SVA held a conference to discuss community peace in the West Bank city of Nablus at the halls of Future Association on June 23, 2013. 104 local youth and university graduates and representatives of local NGOs participated at the conference. SVA’s West Bank Coordinator, Hassan Alkhatib, opened the conference and welcomed the participants, emphasizing on the need to continue the efforts of spreading concepts of community peace, tolerance, dialogue and reconciliation.
Mrs. Abeer Qasm chaired the first session of the conference and welcomed the distinguished writer Ms. Imtiyaz Almaghreby who presented her paper ” the role of women in promoting the culture of community peace”. She spoke about the Palestinian women and the continuous struggle they have been playing to end the current political split and such a struggle has been yet represented in peaceful demonstrations. She also discussed the role of Palestinian women who continue to struggle for the sake of a democratic society as well that is based on social justice, equality and non-violence. She added that the political split has caused a great damage to the Palestinian social structure as Palestinians pay a price for the division. Almaghreby believed that women have a role to play in spreading community peace by means of their efficiency, wisdom and tolerance. She advised women persistence in their struggle for community peace, calling on all parties, including decision-makers, to help organize some relevant campaigns for the best of culture of community peace, in which women can be broadly involved.
In the second paper, Mrs. Abeer Qasm also welcomed the Islamic preacher, Zuhair Aldeby to who spoke about the community peace rejects all forms of violence and incitement. He added that the Islamic faith had long ago preached tolerance and renounced extremism or violence. Aldeby also emphasised that an open religious would help sort out hatred or any other form of extremism among members of the local community. He made clear that the Islamic faith respects pluralism and others and encourages interaction, based on rational dialogue, tolerance and mercy. The local preacher also believed that Islam has ever been based on a comprehensive vision not the partisan tendencies. He added that a well-structured society would lead to security and stability. Non-tolerance would mean non-existence of a variety of thoughts or visions, because of the fact that there is a wide range of demagogic dialogues that prevent flow of variety of visions or thoughts. He believed that currently there are some attempts by some parties to abolish doctrines of others.
Irrespective to recent global changes around the world, Aldeby said that there are still some social trends or behavior that are outdated like taking revenge or tribal feuds. Through his paper, Aldeb’y expressed his sorry for the killings and injuries of people during political partisan conflicts, attributing such fights to the absence of tolerance and culture of dialogue.
In the first session of the conference too, the media practitioner, Mr. Atef Sa’d presented a paper on media role in spreading culture of community peace. Sa’d maintained that media has ever been concerned about community problems and the suffering of a given community members, consequently influencing public opinion. He said that media could assume a certain role in spreading culture of community peace and averting all forms of violence, extremism or partisanship. He noted that a genuine media work could serve the local community effectively for the best of community peace, once such media is backed by the law. He maintained that community peace, the national unity and stability could be secured once media outlets are based on neutrality, objectivity and independency. Sa’d also made clear that a real media role should be based on principle of justice and accountability in a region.
During the second session, Dr. Fakhry Aldwaikat, of the Alquds Open University chaired the session and welcomed Mr. Ghassan Daghlas, non-violent activist to present his paper work on ‘popular peaceful resistance, adding that peaceful struggle, at the political, cultural and economic levels, is necessary. He pointed out that the popular non-violent resistance, is the best means for the people as a clear future strategy.
In a different paper work, presented by priest Ibrahim Naiyrouz, peaceful Islamic-Christian coexistence in Palestine, is an excellent model for dialogue among religions. Nayrouz maintained that the city of Bethlehem, is a city of peace where Muslims and Christians live in a great harmony. He clarified that the Islamic-Christian coexistence in Bethelahem has been marked with suffering under occupation, suffering of prisoners and sacrifices of all other freedom fighters irrespective to the religious background. The priest also noted that both Muslims and Christians have united against all occupation attempts to transform the city. He noted that such a historical coexistence between Muslims and Christians should be enhanced in a way that would allow mutual respect and reinforcement of dialogue and community peace among all members of the local community.
Participants and the speakers recommended the following:
- Expanding and generalizing idea of youth participation in social, economic , cultural and political development;
- There is a need for future similar conferences in all parts of the region.
- Promotion of rules of law, good governance, values of social justice and equality.
- Spreading security and safety among the local community and nhancing culture of community peace building with the involvement of all categories of the local civil community and local government.
- Forming a committee comprising of all local community organizations , so that they will all work for the sake of community-based peace.
- Enhancing role of local community organizations in relation with concepts of community peace.
- Organizing campaign of advocacy and lobbying towards political parties so that a Palestinian reconciliation could be observed.
- Promoting religious Islamic and Christian cooperation that would enhance community reconciliation.
- Engaging in activities and programs that would enhance community peace and rule of law.
- Adhering to public national trends when it comes to media works including print, audio and television or electronic. This would guarantee peace and security of local citizens and remove all forms of incitement, hatred or split.
- Reinforcing concepts of community peace and dialogue, away from violence and dismissal of others as well as finding new prospects for dialogue among youth, based on public interests, not on factional narrow ones.
- Spreading culture of community peace among all members of the local community, especially youth.
- Respecting political pluralism inside the Palestinian community, something that would raise level of democracy and help political parties and institutions succeed.
- Increasing number of meetings and seminars to discuss the political rivalry at the internal level and spreading culture of community peace among local members of the community.
- Opening to others and reinforcing culture of bilateral relations and respect of others’ opinions, exchange of thoughts and expertise for the sake of humanity.
- Reinforcing culture of dialogue among members of the local community, given the fact dialogue is important for the sake of mutual respect within the framework of the national interests.
- Promoting rule of law, as being the safeguard of the community.