A couple of hours ago, as the following news of Arab Israeli peace initiatives was being drafted, a reader sent a link giving news of the death of Hashem al-Azzeh, a 54-year-old Palestinian doctor and peace activist in the city of Hebron on Wednesday.
Local media reported that he died after excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. A post-mortem will be held.
Hashem has been described as Hebron’s unofficial spokesperson. Even after being sentenced by the IDF to house arrest for several years, a punishment that caused him to lose his job with the UN, Hashem continued to campaign for his people.
Last Saturday, October 17, he was quoted in Middle East Eye, describing the impunity with which settlers in the Old City have been killing young Palestinians: “The settlers feel confident that they have a free pass to kill Palestinians here,” he said. “We have asked the soldiers to help stop the settlers but they said it’s not their role and that we should leave the city.”
Hashem’s work will not end with his life. There are tens of thousands of people in Palestine and many in Israel who will carry it forward. His memory will live through them.
A hummus café owner in Israel hopes to bring people together
We read that a hummus cafe in Israel is giving a 50% discount to tables mixing Jewish and Arab diners, in a campaign the owner hopes will bring people together as dozens of people have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month.
Kobi Tzafrir, the owner of Hummus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin, initially posted the offer on Facebook: “With us we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews… With us we’ve got human beings! Real excellent Arab hummus! Excellent Jewish falafel!”
Givat Haviva, an educational organization promoting Arab-Jewish coexistence
The Times of Israel reports that approximately 700 Jews and Arabs held hands in a chain in the central Galilee to call for reconciliation amidst a wave of violence throughout Israel over the past few weeks. The symbolic gathering on Friday afternoon was organized by Givat Haviva, an educational organization that promotes Arab-Jewish coexistence.
The group of Arabs and Jews assembled and held hands on both sides of Route 65, near the Megiddo Junction in Wadi Ara, an area in the Galilee with a large Arab population.
Organizers called the event “a symbol of coexistence and shared life, specifically at this tense period.” After the event, entitled “Choosing to Engage,” Givat Haviva held a small ceremony with discussions.
Givat Haviva issued a declaration before the event titled “Call for a Secure and Shared Life in Israel” that condemned “any attack on body, soul or property, as well as any expression of physical or verbal abuse . . . We appeal to the leaders of both peoples to refrain from incitement and the ferment of emotions. Our task at this time is to inspire calm and ensure public safety.” The declaration was signed by seven mayors of Jewish and Arab municipalities in the Wadi Ara area.
A joint Jewish-Arab demonstration against violence was set to take place in Jerusalem Saturday evening. “Arabs and Jews want to live in security,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “Real security, without occupation and without killing. We know that only with a just solution to the conflict will we be able to stop the killing and the hatred, to build a different reality. A reality of security.”
Other Arab-Israeli peace initiatives include:
Neve Shalom http://www.nswas.com/
Combatants for peace http://www.combatantsforpeace.org/aboutus.asp
Israeli peace activists return to streets (2010) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/81ec01c2-4ee9-11df-b8f4-00144feab49a.html