Mustafa Barghouti on Operation Protective Edge

by Stephen Lendman

Barghouti is special. He’s important. He’s multi-faceted. He’s a man for all seasons. He’s a physician, political activist, and human rights champion.

He supports nonviolent resistance. He’s a Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) co-founder. He currently serves as secretary-general.

PNI aims to build Palestinian unity. It does so in struggling for self-determination. It does it by promoting democratic values.

Barghouti is a Palestinian Legislative Council/PLO member. He’s a former presidential candidate. Israel rigged Abbas’ 2005 election to deny him.

He was harassed while campaigning. He was intimidated. He was arrested. He was expelled from East Jerusalem.

He was excluded from Nablus and Gaza. He was prevented from  competing fairly against Israel’s preferred choice.

Israel rigged things for Abbas. He lacked legitimacy from day one in office. He has none now.

Barghouti is genuine. He’s polar opposite Abbas. He’s a grassroots democracy advocate.

He’s president of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committee. It provides health and community services for over one million Palestinians annually.

He heads the Health Department Information and Policy Institute. It’s a Ramallah-based think tank. It specializes in policy research and planing for the Palestinian healthcare system.

He co-founded the Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People. He formerly served as Palestinian People’s Party general-secretary.

He’s an Oxford Research Group associate. It’s dedicated to developing effective methods for positive change on security issues through non-violent means.

Barghouti is well-known. He enjoys worldwide respect. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire nominated him for the 2010 award.

She was “inspired by the life and work of Dr. Barghouti whose commitment to nonviolence, in his personal and public life, is truly in the Ghandian spirit.”

Honoring Barghouti “would be a recognition of not only his great spirit of peace and nonviolence, but also the Palestinian Nonviolent Movement, which gives us all hope for the future of Palestine, Israel and the Middle East Community,” she explained.

Britain’s parliament passed a motion. It paid tribute to his nomination.

It cited his “invaluable role…in organizing and encouraging Palestinian civil society in the fundamental principles of non-violence.”

It acknowledged “the tirelessness of his activities in the face of so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles that face all Palestinians living under Israeli occupation whether that be in the West Bank or imprisoned in Gaza.”

In 2010, France awarded Barghouti its Legion of Honor (Legion d’Honneur). Napoleon established it in May 1802.

It was the first modern-day order of merit. It’s France’s highest honor. It’s awarded for excellent civil or military service.

Throughout Operation Protective Edge (OPE), Barghouti debunked the official narrative.

He denounced Israeli high crimes. He separated myths from reality.

War didn’t start in Gaza, he said. It began in the West Bank. It had nothing to do with Hamas rockets.  

Israel bears full responsibility. It does so for state-sponsored terrorism.

The dominant narrative called it self-defense. Justifiable Palestinian resistance is called terrorism.

During OPE, Israel rampaged throughout the territories. It did so multiple times daily.

It terrorized West Bank/East Jerusalem communities. It invaded over 3,000 homes.

It ransacked them. It destroyed many. It stole money and other personal possessions.

It used tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and live fire against peaceful Palestinian demonstrators.

It arrested over 1,000 Palestinians. They included parliamentarians doing their jobs.

Nearly three dozens are lawlessly imprisoned. They languish in Israel’s gulag. Conditions are brutal.

Torture is official Israeli policy. Horrific abuses are commonplace.

OPE was much more than war on Hamas. It was war on Palestine. It was collective punishment writ large.

Dozens of families were annihilated to the last man, woman and child.

“Entire neighborhoods…were completely eliminated within 24 hours,” said Barghouti.

Eight hospitals were attacked. So were clinics, ambulances and healthcare workers. Palestinian journalists were murdered in cold blood.

Obama and other world leaders ignored Israeli aggression. They defended its right to mass murder and destroy.

“(N)ot a single word” supported Palestinians’ right of self-defense, said Barghouti.

“The Palestinians are the ones whose land has been occupied for 47  years, who have been forced into displacement and refugee status since 1948, (and who suffer) from a system of apartheid, discrimination and segregation created by the Israeli occupation.”

Yet nothing is said in their behalf. Reality is turned on its head.

Israeli suffering is considered unique. Extreme Palestinian misery is ignored.

They dehumanized. Their lives and well-being aren’t important. They faced the world’s fourth most powerful army.

They did so with light arms and ineffective rockets. Israeli began OPE. It did so lawlessly.

Palestinians were victimized. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.

Instigators are called victims. Real ones are called perpetrators and terrorists.

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Palestinians suffer under the longest occupation in modern memory.

Palestine’s longstanding struggle affects Israel, said Barghouti. “Israelis will never be free as long as we are not free,” he stresses.

What’s been ongoing for decades must stop, he says. “(I)mpunity and reality must be exposed.”

Enough is enough! No longer can longstanding injustice continue. Things must change. The official Israeli narrative must be challenged.

“Please see the reality,” says Barghouti. “Look at the facts.”

Truths must replace fiction. Peace, equity, and justice can’t wait.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) champions Palestinian peace and stability. It deplores militarism, war and other forms of violence.

It calls human rights laws inviolable. It wants violators held accountable.

On September 9, Barghouti addressed PSC members. He did so in London. He discussed what he saw and experienced in Gaza.

“Thank you for everything you have done for Palestine and Gaza,” he said.

“We have been watching the demonstrations. What you have done has given the people a great amount of moral support and I hope you can continue with this, because it is very important.”

“(S)olidarity work” is vital, he stressed. “(W)e have a very, very big fight ahead of us.”

No one can comprehend what happened without living it.

“No footage, no speech, no camera, no television can really show the reality that you can see with your own eyes,” he said.

“Please go there if you can. It’s so important for you to know the reality, and (vital) for (Gazans) to see you there.”

“What happened is beyond description. Even describing it as an act of disproportionality is an insult to humanity. Describing it as an imbalance of power is also an insult.”

“After slaughtering thousands of people and destroying thousands of homes and to speak about reconstruction and to immediately allow Israeli companies to make a profit from this is also an insult to humanity.”

“What happened in Gaza, as has happened before in the West Bank is nothing but war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

“What happened was nothing but massacres against the civilian population and Israel couldn’t have done that without a feeling of impunity and without having impunity from international law, and this couldn’t have happened if so many Western world leaders hadn’t been complicit in what happened.”

They support Israeli genocidal high crimes against peace. They ignore Palestinian suffering.

They do virtually nothing to relieve it. They let business as usual continue. Status quo conditions remain.

After endless days of meaningless discussions, Barghouti expressed disgust with “diplomatic talk.”

He showed pictures of what he saw. It exceeded some of the worst WW II devastated areas in some places, he said.

“This was not about one house being destroyed and the house next to it being destroyed,” he explained.

“This was intentional bombardment by the Israeli army and navy and air force to destroy whole neighborhoods.”

Shujaya was completely destroyed. “It was a town. It was was a city with 150,000 people…”

“Every house, every clinic, every mosque, every building was destroyed.”

“Even a home for people with disabilities was destroyed. The destruction was beyond belief, and it is there for people who want to see.”

“Huge buildings, of five, six, seven, eight storeys were completely destroyed.”

“I have never seen even in films such a level of devastation. I saw one bomb which caused a half a square kilometer hole in the ground.”

The toll throughout Gaza was horrific, said Barghouti. It was devastating. It’s catastrophic. It includes:

“18,000 homes and buildings destroyed completely, 41,000 houses partially damaged, 145 schools, eight hospitals, 13 health centers damaged.”

“180 mosques damaged, 71 destroyed completely. Even cemeteries were bombarded, 10 bombarded, nine Muslim cemeteries, one Christian cemetery.”

“They bombarded the graves.” The bones of the dead became visible. “The amount of explosives they used was beyond description.”

Tens of thousands of Gazans lost virtually everything. Their homes, belongings, money, papers, photos, passports, and memories unable to “be brought back even if there is reconstruction.”

“That is what (Israel) did to people.” It “insult(ed) humanity.” It mass  murdered Palestinians in cold blood.

Nearly half million Gazans lost their homes and personal possessions. Their loved ones are lost forever. Many still live in shelters. “In huge numbers.”

“I almost cried when I was asked to see a girl in one of these shelters.”

“She has cancer which has taken away her sight and she was half paralyzed. Her mother was with her also.”

“She had to be inside the room with 50 other people. Very hot, very humid, no showers, no clean water.”

That’s what happened to these people when they went into these shelters.”

“We found evidence of scabies, and gastroenteritis and hepatitis.”

“Some people decided to live in the rubble rather than in the shelters, because it was so humiliating to live without any privacy.”

“Sometimes they still find people who are dead under the destruction.”

“Towers, high rises, they were all destroyed. Huge devastation.”

“This building hosted 80 families. In two minutes, it was destroyed.”

“There was a man, 82 years old, who told me he spent all his life building a house and a family.”

“He had a house with four storys and 28 sons and daughters and grandchildren.”

“He went to pray during Ramadan, one evening. He came back. The house was completely destroyed, his wife was killed.”

“All the 28 sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters were killed.”

“91 families were completely annihilated. 91 families were scratched from the civil records in these attacks.”

If Gaza’s population matched America’s, “you(‘d) (have had) 400,000 killed and 1,934,000 injured, almost two million.”

“(H)ow can a country that claims to be…civilized…that has a very special relationship with the United Kingdom, that keeps speaking about the right to defend itself, ask them, how can they be allowed to” commit mass murder and destruction with impunity.

Shrapnel from its explosives cut everything. It’s “all over the place.”

“It includes very dangerous material. Tungsten and other material that is carcinogenic, and depleted uranium.”

UN safe haven refugees were willfully attacked. Israel blamed Hamas for its own crimes.

It used prohibited weapons. They included “(d)ime bombs, tungsten, depleted uranium,” white phosphorous that burns skin to the bone, flechettes and others.

Israel wanted maximum destruction, deaths and injuries. Civilians were willfully targeted. It’s official Israeli policy.

IDF attacks “destroyed water networks, sewage systems,” said Barghouti. “They destroyed the only electricity station in Gaza.”

“And they created epidemics. Up until now, in the best case scenario, people in Gaza have electricity for only six hours a day.”

“What would you do if you could not have showers every day because the water is so saline?”

“What would you do in a place where 90% of water sources are polluted and salinated, and not good for human use?”

“The devastation is unbelievable. They attacked 36 ambulances. They killed 22 first aid and health providers. They devastated eight hospitals.”

“They killed 18 journalists and attacked seven UNWRA schools. They killed five people in Shifa hospital.”

“Two disabled women were killed in a disabled centre. 450 factories were destroyed. Farms were destroyed.”

“Today there is no meat in Gaza, because all the sheep were killed in the attacks.”

“The soil is so covered in chemicals that it’s not good for human use, for farming.”

“Israel attacked Gaza in 2006, in 2008, in 2013 and in 2014. In 2014, there was one hundred times more destruction and more explosives than in all three previous wars.”

“Why? Because they are testing the world. They are testing you. They are testing every single person in humanity to see how much you can tolerate.”

“This is what the fascists did before. The fascists tested humanity to see how much it would resist and now it is time to resist Israel.”

Fascism grips Israel. Democracy is pure fantasy. Palestinians have no rights.

Gazans face slow-motion genocide. An entire population is up for grabs. World leaders able to make a difference do nothing. They support Israel’s killing machine.

Israel “tried to dehumanize us as Palestinians,” said Barghouti. “First they tried to dehumanize Hamas, then all Palestinians. Netanyahu even has the guts to try and compare Hamas with ISIS.”

It’s totally unacceptable to let Israel claim self-defense. “This is not self-defense,” said Barghouti. “This is offense.”

“Israel shouldn’t be allowed this level of impunity. Enough is enough. We have to take them to the International Criminal Court. The PLO must immediately sign the Rome Statute and take Israel to the ICC.”

“(T)his inhumanity can’t continue. There’s only one way out.” Boycott, divest, sanction, isolate and prosecute Israeli officials for high crimes against peace.

“(D)ismantle this occupation and this apartheid” once and for all. Afford Palestinians justice they’ve long been denied.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 3:25 AM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!


International Peace Activists Group holds several meetings in Damascus

Apr 13, 2014
Damascus, (SANA) A delegation from the International Peace Activists Group met Saturday Grand Mufti of the Republic Ahmad Bader-Eddin Hassoun, Minister of Tourism Bishr Yazigi and with Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch and All the East.

Hassoun hailed the unity of the Syrian people, army and leadership after 3 years of the global unjust war against Syria.

He called on the delegation to convey the true image of what is going on in Syria to the whole world which is still lying, as sometimes it says there is a sectarian war in Syria or there is a revolution.

Grand Mufti added that delegation was, closely, briefed on that the hireling terrorist groups came to Syria from 83 countries to kill the Syrians, destroy their homeland, taking their salaries from Arab and foreign countries.

Minister of Tourism Bishr Yazigi wondered about the world’s silence and ignorance of the terrorist acts perpetrated by the outlaw armed terrorist groups which destroyed the human being culture in Syria.

Yazigi called for supporting the Syrian Army as the genuine peace-maker who sacrifices itself for defending the whole world against terrorism.

In a relevant context, Patriarch Laham stressed the importance of the visit, calling for starting peace from Syria to prevail the whole region.

He pointed out that future of Syria determines the future of the world As a whole and that Christ was born in Palestine, but Christianity was born in Syria, hailing Syrian people steadfastness and aspiration to rebuild Syria, land of peace and love.

For their part, members of the delegation stressed their visit to Syria aims at getting acquainted with the truth of what is going on in it, conveying the true image to the western media and showing solidarity with the Syrian people in the face of the unjust war against their heritage and history.

Deputy Foreign and Expatriate Minister Hussam Eldin Ala’a attended the meeting.

International Peace Activists Group calls upon Syrians to work together to realize peace

Later, during a visit to Damascus University, head of the delegation Mairead Maguire said that people who love peace came from all around the world to Syria to voice rejection of takfiri terrorism, stressing the need to call things by their names away from the lies, misdirection and propaganda carried out by anti-Syrians media.


Maguire called upon Syrians to work together to realize peace through dialogue and learn from the example of other countries, voicing deep sorrow over the crimes of murder, displacement, destruction and abduction committed by terrorists.

In turn, activist Dr. Declan Hayes from Southampton University displayed images and documents showcasing US crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and other countries through the US support for terrorism.

Hayes said that the visits he conducted in Syria along with the other delegation members allowed him to get a sense of the scale of Syrians’ suffering due to the crimes of terrorists backed by states that embrace the culture of death and wars, primarily the United States.
English Bulletin

Egypt’s shameful rejection of Mairead Maguire and other peace advocates

The Syria Solidarity Movement views with sadness and dismay the Egyptian government’s denial of entry to Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire for the purpose of transiting to Gaza to attend the International Women’s Day commemorations.  Ms. Maguire is a good friend of the Syria Solidarity Movement and has played a central role in the promotion of peace, justice and human rights in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, and many other places throughout the world.
The Egyptian government knows that Ms. Maguire is an advocate and practitioner of nonviolence and that she is completely harmless to all human life.  Furthermore, the regime knows that the Egyptian people are among the most steadfast supporters of justice for Palestine. The only possible explanation for the refusal to admit Ms. Maguire, therefore, is to prevent the expression of her message of hope and solidarity to Palestinians in Gaza and to demonstrate that the Egyptian authorities will repress such thought and speech regardless of its source.  Such repression serves only the cause of the Israeli oppressor.
Egypt’s treatment of Ms. Maguire is hardly unique.  Egyptian officers used brutal force on her colleague, Medea Benjamin, who helped organize the delegation, causing her grievous bodily harm and even refusing access to medical attention.  Such violence against a peaceful visitor is unfortunately indicative of a brutal regime which has killed thousands of its own citizens expressing their opposition to the overthrow of the elected government.
Egypt is of course hardly the only perpetrator of tyranny.  One of the main sponsors of the current Egyptian government is the U.S., which provides billions of dollars in aid, even in defiance of its own laws against support for regimes that seize power in a coup d’état.  Additionally, despite the ostensible protection of free speech in the U.S., the Obama regime has prohibited Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari from traveling more than 25 miles from UN headquarters in New York in response to requests for him to speak or for any other reason.  Apparently, the expression of an alternative point of view is too much for the U.S. to bear, whether at home, in Egypt, or anywhere else it wishes to project its power.
The Syria Solidarity Movement declares its support for Mairead Maguire and other exponents of compassion, free speech, human rights and respect for diversity.  We therefore ask all people and institutions of conscience to advocate on behalf of Ms. Maguire and other spokespersons for values and principles that raise human dignity for us all.

Mairead Maguire Nominates Mother Agnes Mariam and Mussalaha Peace and Reconciliation movement, Syria, for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross with Mairead Maguire speaking in London on behalf of “Save the Children of Syria” yesterday

Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross with Mairead Maguire speaking in London on behalf of “Save the Children of Syria” yesterday
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross (civil name Fadia Laham) and the Mussalaha Reconciliation Initiative in Syria, has been nominated by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
In her letter to Nobel Institute, Mairead Maguire said:
‘At a time when the world so desperately needs to see a peaceful way forward to end the bloodshed and Conflict in Syria the Mussalaha initiative stands out as a beacon of hope showing us a better way forward, one which comes from within Syrian Society and expresses the spontaneous desire of the majority of Syrians for a peaceful path, a way forward that departs from violence and embraces a future where differences are resolved in an atmosphere of mutual respect that preserves the historic fraternity of the Syrian people. The Mussalaha initiative is an outstanding example of the resilient spirit of the Syrian people and their innate ability to resolve their difficulties, by themselves, even in the most tragic and exceptional of circumstances, we have a duty to support their work in every way possible.
Mussalaha, which translates as reconciliation, is a community-based non-violent popular initiative stemming from within Syrian civil society. Founded at the community level, it includes members of all Syria’s ethnic and religious communities who are tired of the war. Mussalaha fills a void created by the noise of weapons; it does not side with any of the warring parties, rather it embraces all. The movement says no to the continued loss of life, and yes to a nonviolent solution. The initiative says no to civil war and rejects all forms of sectarian violence and denominational strife. Its founding session was a peace congress held almost two years ago on 25th January, 2012, in the Sahara complex on the Syrian coast.
As a guest of the Mussalaha Initiative I visited Syria in May of 2013 where I met a few of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people whose lives have been torn apart by the ongoing conflict in that country. I learned from those I spoke to, both within the government and in opposition groups, that while there is a legitimate movement calling for long overdue reform in Syria, it is one of peaceful non-violence and that the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups who strive to incite inter-communal division and discord. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning conflict into one of ideological hatred. The Mussalaha Initiative has worked diligently to stem this flow of violence and heal the wounds inflicted on the social fabric of the country.
Over the last two years the Mussalaha Initiative has worked in mediation and negotiation often crossing lines of conflict in the most difficult and life threatening of circumstances. Many abducted people have been freed, prisoner swaps facilitated, humanitarian aid supplied without discrimination, evacuation of civilians from conflict zones made possible, and disarmament of local opposition fighters peacefully facilitated.
Principle among those who have worked tirelessly for this peace initiative is Mother Agnes Mariam, with courage and conviction she has been an outspoken advocate of peace, a voice seeking justice and one which has consistently called on the international community to recognize the truth with regard to what is happening in Syria. Mother Agnes Mariam’s astute observations which discredited the video evidence offered by the United States, as proof of an alleged chemical gas attack in East Ghouta, contributed to help forstall what would have proved a regionally devastating external military intervention in Syria. This heroic peacemaker has thought nothing of placing her own life on the lines for the sake of others and at great personal risk, she personally brokered a cease-fire between rebels and the Syrian authorities in Moadamiya, Damascus province. This work facilitated the transfer of over 5,000 civilians from a besieged opposition area and included the voluntary surrender of over 500 men many of whom had been armed opposition combatants.
In making this nomination for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, I believe that there is no military or paramilitary solution to the Syrian conflict and only through dialogue and negotiation can peace be reached. We urgently need a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. Mother Agnes Mariam and the Mussalaha Initiative in Syria exemplify all that is remarkable about the resilience of humanity when faced with unbelievable adversity. The Mussalaha initiative which unites people of all faiths, and none, and ethnic backgrounds, deserves to be nurtured supported and fully recognized for the enormous contribution it has made, and continues to make in saving lives, and in directing all Syrians towards the path of peace.


Posted on November 1, 2013 by

Open Letter to the American people from Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

November 1, 2013
Syria Solidarity MovementMy dear friends,As a teenager living in Belfast, I admired the American Peace Movement and many prominent figures within it. Fifty years later, two of the most inspiring people still remembered across the world are Americans: Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day.

American peace activists and civil rights workers were imprisoned, some killed. But a generation spoke and sang about love.

Like Mahatma Gandhi in India, the Berrigan Brothers in the Peace Movement and the American Civil Rights Movement show us that the path to freedom and equality is a peaceful one. This journey of transformation in the pursuit of peace and justice is a constant challenge to the entrenched powers which thrive on hatred and war; acting as a constant challenge to blind prejudice and the lies that are necessary for war.

In making this journey of love we must always acknowledge that those we regard as enemies are fellow human beings and we are called to love them. If we don’t, when do the killing fields stop?
I first came to you from Northern Ireland to speak to you about what was happening in my country. I was met with great kindness in America. Now I write to you to about Syria.

We must not allow a war to go on for decades, as many did in regards to Ireland. We must have the foresight to stand up for peace, nonviolence and reconciliation now, before the suffering is entrenched and before prejudices and lies seep deeply into the consciousness of a new generation, acting as seeds for more yet more war.

I write to you to ask your help for the people of Syria. All the people of Syria deserve your attention. Like you, they want the opportunity to live, love and labour in support of their children’s dreams. With your efforts we can make it a bright future in a peaceful and prosperous country where love will conquer all.

The people of Syria are a diverse people, a courageous and generous people with a proud history of tolerance. Over many centuries, their country has welcomed millions of disparate people seeking refuge just as the United States has done.

I visited Syria in May 2013. Despite the on-going violence, I found it to be a land of hope. I met tribal and religious leaders, political dissidents and grieving parents and widows. In Syria, there are millions of ordinary folk risking their lives for a peaceful, reconciled and united Syria they can all love.

Mother Agnes Mariam, one of the leaders of the Mussalaha (reconciliation) Movement in Syria, is on a speaking tour of America this November. Mother Agnes Mariam has sat at a table with the prime minister of Syria and has eaten olives with a rebel leader. And recently she risked her life to negotiate the safe passage of thousands of civilians and of many fighters from a conflict zone.

Your heroes, the heroes we all uphold, show us bridges of nonviolence and peace must be built between people. War stems from hatred and lies. Peace requires courage, wisdom, and love. And foresight.

Mother Agnes is bringing to America a universal message your country knows well. She presents it through the story of Syria. I encourage you to hear the story of Syria.


 Mairead Maguire
The Peace People, 224 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6GE, Northern Ireland
Phone: 0044 (0) 28 9066 346

All We Are Saying is NO More War and let it begin with Syria

by Eileen Fleming
Thursday, June 28th, 2012  

Mairead and Mordechai Vanunu, in east Jerusalem

Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire knows that a peaceful and just society can be achieved only through nonviolent means and that the path to peace lies in each of our hearts.

(BELFAST / Florida) – On 25 June 2012, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire issued the call for ‘NO to War in Syria’ and for an all inclusive dialogue to solve the conflict.

Her history proves “that a peaceful and just society can be achieved only through nonviolent means and that the path to peace lies in each of our hearts.”

A Little History of Mairead Corrigan Maguire:

In 1976, in Belfast, thousands of ordinary people throughout Northern Ireland, led by mostly women, demonstrated for an end to the killings known as “The Troubles” which began in 1969. By 1998, over thirty-four hundred people were killed in the crossfire of a brutal war against British colonial interests, revolutionary republicanism, and a revolt against the age-old, oppressive bigotry and fanaticism of religious ideologies.

On August 10, 1976, Máiread Corrigan Maguire’s two nephews and one of her nieces, all little children, were killed on a Belfast street corner.

“A British army patrol shot and killed an IRA gunman, Danny Lennon, whose car then plowed into the sidewalk, killing the children, and severely injuring Mairead’s sister Anne, who died several years later. In a land soaked with blood, their deaths came as a severe shock. Suddenly, thousands of people began to say, “Enough is enough. The killing and violence have to stop.”

Máiread, Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, organized weekly peace marches and demonstrations were attended by over half a million people throughout Ireland and England.

Máiread understands “that a peaceful and just society can be achieved only through nonviolent means and that the path to peace lies in each of our hearts.”

Fueled by her faith, Maried, a lone voice of wisdom, compassion and common sense stood on the streets of Belfast and said “No — No to the IRA, No to the UDA and LVF (the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force, unionist/ loyalist paramilitaries), No to the British government’s emergency laws and interrogation centers and human rights abuses, No to injustice, bigotry, discrimination, No to any desecration of human life and dignity.’

In Belfast during the 1980′s and early 90′s, Máiread’s vision of non-violence was dismissed, ridiculed, and ignored, while those who called for retaliatory vengeance and violence were applauded. From the start, Maried understood that her dream had to reach beyond the narrow boundaries of North Ireland to embrace a non-violent future for all humanity.

After a year of political negotiations, a breakthrough settlement was reached on Good Friday 1998, bringing Northern Ireland to an Easter dawn of peace.

Maried and Betty were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for what had once been unimaginable became reality and Maried continues to envision the unimaginable: justice and peace in Israel Palestine.

It was during my November 2008 trip to Israel Palestine when I met Mairead Maguire:

The Ongoing NAKBA and Vanunu
Read more…

Mairead Maguire’s 25 June 2012 statement:

People around the world are deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Syria.

While we are being presented with some perspective of what is occurring on the ground to the people of Syria, the door seems closed to others.

We search for voices we can trust, voices which point to a peaceful, lasting solution to the conflict. We search for truth because it is truth which will set the Syrian people free.

Truth is difficult to find, so through the haze of conflicting narratives we must inevitably hear the voices and wisdom of men and women of peace in Syria.

Many may believe that there is a fight going on in Syria for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’.

We can be seduced into thinking there is a magic wand or instant formula to mix that will create a democratic country, but there are none.

If it is a democracy a people want they must strive for it in their own way.

It is said the Greek idea of democracy was that people would be equally valued.

This is something every society has to strive for at every point in its history; it itself is a ‘revolutionary’ concept and a nonviolent revolutionary action.

Strive to value everyone equally. It is an idea, a motivation for a better world that doesn’t require blood; it requires the hard work of people and the nurturing of a community spirit; a constant growing of peace and it starts within each human heart.

Who are the voices of peace in regard to the crisis in Syria?

Many of them we cannot hear from where we are standing. They are the mothers and father and children who want to leave their homes to walk to market or to school without fear. They are the people, who have been working hard for Syria, for the idea of Syria as a secular and modern country.
There are some Syrian voices that have been heard consistently since the beginning of the crisis. Many of them are anonymous and they speak to us about injustices and atrocities. Numbers are given and fingers are pointed. The blame may be apportioned correctly or it may not.

Everything is happening too quickly; commentators and politicians are making decisions with haste and looking only in one corner for support for their certainty. But in the heat of the madness of violent ethnic/political conflict we must listen and ask questions and hear and speak with some uncertainty because it is certainty that can take a people and a country in a rush to war.

The face of the Mufti of Syria is hardly known in the western world, but if we have learned anything from past conflict, it is the importance of all inclusive dialogue.

He and many other Syrians who have peace in their hearts should be invited to sit with a council of elders from other countries, to tell of their stories and proposals for ways forward for the Syrian people.

The United Nations was not set up to provide an arena for the voices and games of the powerful; rather it should be a forum for such Syrian voices to be heard.

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the Syrian people and find peaceful ways forward in order to stop this mad rush towards a war the mothers and fathers and children of Syria do not want and do not deserve.

We all know there are Imams, priests and nuns, fathers, mother, young people all over Syria crying out for peace and when the women in hijabs shout to the world after a bombing or a massacre in Syria ‘haram, haram’ let us hear and listen to them.

We are sure there are many heroes in Syria among them, Christian Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests, and religious.

A modern hero of peace, one whose name we do know and whose voice we have heard is Mother Agnes Mariam*.

 Mother Agnes Mariam

In her community her voice has been clear, pure and loud. And it should be so in the West. Like many people in Syria she has been placed in life threatening situations, but for the sake of peace she has chosen to risk her own existence for the safety and security of others. She has spoken out against the lack of truth in our media regarding Syria and about the terror and chaos which a ‘third force’ seems to be spreading across the country.

Her words confront and challenge us because they do not mirror the picture of events in Syria we have built up in our minds over many months of reading our newspapers and watching the news on our televisions.

Much of the terror has been imported, we learn from her.

She can tell us about the thousands of Christian refugees, forced to flee their homes by an imported Islamist extreme. But Mother Agnes Mariam’s concerns, irrespective of religion, are for all the victims of the terror and conflict, as ours must be.

In all our hearts we know War is not the answer for Syria (Nor for Iran).
Intervention in Syria would only make things worse.

I believe all sides are committing war crimes and the provision of arms will only results in further death. The US/UK/NATO and all foreign governments should stay out of Syria and keep their funding and troops out of Syria.

We should support those Syrians who work for peace in Syria and who seek a way of helping the 22 million or so people of Syria to resolve their own conflict without furthering the chaos or violence.

*Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross is a greek-Catholic (Melkite) nun of Lebanese / Palestinian descent and has lived and worked in Syria for 18 years. She restored the ancient ruined monastery of St. James the Mutilated at Qara, in Homs province where she founded an order which serves the local and wider community. In 2010 the monastery welcomed 25,000 visitors both Syrian and international.

-Mairead Maguire

The Peace People, 224 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6GE, Northern IrelandPhone: 0044 (0) 28 9066 346 Email:

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate resists deportation from Israel


Mairead Maguire has been barred from entering Israel as a result of her participation in the Rachel Corrie Gaza-bound aid ship in June.

Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire refused to board a U.K.-bound flight on Tuesday after being barred by security from entering Israel.
Maguire’s entry was barred due to her participation in an attempt to violate Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip aboard the aid ship Rachel Corrie in June. The vessel was intercepted and boarded by the Israeli Navy and led to Ashdod harbor, with Maguire being deported from Israel, along with the ship’s other passengers.
Prior to her deportation, Maguire signed a document stating she would refrain from entering Israel again.
Mairead Maguire standing alongside the aid ship MV Rachel Corrie, May 12, 2010.

Israeli authorities prevented the Irish Nobel laureate from entering the country upon her arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday, proceeding to escort Maguire to a U.K.-bound flight.

However, Maguire resisted her deportation, causing a scene and refusing to board the flight. The flight’s captain then declared he would allow her to board the plane, finally bringing security Israeli authorities to decide that the Nobel laureate would remain in the country until the following day.

On Wednesday the British embassy is expected to send a delegate to escort Maguire to the United Kingdom.
Maguire won the 1976 peace prize for her work with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

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