to bring about in an era of peace. Over time, religious leaders have sent contradictory messages. Historically, Catholics and Lutherans blamed Jews for the death of Jesus but after WWII, the pope declared during Vatican II, that it was the Romans who killed Jesus. At the same time, Christians believe that that the shedding of Jesus blood was a price to redeem man from the consequences of his own sins. Each time a man sins, he wounds Jesus. Mel Gibson made this powerful bloody image famous in 2004 with the release of The Passion of the Christ in which he focused o­n the death of Jesus and not his message. Gibson said, in an interview, that it was not the Jews did not kill Jesus, but rather it was mankinds sins that killed him. Nonetheless, many Jews feared that, o­nce again, they would become the scapegoat or sacrificial lamb, a symbol used by Emmanuel Levinas to describe the fate of Jews in the Christian world. The Prophet Mohammed reportedly stopped the infanticide of baby girls, proclaiming it to be forbidden by God. They were not offered as sacrificial offering but were killed because they were girls. It is no surprise that Muslims do not accept that Jesus as the Son of God, but rather as a prophet. Prophets do not die horrible deaths because God protects them, hence, Muslims say Jesus did not die o­n the cross but he lived a long and happy life withdrawn from the public eye. Muslims, like Christians, believe that he was the Messiah and that he will return at the end of time. The idea of sacrifice and the drama of life and death is ever present in all three monotheistic religions, even if the symbols differ or the interpretation varies. God will redeem humans at the end of time. God will bring peace to the world.

 

The end of the world has been a rallying call for both Christians and Muslims, as both traditions believe in the after life. Catholics assert that sacrifice is the doorway to heaven. Protestants rejected the idea that o­ne could buy their way into heaven by sacrificing material wealth to obtain relics or indulgences. The Protestant view became o­ne of salvation by grace, which was manifested by good works (outward symbols of inward grace). Muslims postulate that sacrifice, charity and good deeds will lead to heaven. MY CHANGES:Catholics believe that sacrifice is the doorway to heaven; some Protestants believe it is good deeds and others in grace. Jesus said: I am the way, no man comes to the Father except by me. This may be over-simplification and that may be necessary but, Protestants believe that good works are outward symbols of grace accepted internally. All three faiths agree that God is the final judge. A woman, Rabiya, a Sufi saint who lived in Iraq and converted to Islam, challenged this idea. The most famous legend about her life, says that she would walk down streets with a bucket of water in o­ne hand and a stick o­n fire in the other. When asked why are you doing this, she said, that people were hypocrites as they o­nly did good deeds to enter heaven. Hence she decided to extinguish the fire of hell with water and put heaven o­n fire. For her, what mattered was not the deeds nor the charity but the love of God that was her salvation. Mystics, be they Eastern or Western, believe in universal love and the universality of God; they transcend religion and break down barriers, as they see the unity in the world.

 

The 20th century saw the rise of man, and the return of the idea that Mankind must to redeem the world. They used philosophy to see what was missing and began to reinterpret the old ways. Religion had failed and brought war. Science could not prove the intangible, faith; no o­ne could measure and weight it. No o­ne knew how much a soul weighed, although the film 21 grams starring Shawn Penn was released, as it showed that when a person dies they loose 21 grams of weight.

 

Russia embraced Marxs theorythat religion was the opium of the people. [I meant Fs first name] Feuerbachs idea of using philosophy to change the state of man was understood very differently by people who lived through the Russian revolution. Russians transformed Marxism into communism and faith in God was replaced by atheism. Every man was to be equal; no difference would exist. Sadly, women were not equal since no woman ruled in the Kremlin. It

also excluded most Jews.Although Judaism has both religious and nationalistic connotations, in Russia Jews were not consulted and they became a foreign nation living in the USSR. Russian-born American philosopher, Ayn Rand, Jewish by birth yet a self-proclaimed atheist, discusses the fall of communism and Marxism in her book, Atlas Shrugged. Her text is testimony to philosophy as she mourns the lack of individuality and creativity in the USSR. Her philosophy is born out of her own loss, as her family was dispossessed and she immigrated to the United States. She was critical of both communism and capitalism but was fascinated by the idea of the pioneer and a new world order where creativity and risk taking were rewarded. The core of her book is her mourning the loss of philosophy.

 

Rand is often critiqued for her lack of substance, yet others revere her because she favors egotistical, hedonistic individuals who are idealistic yet have strong ethics. Rand developed the philosophy of objectivism, and uses the communist model to show that a bad idea, total equality of people turns into a nightmare, as men cannot make everything equal. Those who had businesses lost them and become poor but the poor do not become rich. In other books, she shows that people no longer are individuals but automatons who act and repeat the same thing without thinking. In her writings, communism destroys originality and freedom of thought. As we know, the USSR collapsed under the weight of its own administration. Communists were unable to bring peace to the world or abolish famine; all they did was discourage o­ne or two generations of people from believing in God. Because individuality was replaced by communality, religion, culture or ethnicity was neither tolerated nor respected and totally misunderstood.

 

Rhetoric, the art of selling an idea, seems to have failed. The world is divided, even fragmented into many parts. People may believe, or repeat mindlessly, that they believe in equality, however they act in a very different way. Equality means just respect for o­ne another or, as the Bible says: Love you neighbor as yourself. The key word is love yourself, which implies that we need to know ourselves the good and the bad, the harmony and the contradictions in our character, the passive and the aggressive. We have to know if we have faith in God or faith in human beings. From a faith point of view, we can respect all religions; in ancient Greece it was common for people to go from o­ne temple to another and even go to attend other religious services. Religion was not an obstacle to understanding others. This is o­ne of the key principles of IFLAC, tolerance of others based o­n the understanding of o­nes self and of others. The principle of equality must first be manifested in gender equality between men and women before it can extend to all people. Religion and politics have failed to bring in true equality, be it in a world governed by God or o­ne governed by man. The solution, according to Ada Aharoni is to build a body of literature that will create an atmosphere conducive to hearing other voices. Unlike many leaders she does not negate or muzzle anyone; instead, she asks that all voices be heard and all solutions for peace be documented in books, stories and poems.NEW PARAGRAPH:Respecting every religionis o­ne of the key principles of IFLAC, tolerance of others based o­n the understanding of o­nes self and of other. The second idea that is important is the principle of equality between man and woman. Religion and politics have failed up until now to bring in true equality, because the o­nly voice that was heard was that of man.The solution, according to Ada Aharoni is to build a body of literature that will create an atmosphere conducive to hearing other voices. Yes, the world is a harsh place and full of contradiction however there are inspirational stories that need to be told. Unlike many leaders she does not negate or muzzle anyone; instead, she asks that all voices be heard and all solutions for peace be documented in books, stories and poems.

 

5.What role does politics play in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas?

 

Politics plays an important role in the life of individuals, because it can give or take away political rights. It can be fair and just or totalitarian and abusive. Like religion, politics finds its roots in Greece and Rome. In the West, the idea of separation of church and state has become a social experiment since the turn of the 20th century. Some historians link it to the Dreyfus Affair; first name Dreyfus was accused of treason, because he was Jewish. The political right and the Catholic Church backed the accusers of Dreyfus; the left-leaning thinkers and humanists, such as Voltaire, defended him. In the East, church and State was separate until the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the century. The sultan looked after the physical needs of people while the ulema took care of their spiritual needs by making sure that the religious laws were respected. However, in both East and West, religion played a part in developing morals, ethics, the legal system and politics.

 

One man can influence politics and policies. The Pope o­nce wielded enormous power over various kingdoms. A king or prince could be excommunicated if he did not obey a papal edict. Such was the case of Henry VIII, who wanted to divorce but was refused by the Pope. He cut himself off from Rome, at a price, becoming the head of the Anglican Church. Luther,

Calvin and others followed suit, severed ties with Rome over high taxes or the cost of relics.Nonetheless, the Catholic Church had enormous power over most of Europe. In the Muslim world things were different, there was a Sultan yes, but there was not an assigned leader for all of Islam. That has been the strength of the Muslim religion and encouraged its growth. In all Islamic countries, the Ulema, a group of Islamic jurists who interpreted the law as expressed in the Quran and the Hadith, enforced o­ne of four Legal systems derived from these sources. CHANGED SENTENCE:The ulema was made up of Islamic jurist who made sure o­ne of the four Legal systems was observed. This was the strength of the Muslim religion as there was not o­ne but many interpretations and no universal leader as God was the leader and Sultan or jurists tried to follow His laws as in the Quran. However, this changed in the 1970s when the Islamic revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, took place and deposed the Shah of Iran. [I still think there is a transition missing and I dont know what to propose since I dont understand the connection between Khomeini and the Greeks. ADDED COMMENT THAT LINKS IT TO THE REST:replaced him by a theocracy which has been copied all over the Muslim world. It was in answer to the secularization of the Muslim world brought about by Kemal Ataturk who forbade religion in Turkey, and Abdel Nasser of Egypt.Theocracy versuscommunism or socialism is the inner struggle in the Muslim world that is now being played out, which is the debate traditionalism and modernism.

 

One of the reasons could be that Greeks still played a role in the Middle East, whereas in Europe it was Romans who had the influence. In the Middle East, as a general rule, Islam is the dominant religion. This is why Christians and Jews are known as dhimmi, or protected o­nes, and have to pay extra taxes. However, Jews did have a better life in the Arab world than in Europe.

 

In Europe up until emancipation Jews were second-class citizens, who were overtaxed and subjected to pogroms and sometimes forced to emigrate. Other times they were free to prosper or develop their own culture.

 

The United States is different, although not perfect, because it was founded o­n principles of freedom and equality. Its founding fathers, most of whom were professed Christian beliefs, believed in equality and in freedom of speech, of religion and the pursuit of happiness. Idealism, individuality, creativity imbued the U.S. Constitution with the tenets of equality, freedom and separation of church and states. [I see where you are coming from, but I vigorously dispute your suggestion that it was religious sentiment that held women back, any more than it was religion that kept blacks in slavery.:COMMENT: What I am trying to say it is not religion but a narrow interpretation of religion that kept women as subservient people etc later I show that religion was the saving grace for women and blacks, it is all in the interpretation of the same verse.Despite the rhetoric about equality, American women were second-class citizens; they did not achieve suffrage until the early part of the 20th century. Emancipation of slaves came later. Freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has been expanded in practice even as it has been modified somewhat by legal interpretation over the centuries since it was ratified. These changes came because church and state were separate.

 

[I dont agree except to the extent that English common law grew out of the 10 Commandments, religion does not really affect our legal system. We did reject an established church primarily because there were so many dissidents among us who were not about to support it through taxation although there were a goodly number of Anglicans among the founding fathers, there were also a goodly number of Congregationalists, Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. and a few atheists among them. If we had had to agree o­n an established church, we would probably still be arguing in Philadelphia. COMMENT: I agree with you, what I am trying to say is that if we reject our background, such as saying we make changes between state and church it takes a long time before they come into effect.If I look at the abortion as an example, there is a law to protect womens free choice however, it is still contested by Christian and Conservative groups and if a very conservative Judge gets elected the right can be repealed same for same sex marriage, legally it is possible it is however the religious right who is pushing for it to make marriage o­nly between a man and a woman, it happens in the US and in Canada the religious right (Jewish/Christian/Muslim and extreme right are pushing to have the law for same sex marriage be rejected, even if the law went through the highest court.In Russian that banned religion, this was a fully secular state however they used the same of prejudice to govern and women were not able to get a seat in high placesIn the Middle East even Saddam who was a secular leader had to include Muslim principles so, although not in the forefront religion does play a role.This is why the idea of separation of church and state is o­nly taking shape into the world.]

 

In France, the government is fully secular. Although freedom of religion is accepted in principal, religion is excluded in government or the public sphere. Religion, the French reasoned, was part of the private sphere and not the public domain. Many political observers within the U.S. say their country is moving toward this view. (Some articles I read are suggesting that the US is still more lenient than France is or was. Religious freedom in the US is better than in France who shuns it and yet uses it the same religion to control people It causes a group of people to have split personalities: you can be a Jew at home but not in public, and if France was true to its word of full separation of Church and State Christmas and New Year would not be celebrated, in Quebec Jean Baptist Day would not be a Provincial holiday where all businesses were to be closed.It is difficult to make my statement succinct but this is what I am trying to show Personally I find this is a stumbling block

 

In the Middle East, or the Muslim world, religion is part of the public and private domain. A person is often identified not by their ethnicity but by their religion. Most countries have a constitution, however, in the Middle East, the document that establishes national sovereignty must reflect the principles of Islam. In Saudi Arabia the Quran is the constitution of the country. This means that sexes are segregated and unequal, a man has dominion over his household and his wife cannot travel unless he signs for her.Religious freedom is tolerated although, since the turn of the century, a minority of Muslims has become intolerant of Jews and Christians. They are no longer dhimmi (protected) or affrangeia (foreigner) but kafr (non-believers and spies); as a result they are no longer protected but distrusted. The fringe groups that are creating tensions in the Muslim world extend the term kafr to Muslims who seek and want reforms. Jews are accused of Zionism, which is a crime. Coptic Christians have less freedom and all Christians are regarded as missionaries who want to convert Muslims, which is against the law and can carry a death sentence in some countries. These tendencies do affect the policies a government makes and the changes they try to make to modernize the Muslim world. Human Rights takes o­n a very different meaning in the Muslim world, as it is understood to be the rights of Muslims.

 

The light of freedom has been lit in the Middle East the majority of Muslims want change and they are seeking to better their lives.Sadly their voices are not heard in the West. This is why IFLAC is so important it offers a forum for these writers to come and debate ideas.Aharoni never stops extending her hand in friendship and inviting Muslims to join her. Through her books and articles she speak of a world that was more tolerant. She speaks of a time in Egypt when it was a role model for diversity, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. She writes about life in Alexandria where Greeks, Italians, French and British men and women lived and cohabitated with Muslims, Jews, and Coptic Christians. Religion was respected; ethnicity was seen as an enrichment and culture flourished. Egyptian literature and the arts rivaled the best

Hollywood movies. Egypt was the crown jewel of the area, a forerunner of what we call a sophisticated culture based o­n the richness literature offers. This cultural richness can be in the multilingual body of literature and books available in French, English, Arabic, Greek, Italian and even Hebrew. Interestingly, both men and women were educated in Egypt. What destroyed this idyllic world was ethnocentric politics and egocentric leadership. Twelve generals overthrew the monarchy and replaced it by a type of dictatorship. Yet it was politics, combined with compassion that led Anwar Sadat to sign a peace treaty. His wife Jehan Sadat prompted him after Aharoni and Ruth Weiss, from Israel, contacted her. They wanted peace and peace they got it.

 

6.Does gender play a role? Two interpretations of feminism East and West

 

An American proverb Behind every great man there is a woman! contradicts the Biblical interpretation that the first woman, Eve, caused mans downfall. Yet, for thousands of years women have lived in the shadows of the male of the species. Until the 20th century, women were viewed as adjuncts to men, as this expression shows: Its a mans world. God, according to the Bible, creates Eve from Adams rib because he was lonely and needed a companion. Adam became synonymous with man and Eve with woman, hence, Adam was the first-born and Eve the second-born. According to Genesis, Eve was the first o­ne to disobey God and eat from the tree of knowledge, her original sin led to the expulsion from Eden. It is this interpretation that led to a division or authority; woman had dominion over her house under a mans supervision and man ruled over the world. The consequence was that men were in charge of war and peace, religion and politics. Women were passive and men were active players. In other words women suffered history while men made history.

 

Womens needs were rarely addressed. However, they craved to be separate and equal.They wanted to be included in the promise of equality, fraternity and liberty. They wanted to have equal rights and so they sought emancipation. They were tired of listening to the same-old, same-old and needed to not o­nly be heard but to be listened to. They were tired of suffering history. They wanted to make their own decisions, as expressed by am American slave woman who asked: Aint I a woman? Sojourner Truth coined her famous phrase to show the hypocrisy of white men who helped the weaker sex (white women) in and out of carriages while demanding of a black woman to work as hard as a man bailing hay or plowing. Even those men who were abolitionists failed to treat her as a women.She said that the o­nly man who helped her was Jesus, because he listened to her pain and made her free. Intellect, thought, vision and ideals made her free mentally, and finally, physically. The very Bible that made her a slave set her free.

 

Rosa Parks experienced first hand white mens hypocrisy o­n a bus in the South. As a black woman she had to stand up and give her seat to a white man, the same gentleman who gave up his seat and tipped his hat to a white woman. Her story sparked the Civil Right movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. [I think there is a trnsition missing here.] Yet he is remembered by these words:I have a dream of emancipation, justice and equality for my people.

 

At the same time, feminism/womanism was taking root in the West, its seeds made their way to the East. Women are like a seeds, that produce trees of knowledge; each branch represents a part of Western and Eastern civilization, which includes womanism, a term coined by Alice Walker to refer to black womens liberation. Womanism does not negate, but rather adds to feminist thought. The struggle for womens rights in the East is alive and well and has produced writers, such Leila Ahmed, Fatima Mernissi and Ada Aharoni. Ahmed was born in Egypt and Mernissi in Morocco; they are both educated in the East and the Western educated however their focus is the Middle East and the role of women in that world. [clarify, please: Mernissi was educated in Morocco and at the Sorbonne, and Ahmed was educate din Egypt and later at Oxford, however they chose to study their own society] Aharoni was born in Egypt, (she followed a similar path however she is looking at her people and the other society and extending a hand in friendship to her neighbors What I am trying to say is that Ahmed and Mernissi are looking within their society, Aharoni is looking at the society she lost her home in Egypt and all other Jews from the Arab world, she looks ather life in the Arab world andoffers a hand in friendship) was educated in the East and the West, she reaches out to the world and gives us a means of finding unity, as she offers each o­ne of us a green leaf for a good week but it is also a metaphor for peace.

 

Leila Ahmed, who wrote Women and Islam, asked for reforms within the Muslim world. Fatima Mernissi who wrote Dreams of Trespass: A Tale of Harem Girlhood or The Veil and the Male Elite [is the veil a subtitle: it is just under the title] that forces Muslim men to rethink their role in modern society and gives woman a space (of)their own space in the outside world. [clarify, please Women in Morrocco were often asked to stay barricade behind walls, their world was the

inner world of women, however may mothers wanted their daughters to learn math and religion so they could have a life in the outside world this was more a less a class phenomenon as those who were poor had more freedom that the upper class who lived in a world apart] The response given by religious Muslim men acknowledged that Islam would not exist without the council and faith of Mohammeds wife, Khadija. [Is this correct? ANSWER:Yes that is their most famous ways to get women interested Khadija his first wife was older and she is the o­ne who told him that his visions came from God, she also had him protected and gave him a job.His marriage to her was monogamous and she gave him four daughters,she was also widowed a few times they say look she wasan older woman, rich as sh hired him and he was faithful to her and loved herShe died in Meccaand it is o­nly after he went to Medina that he married 10 to 14 wives, most of them had been married before o­nly o­ne Aisha was a virgin and she was 9 or 11 depending o­n the text you read ] She is the o­ne who told the young Mohammed that his vision was real and divine and not a hallucination from the devil. They also give other examples as to the important role women played in Islamic history. Ahmed does say that the main reason women were not leaders could be linked to the fact that Aisha, the favorite wife of Mohammed went to war against his son-in-law and heir, Ali and lost the battle. [Im guessing here about Aisha and Ali, so correct me if I am wrong. ANSWER you are right:Ali is the heir o­nly for Shiite Muslim, he is the fourth Caliph in Sunni Islam this is a big debate also Ali Accused Aisha of having slept with another man and a verse came down to exonerate her to Mohamed In Shiite Islam Aisha is despised however for Sunni men she is a dream come true ] She brings out the close link between leadership and war exploits. In more recent history Jehan Sadat, in her book, A Woman from Egypt, writes that a letter from Ruth Weiss who offered her the olive branch of peace, sparked the talks between her husband Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1978.

 

The olive branch has been used for centuries to symbolize peace. However, Ada Aharoni uses the idea of the mint to symbolize a long-lasting peace. Mint is used flavor lamb, which is a symbol of peace. Mint has curative properties as it calms and soothes a nervous stomach. But mint spreads underground by root division and it is perennial that can be planted in the East and the West. It can, and does, survive the cold winters o­nly to grow again in the spring. In ancient times, winter meant peace and the winds of spring brought war. Mint becomes the perfect symbol for peace, as war freezes the hearts of men and peace warms, sweetens ad refreshes them, just like a nice cup of nana (mint tea). Warriors, too, need to be healed and mint offers a holistic way of calming and relaxing. Culture needs to survive after a war; like mint, the roots of culture are long and far-reaching. The roots of the mint are what make it spread, just like the intention of the heart makes peace grow in each heart and o­ne person at a time we are blessed with the words have a green week. (See Ada Aharonis poem: A Green Week, in her book: You And I Can Change The World.)

 

The mint and the tree of knowledge each have roots in these wise words from Sojourner Truth: Aint I a woman! The [green or mint? WHAT I MEAN: you know when a seed spring out of the earth there is a shoot be it a tree or a leaf of mint, it is that shoot I am talking about ] leaves bring to the surface interesting questions about hypocrisy, double standards, equality, emancipation and reason. Women, who were traditionally thought to be submissive, can become confrontational. Women can live in the shadow of a man who offers his seat to a woman while taking it away from another. Women can be the guiding force behind a man or they can stand o­n their own in the spotlight. They can be religious or not, conservative or liberal, yet they are thinking, rational beings who use reason to make a point. They are like a tree of knowledge or the sprig of mint; the thing that unifies them is they are women who use the spoken and written word to create a body of literature.

 

7.How can IFLAC build bridges between religion, politics and gender?

 

The answer is both simple and complex as it is literature. Literature, be it Eastern or Western, has been dominated by the voices of men. We know their priorities when we read their legacy in religion, politics, war and peace. If they are the o­ne who can fix anything, o­ne wonders at the messy condition of the world. Their way has been to have o­nly o­ne voice, male; whether in the East or the West, men were the undisputed leaders and they have the proof, as they o­nly retained the voice of men and not of women. [please explain: EXPLANATION:They have the proof that is the books and literature to prove they are leaders of religion, the army etc no such records were kept of women literature and their point of viewthere are o­nly a few voices that are remembered and the women said exactly what men said or they backed them upSome

scholars in religion thought that women did not known how to read however since women got into academia they are finding records in abbeys, in the Middle East et that challenges previously held beliefs. ] Success and leadership was determined by who was the strongest and, at times, the most violent. Men spoke of reason, yet were unreasonable. They promised freedom and enslaved others. They spoke of equality, which included men o­nly. They spoke of fraternity, but o­nly for men. Freedom was for men. Religion makes you free if women know their place and stay quiet. [can you expand o­n this please:I can clarify: there are two ways of looking at it and I did not see it as being harsh and it is some women who are very religious find that religion is giving them freedom, even if there are restriction, and other women feel they are trapped in the same situation and say we need to be quiet However, women have often been outspoken and gotten their way across..it is difficult to have an opinion as we do not have yet enough proof to say if womenwere really trapped or free in religion o­ne example: some women Catholicsbecame nuns as they did not want to marry and wanted to study, for them a cloister was freedom, others wanted to sing and joined an order to sing Some Jewish women went into business in their communities and did well, but they had to be married or live with their family.]

 

Ideas came from the top down; no o­ne thought of asking or of encouraging those at the bottom to write. Women and the children were to be seen and not heard. However, IFLAC offers a creative and challenging an alternative, for both men and women who truly believe in peace and in knowing and understanding the other. The Biblical adage, Love thy neighbor, encompasses the meaning and depth of the IFLAC constitution.

 

The message in the poetry of Aharoni is to place human beings in a natural environment. She uses herbs, fruits and nature to convey the message of peace. The mint replaces the traditional olive branch. The pomegranate teaches, in a, practical way, how we can be truly cosmopolitan by retaining our own culture [I thought culture was the flesh surrounding the seed: COMMENT You are right, it is culture that can be the flesh and the juice the sweet juice can be literature I am glad you picked it up thanks. ] the seed and using words and literature to know o­ne another. [Maybe you better help me out here with what you mean.I got lost here sorry it is confusing I am looking at the seed which is ethnicity: the flesh culture and the juice literature which is knowledge] Poetry also makes us feel the pain of the others and our own pain, o­ne does not dismiss the other it o­nly reminds us that through pain we can seek solutions that will bring peace.She knows first-hand the pain of being a stranger in her homeland; that led to exile and refugee status of refugee, hence she understands and empathizes with her Palestinian friends. Although she writes about Jews, she encourages others to do the samecreate a body of literature for all those who wish to share, teach and learn.

 

Helen Reddy sang, I am woman hear me roar! Is gratuitous violence o­n television, news reports about war, or blood and guts o­n the television screen really more interesting to viewers than peace? If you think not, IFLAC suggests you turn off your television write a letter to your local broadcaster asking for responsible television that is inspirational and promotes good moral values. For those weary of the violence, there is an alternative, the WSPN (Womens Satellite Peace Network). WSPN is differentit is not andocentric, nor ethnocentric. It may be characterized as gynocentric because it offers women a voice. It also features the unheard voices of men who have a creative way to approach peace and the voices of children. The aim of WSPN is to offer an alternate voice that will counter the culture of death that is so prevalent o­n television in the East and the West. WSPN is not against freedom of speech but for conscientious and responsible speech that promotes morals based o­n ethics. WSPN debates all topics and offer solutions.

 

Walk the talk! Words are o­nly words, they become meaningful when they are put to action, hence the daily newsletter that acts as a dairy and a form of ethical journalism as it focuses o­n the positive instead of the negative. [please explain: NEWSLETTER talks about the various peace conferences, we get poems, different ideas as t better ourselves, deepen our knowledge, scholars write o­ne to the other radio interviews, the latest conference where and when what happened etc is sent o­n a daily basis..] The request to sign petitions to ask that suicide bombing becomes a crime, to compensate not o­nly Palestinians but also Jews from the Arab world, as both suffered from exile and both were refugees. Jews did not want to remain refugees and integrated into their new home, be it in Israel, France, England, the United States, Canada or Brazil. Sadly, Palestinians were ill advised, as they remained refugees and outcasts even in the Arab world. Ask for the release of man whose o­nly crime was that he wanted to be friends with Israel. Do not o­nly sign, but also write to your member of parliament, to the United Nations and ask for their help. Ask your local television station to air a story o­n these topics, live your words and make a difference. You can because, Aint you a woman?

 

IFLAC paves the way to peace will become a reality. Men paved the way to war by cutting brush and making a road. Men paved the way to the culture of war and linked it to peace, hence peace and war, love and hate, became twins. IFLAC paves another way based o­n the best of each [what? The best of our literature, our culture, our ideas, it focuses o­n the best we have to offer as people] o­ne has to offer. Ada Aharoni often tells a story about her father who contacted the head rabbi of France and asked him what he should do [about what?In Egypt, what was his role since he was not living in Israel:the rabbi told him o­ne day they would go back and hence he had to learn the best of what the culture had to offer]. The rabbi said to learn what is the best in a culture for o­ne day you will go back to Israel and with you shall bring the best or your world. This is the philosophy or vision that IFLAC offers to the world, the best of each culture preserved in the world of literature. In this way IFLAC is the first stepping stone that will pave a way to peace as we are offered a spring of mint and wished a green week.

 

Bibliography

 

www.iflac.com/ada [I am guessing that you are wtill working o­n this as it is not in a bibliographic style that I

recognize.

 

www.iflac.com

 

www.iflac.com/Horizon

 

http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/par0bio-1

 

http://www.amislam.com/pundit16.htm

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IFLAC

 

http://lfa.atu.edu/Brucker/Bellow.html

 

http://www.ou.edu/womensoc/feminismwomanism.htm

 

http://myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=a_aharoni

 

http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/1992/tum-bio.html

 

http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=43

 

www.petitiononline.com

 

GLOSSARY

 

Affrangeia: (Arabic), which means stranger. Used in a derogatory way by Egyptians, between 1947 and today, when they speak of Europeans and Jews.It implies that the person is Kafr as it refers to non-Muslim because they do not believe in Allah or his messenger and they are seen as spies or concealing something.

 

Androcentric: dominated by or emphasizing masculine interests or a masculine point of view, Webster o­nline definition.

 

Emancipation: During the French revolution in the 18th century, the first people to be emancipated were the Jews. They were given the full rights as French citizens, as they integrated within French society, which lived according to the principles of Equality, Fraternity and Liberty.

 

Dhimmi: (Arabic) that literally means protected it refers to Jews and Christians who live in the Muslim, as they are protected but it has legal implicationbecause they must pay an extra tax.Many Christians converted to Islam to avoid paying the tax.

 

Feminism: can be defines as wanting equality between men and women o­n all levels of life and in both the public and private sphere.

 

Feminist: a woman who follows the ideals of feminism.

 

Gender: the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with o­ne sex. www.webster.com

 

Gynocentric: Woman-centered, a brand new conceptso new that it is not normally found in dictionaries.

 

Hippy: Someone who rejects the established culture and espouses extreme liberal ideals.

 

Hippy Era: was started in the 1960s in San Francisco they promoted ideals of free love, fighting for peace, and were very vocal during the Vietnam war, gave such expressions as: Make love not war, Flower Power.

 

IFLAC International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace, which regroups academics, writers, and artists from around the world and offers them a platform to discuss and share their idea based o­n a simple yet powerful idea mutual respect.Making it possible for IFLAC to pave the way for Peace.

 

Ijtihad: (Arabic) Legal term used to describe thinking about an action the person tries to find the motivation and uses analysis to come up with a solution.Ijtihad was used to codify and write the Islamic Code of Law.Modern Muslim reformers help Islam enter the 20th century also use it. Antonym: taqlid.

 

Intifada: Palestinian uprising the first o­ne was in 1987 the second in 2000.

 

Pax Romana: (Latin) A long period of peace enforced by the Roman Empire. It lasted 200 years and allowed people to flourish and develop.It also has a religious connotation as it is used to describe the peace that will come with the Catholic religion.

 

Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a: the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b: the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.

 

Taqlid: (Arabic) often used in a legal sense, to describe a persons actions of copying or imitating another person, usually the Prophet Mohammed.

 

Ulema: scholars trained in Islamic law.

 

Womanism: A term first used by LiteratureCulture Alice Walker, which means a black feminist.

 

Womanist: A woman who follows the ideals of womanism.

 

AUTHOR:

Celine Leduc 715, Bishop Power app 311, LaSalle, Qc, Canada

Telephone (514) 365-9872, email: celine.l1@sympatico.ca

Websites: http://effusion.2005.blogspot.com , http://loveisrael.blogspot.com

 

29 November 2004

 

 

 

 

 



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