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November 21, 2004

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Were there public libraries before the civil war, or are these being built for the first time? And are there any plans to build them in other cities?

Hopefully these libraries will flourish and expand - and it's also nice to see that Beirut has recovered to the point where it can worry about such things.

Dear Leila,

In your web biography, you write: “Peace is within our reach. Only by envisioning it can we make it so.”

In that spirit, having become increasingly upset about the direction of world events, I sat down a few months ago and tried to put down in words what I would like to see happen to change the path we are on.

The idea I came up with is an extremely ambitious one, but I believe that any idea that actually has the power to change the world for the better and encourage people to choose hope over hatred is an idea that must be tried.

The idea is for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans to take the first steps to peace together through a campaign of simultaneous marches in the U.S., Israel and Palestinian territory.

The goal is to mobilize a massive display of support for nonviolent engagement and deliver a clear and powerful message that progress is possible.

The marches will give all sides a platform to say that they share a responsibility to resolve the conflict and wish to do so without more bloodshed. All sides will be expressing a readiness to engage in dialogue and to take constructive steps for peace if the message of non-violence is heeded. All will be saying that they're willing to do their part to work together for peace.

The effort won't advocate any specific agreement. It will carry only a positive message that Palestinians, Israelis and Americans are ready to take the first steps to a better future together. People won't be pointing blame at any group or protesting any specific government policy or official. They'll be marching for a future of hope and progress, not hatred and violence.

I've worked hard to articulate and present a positive, non-political vision of hope with the simplicity and power to move people to action and I just launched a web site http://www.firststepstopeace.org to promote the idea about a week ago. The first few people have already signed up to join the effort, even though I've barely started to get the word out.

These are the words with which Ami Isseroff of mideastweb.org introduced the effort to his web dialogue group. They are the strongest testament to the potential power of this effort:
"It is one of the few peace initiatives that tries very carefully not to
blame anyone, not to be against, but to be "for." It is an idea that can and
should be supported by Palestinians and Israelis and their partisans, and by friends of peace everywhere. In the torrent of hate propaganda, a tiny voice is speaking out for decency and humanity and asking others to join. It is an idea that doesn't threaten anyone, doesn't detract from any of your favorite peace projects. On the contrary, if this can be developed
into a mass movement, it will help to change the atmosphere and synergize other efforts for peace. I can't understand how anyone could possibly NOT be willing to help, but I am not naive enough to suppose everyone will rush out to help."

There’s no question, I am attempting to overcome long odds and turn a ripple into a wave. The only way it will succeed is if this idea truly has the power to inspire people to get involved. What I’m doing now, just through word of mouth and the Internet, is testing the power of the idea.

Please take a look at the site, and if you think this effort is worthwhile, please consider sharing the link with others.

Also, here is a link to an article (written by me) that just appeared on mideastweb.org, explaining why this effort is relevant in a post-Arafat world.
http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000314.htm

Take care,

Jed

p.s. sorry to be off-topic

>The idea is for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans to take the first steps to >peace together through a campaign of simultaneous marches in the U.S., >Israel and Palestinian territory.

I love this idea but believe there should be a *world* marching day to demonstrate for peace in Palestine, not just limited to the 3 states. Let everyone everywhere show their leaders that they want settlement of this long-running conflict to be a priority. It should definitely be a march for peace in Palestine, not for Middle East peace, as otherwise some folks will think it's a statement about Iraq primarily and won't participate.

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