Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

a beautiful ray of hope

Published under Europe, Global, Loss, Religion Aug 22, 2016

In the wake of a heinous murder of an octogenarian priest in France by radical Muslims, Muslims across Europe attended Catholic Mass and spoke out assertively against extremism within.  I hadn’t seen this courageous act of solidarity in the news till my friend Martin Varsavsky pointed it out. What a powerful and strategically effective response to terrorists – achieving precisely the opposite of what extremists would like the reaction and impact to be.

Every time those that want to divide us act, the overwhelming majority should take an active stance to denounce and condemn them. If we all stand up together, the oxygen that turns gross murder into terror would be removed and their goals extinguished. Of course firm force must also be used against all violent extremists and terrorists, but it is not enough. To defeat the ideology of hatred, you need a movement of inclusion and empathy to counteract it.

Full article below:

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Gideon Biger, a Professor of Geography at Tel Aviv University, references three examples of how European States handled somewhat similar territorial challenges and ultimately achieved harmony.  While there are plenty of distinctions, these are all worth bearing in mind as Israel and Palestine seek to resolve their differences.

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The following article was shared with Daniel by his friend Fred.  It is an interesting analysis of Israel’s current state and the themes of Weimar that the author claims are showing their ugly head once more. 

 

 

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Intolerance in the Netherlands

Published under Europe, Religion Jan 10, 2011

It is incredibly saddening and disappointing to see the intolerance that is terrorizing civilians in the Netherlands today.  This article in the Brussels Journal introduces the term “Decoy Jew,” or policemen dressed in traditional Jewish garb who are looking to arrest attackers who accost them, assuming they are Jews.  It is horrible that Jews are still encountering this needless hatred and bias and a sad fact that these “Decoy Jews” need exist.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, redacted by Adeena Schlussel.

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According to an article in the New York Times, a 600 page government report was recently released from secrecy, revealing that at times, the US Nazi hunting effort simultaneously harbored Nazi’s on American soil, creating a safe haven of sorts. The shocking details of the report reveal that in many ways the post wart effort to prosecute Nazis was very successful, but in many ways it was a huge failure as it was undermined by opposing efforts to provide for the very people the country was supposedly hunting.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, redacted by Adeena Schlussel

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The German Historical Museum has a new exhibit featuring household items emblazoned with the Nazi logo, depicting how wide spread Nazi support was in Germany during World War Two. According to an article in the New York Times, these items emphasize how crucial the support of the people was in bolstering Hitler’s power.  Without society, Hitler was nothing, but with their support he was all powerful– a scary thought with an obvious lesson in thinking for one’s self and standing for what is right.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, redacted by Adeena Schlussel

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Further to this post by Adeena regarding the rising attacks against the Mosque being erected in downtown NYC, let me provide some more background to the thousands of people that are attacking this project without taking the time to do a little bit of research about it.

I received this video post by Pat Condell from my sister, attacking the project.

Here was my response to my sister:

The mosque near Ground Zero is being opened by a dear friend and member of the PeaceWorks Foundation’s Honorary Board, and a remarkable human being who our Dad would have loved as much as he loved Rabbi Scheinberg [our Orthodox Rabbi in San Antonio, TX, who we all admire for his deep humility, warmth, and respect of others]. He is a humanist and a pluralist, a tolerant sweet man, and the role model of what we should want EVERY religious leader – Muslim or otherwise – to be like.  Please forward back to Oren and anyone else who shared this with you.

To briefly expound on this note, let me respond to some of the assertions made by Mr. Condell.

He attacks the religion of Islam as an ocean of hatred, violence and intolerance.  But intolerance and hatred are sadly not exclusive to Islam. All major religions have their regrettable elements of excess.

Incidentally just a couple days ago I saw a fantastic movie – Goya’s Ghosts – starring another PeaceWorks Foundation Honorary Board member, Natalie Portman, as a woman who is jailed, raped, and oppressed by the Spanish Inquisition.

There is no question that there are monstrous people who I call "pseudo-Islamic terrorists" who usurp a religion that can be about love and respect, and hijack it to advocate extremism and hatred.  But they do not represent the Islam that many of my friends follow, a religion of humility and striving to be better human beings. 

The real challenge is who is going to win – the tolerant and progressive leaders of Islam, or the regressive ones?

It is up to us to uphold the tolerant and enlightened and respectful leaders who dedicate their lives to peace – as is the case with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.  Demonizing and isolating and chastising them is not a way to strengthen the moderate voices within Islamic countries!!!

Pat Condell writes about how Islam divides people into us vs. them, but he seems to miss the irony in that this is precisely what he does in his video posting by trying to portray all of Islam as intolerant. 

It is true that diversity and tolerance are critical to a functioning democracy.  But sermons like the one by Pat Condell are just as offensive to this notion as intolerant Muslims.

Contrast that to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Mr. Condell clearly has never met him.  But more disturbing, he hasn’t even taken the time to research the Cordoba Initiative.  The initiative was conceived by Imam Feisal almost a decade ago to celebrate the CO-EXISTENCE and DIVERSITY that characterized Cordoba during its golden age.  Condell claims that the Cordoba Initiative was named that way to emphasize the conquest of Christianity by Islam.  He should have started by doing some research!

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Israel and Turkey: Friedman analysis

Published under Europe, Gaza, Global Jun 15, 2010

This article by Tom Friedman is one of the more balanced and insightful articles on the fall out in the Turkey-Israel relation, worth reading.

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As we made our way from London to Madrid to escape the volcanic ash clouds and fly back to the US last month (see twitter journey report starting here, and see pictures here), and drawing from experiences when setting up PeaceWorks ventures and traveling through undeveloped parts of the globe, here are 10 tips for emergency travel:

1. Think Outside the Box: The irony of the volcanic eruption in Iceland is that while most of Europe was enveloped by the ashes – the one airport that continued working at full force was…in Iceland!

2. Research and Plan up front: Careful evaluation of options can save time down the road. Since getting a head start is of the essence during crises, try to parallel process – search on the web while on hold with airlines, ask family, friends or team members to research a particular leg of the trek or travel option. Paul and Allison researched ferries while Ian helped find car, and Adeena booked air reservations. Rely on network knowledge: Skoll entrepreneurs exchanged info via email. Search twitter, facebook, primary sources on web and news sites. Don’t assume one website is definitive. A lot of misinformation also abounds (see below).

3. Just Do It: don’t be paralyzed by options or by the possibility of a wrong decision. You lose much more from total inaction. Like in real life, you can be lucky, but you can also make your luck by just showing up. We feared the ferries and the trains would be so overbooked and we wouldn’t find a spot (because websites and news reports warned all were sold out). We showed up and they were 50% empty!

4. Prepare for Bad Scenarios: Write essential info like key contact #s or confirmations on paper – in case your pda or phone runs out of battery. Carry always essentials with you – such as a mini-first-aid-kit, even if just a couple of pills for each ailment. Carry emergency cash in some secret compartment. Some tissues or toilet paper in your back pocket…

5. Carry Alternative Electric/Web Connection Options: at a minimum this should mean a multi-purpose electric outlet converter; some car chargers can be life-savers and don’t add much space; an unlocked phone with refillable sim cards for the countries you visit can be very useful – not so much for outgoing calls because the rates are almost as exorbitant as if roaming from the US, but because they allow free incoming calls. A US phone with international service for back up is also critical. A wi-fi ready device is the minimum you need; an ethernet cable can be useful; a Verizon-type internet source from phone network can be handy.

6. Travel flexibly/lightly: A carry-on suitcase multiplies the flexibility for flight changes. Layers of clothes allow you to be comfortable in changing temperatures. A sweater for the plane can be very handy. Phone cos can change plan as you travel.

7. Nice to haves can make a difference: noise canceling headphones, extra pair of warm socks.  Take off your shoes on long rides. Pack an Eye mask always – make all the fun you want, but when you are stuck at 6am traveling on car and sleepy, it is an awesome savior.

8. Charge Up When You Can – maximize your staying power – Juice up your computer and phone/pda whenever possible – you never know when you’ll be stuck without electricity.  An extra battery is useful, and you should work on power-saving mode when traveling. Also rest your body well and sleep as much as possible before a long journey. Take a nice good shower and a healthy hearty meal before long travel.

9. Carry something to KIND others: Being able to give a little treat to strangers can make a big difference.  I bring KIND bars with me, not just to snack for myself but as a way to give out to people stranded also, or to people that can give you a hand – at the checkout counter of an airline, etc.

10. Deploy Alliances – Traveling with someone is not just more pleasant; pairing up can help you coordinate – one watches bags while other searches for option, or one buys food while other gets tickets, and is more likely to yield support from others who won’t think you are a stalker; while most people can’t control the passport they carry, not all passports are created equal – and the ones from nations with most pre-cleared no-visa-requirement access can be huge assets.  Develop a bond and loyalty with your preferred airline – loyalty programs come very handy in times of crisis – they set up emergency hotlines and will try to help their passengers find alt. routes. And get local tel #s from your airline so you are not calling long-distance (toll-free #s from abroad are treated as long-distance calls).

More ideas? Post them in comments…

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