Ending Fear and Violence in the World Today

We live in a violent world. And fear, especially fear of losing what we have gained and achieved (politically, socially, economically, personally, emotionally, religiously, etc.) is the motivation fueling this violence. Fear, both real and manipulated, has become the central lens we use in how we relate to others.

Our identity groups are imbued in fear. We are pushed by many of our leaders to fear other ethnic groups, racial groups, religious groups, political groups, gender groups – anything which is different than us. They tell us that these groups threaten our security and stability; they create conflict, they don’t accept our “way of life,” and they don’t recognize and appreciate our identity. We have come to believe that they are out to destroy us and what we believe systems; they are simply “evil.”

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Talk at 10 year Combatants for Peace Anniversary

On July 15, 2016, Combatants for Peace celebrated their 10 year anniversary during the Freedom March Protest organized by them monthly. I was honored to have been asked to give a talk during the protest. The following is a text of my talk.

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Dear friends, dear you who still dare to dream and believe…

We have come here today representing different tribes, identities, religions, cultures and languages of this land. Representing the global consciousness of morality, peace, justice, freedom and the right of every individual to live in dignity, honor, and respect.

We have come here on behalf of every woman, man and child who died or suffered a loss as a result of the violence in this land. We have come here on behalf of every Palestinian home that has been demolished, every Palestinian tree uprooted, and every Palestinian child who could not find a drop of water to drink this summer morning because of the Israeli military control over even a most basic human need… water.

We send a clear message to our leaders (Israelis and Palestinians) and to the international community. On this day and in this hour and in this place, our voice is united against injustice and united for freedom and dignity. We say that the pain we experienced and continue to experience is because of the continued, growing, inhumane oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people.

We, the people of the land say that it is up to us to achieve a real vision of peace and justice. We can not deny that fear, hated and resignation have now taken over and that the task at hand may seem impossible, but true peacemakers are the ones that look the impossible in the eye and make it a possibility.

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Redefining my Friend and my Foe

friend-or-foe

I grew up living under the Israeli military occupation, in a situation where my friends and my foes were clearly defined, those who were for the occupation and those who wanted the occupation to end. I witnessed the Israeli army and Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. So when it came to Israeli society it was clear, there was the left and the right, the settler and the Israeli on the other side of the “green line”, the secular and the religious, the activist and the soldier … the friend and the foe.

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When Illusions become Traps

On September 29, 2012, the Palestinian leadership went to the United Nations and overwhelmingly received a “non-member observing state status” in the General Assembly. I was sitting with friends who were glued to TV screens watching intensely, even with tears of joy rolling down their eyes as the green lights flicked on in the General Assembly floor with one state after the other saying “yes” to state #194. It was as if my friends were watching the lottery numbers for the biggest jackpot in history being announced and they were holding on to the winning ticket.

Image: UN-PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL-DIPLOMACY

My arguments as to why I thought this was not the best of ideas and how the energy of the Palestinians and its leadership should be utilized for something more focused on ending the occupation and oppression fell on deaf ears. I heard things like “You don’t understand the significance of this;” “this is a new phase of the struggle,” “now we can do things we never were able to do in the past” (in reference to legal claims at the International Court of Justice), and of course the most common “This is a great symbolic victory!!!” Yes, symbolically winning the lottery is a great thing indeed…

Nothing of any significance happened this past year to change the reality of the Israeli military occupation and Israeli government policy of building more settlements and restricting more the lives of Palestinians. The change that has taken place has been within the Palestinian community, and I feel it is more dangerous to the Palestinians than the occupation itself.

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Give a Gift This Christmas Season to Peace in Bethlehem

Dear Friends,

I wish you a beautiful and blessed time as we remember the birth of the Prince of Peace. In Bethlehem the busyness of Christmas is apparent, hotels are full, streets are decorated and people from all over the world are here to celebrate the miracle birth. As i write this email I hear in the distance some scout troops practicing their drum rolls for the last time before they head to Manger Square.

Much is said and much has been written about Bethlehem at Christmas; talk of the wall, of checkpoints, of restrictions and of occupation.

Similar things existed 2000 years ago, and in a place where there was war, oppression, and very little hope … the miracle happened… Life, Joy, Peace and Salvation came to earth…

It is time we bring that pure and simple message of peace and love back to the place where it was born. It is time Bethlehem shines again with its message of goodwill and true healing to humanity.

Yes, we may not have the specific answers of “how” to get there, but we will not surrender to the “not knowing”. We will work, study, research and engage in finding the means … and for this we need your help and partnership.

Please take a look at the following Youtube. It is a brief introduction to where we are heading as an organization. We are very excited about this vision to establish a peace and nonviolence research and learning center in the heart of Bethlehem and hope to share more of this vision with you as supporters and partners of this work.

Beautiful greetings to you and your loved ones and my best wishes for the year to come.

For contributions you can contact me directly:  sami@holylandtrust.org or

http://holylandtrust.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=201&Itemid=154

In the name of the Prince of Peace and Love,

Sami Awad
Holy Land Trust

Giving 1 Percent of Jesus to Somalia

Published in the Huffington Post

A deep pain grabbed my heart when I saw the television news ticker: “30,000 children died in Somalia in the last three months.” A major cause of my pain came from a personal feeling of guilt and shame when I realized how fortunate my family is.

This week, our third daughter, who was born prematurely, came home after spending her first month of life in the hospital. From the moment she was born she received the highest level of care available here in Bethlehem. A group of expert Palestinian doctors monitored her progress every hour using the latest technology. There were multiple staff members attending to her care with beeps, rings and dings coming from every machine around her crib. Insurance was not a problem and covered 90 percent of the costs related to her long stay in the hospital. I could not have asked or prayed for anything better. However, my joy is overshadowed with pain knowing that 30,000 Somali children perished. Sorrow grips me knowing that hundreds of thousands of children across the world do not survive their first month because of a $2 vaccine that was not provided for their mothers.

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