SVF held a conference to discuss community peace in the West Bank city of Nablus on June 23, 2013. More than 100 local youth and university graduates and representatives of local NGOs participated at the conference. The conference was funded by the European Union.

SVF’s representative, Hassan Alkhatuib, welcomed the participants, emphasizing on the need to continue the efforts of spreading concepts of community peace, tolerance , dialogue and reconciliation.

Alkhatuib ran the conference with the help of a paper work, produced by distinguished writer Imtiyaz Almaghreby, “Role of women in promoting culture of community-based peace”

Through her paper, Almaghreb maintained that Palestinian women continue to struggle for the sake of ending current political split and such a struggle has been yet represented in peaceful demonstrations. According to Almaghreby, Palestinian women also continue to struggle for the sake of a democratic society 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 praised 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.

Islamic preacher, Zuhair Aldeby. presented a similar paper, saying that 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 maintained 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 never dismisses others and rather encourages interaction, based on rational dialogue, tolerance and mercy.

The local preacher also believed that Islam has ever been based on a comprehensive vision that is void of partisan tendencies, saying that a well-structured society would lead to security and stability.

He maintained that 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 rapid changes around the world, Aldeb’y 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.

From his part, media practitioner, Atef Sa’d produced 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-based 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-based peace, once such media is backed by the law.

He maintained that community peace and defense of 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 that is rather unstable.

During the second session of the same conference, ran by Dr. Fakhry Aldwaikat, of the Alquds Open  University, Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file in theWest Bank, produced a paper work in which he talked about popular peaceful resistance, adding that 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 inPalestine, is a fine model for dialogue among religions.

Nayrouz maintained that the city ofBethlehem, 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, from their part, recommended the following :

  • Keeping up stability and community peace;
  • Expanding and generalizing idea of youth participation in social, economic , cultural and political development;
  • 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 regarding political rivalry at the internal level and spreading culture of community peace among local members of the community, in a way that would upgrade the Palestinian society.
  •  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 connectivity and mutual respect within the framework of the national interests.
  • Promoting supremacy of law, as being the safeguard of the community.