Dialogue for Peace - April 26, 2002
South Asia and the Middle East:
Crises and Possibilities
Letter from Angana Chatterji
The second Dialogue
for Peace was held in Namaste Hall, on April 26, 6-9.45 pm.
About 175 people
attended and it was a powerful event. Namaste Hall was potent
and sacred with peace messages, music, candles, flowers, and
the energy of commitment.
I thank all members
of the staff, students, administration, and faculty for their
support, words of encouragement, guidance and help. I am immensely
A. The evening
opened with Judith Kate Friedman, Linda Hirschhorn, Alison
Lewis, Elisabeth Stuart, singers from 'Vocolot', a music group
that fuses folk, jazz and cantorial vocal traditions. Their
music, rooted in universal heart, social conscience and Jewish
soul, communicates a powerful vision of world peace and reconciliation.
Vocolot sings in English, Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish, and Arabic,
in original works and new renderings of ancient songs and
which, there were three panels: 1. Enabling Peace in Israel/Palestine.
2. Hindu Fundamentalism in India. 3. War, Reconstruction and
Nation Building in Afghanistan.
4. The speakers
Shapiro, Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology, California
Institute of Integral Studies.
Hanan Rasheed, National Executive Secretary, Palestinian
Mitchell Plitnick, Advocate, A Jewish Voice for Peace.
Angana Chatterji, Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology,
California Institute of Integral Studies.
Ravi Rajan, Professor, Environmental Studies, University
of California, Berkeley.
Iftekhar Hai, Scholar, United Muslims of America Interfaith
Farhad Azad, Chair, Arts & Humanities Committee, Society
of Afghan Professional.
Latifa Popal, Founder, Peace and Reconciliation.
Randall Hayes, Director, Rainforest Action Network.
5. There were numerous
and valuable contributions from others present.
addressed issues connected to nationalism, citizenship, secularism,
war and peace. Speakers were from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian,
Buddhist heritage and affiliations. Speakers said:
1. That the Israeli
State must stop the brutalization of the Palestinian people
and take accountability for the Palestinian diaspora. That
the future must ensure a Palestinian State that peacefully
coexists with the sate of Israel.
2. That India must
commit to a secular and democratic society that addresses
the entrenched oppressions based on caste, tribe, class, gender,
religion, ethnicity. That violence in the name of religion
has to stop. That India must accord full and executable rights
to minority groups, including Muslims, Christians, tribals,
women, and various other communities.
3. That the international
community must support Afghanistan in her reconst ruction.
That we must question the politics of international aid and
internal inequities that govern the distribution of resources.
4. That they condemned
the September 11 attacks on the United States, and the fabric
of resistance connected to the use of terror. That the long
term response of the United States, the worlds most powerful
democracy, must be mediated by concerns of a just peace for
her citizens and others worldwide. That the US adopt a sustainable
energy policy that allows her to broker peace in the Middle
East. That those in the United States working with social
and environmental justice must call for citizens action and
governmental resolve in the US toward domestic justice and
ethical foreign and trade policy.
D. The Dialogue
For Peace Received Words Of Support From Numerous Scholars,
Activists and Concerned Citizens Worldwide Including:
Director, Vasundhara, Orissa, India.
Medea Benjamin, Director, Global Exchange.
Dorsey Blake, Pastor, Church for the Fellowship of
All Peoples, and Vice-President, Community Learning, University
for Creation Spirituality.
Sharad Chari, Professor, University of Michigan.
Partha Chatterjee, Professor, Columbia University.
Bina Chaudhury, Co-Founder, California Institute of
Ahmad Dallal, Professor, Islamic History, Stanford
Steven Goodman, California Institute of Integral Studies.
Abdul JanMohamed, Professor, University of California,
Smitu Kothari, Scholar-activist, Lokayan, Delhi, India.
Michael Lerner, Rabbi, Tikkun, Berkeley.
Adi Patel, Janvikas, Ahmedabad, India.
Sudhir Patnaik, Kashipur Support Group, Orissa, India.
Penny Rosenwasser, Peace Activist, Middle East Children's
Alliance, Coalition of Jews for Justice, and Bay Area Women
Jim Ryan, California Institute of Integral Studies.
Agha Saeed, Professor, University of California, Berkeley.
Madhu Sarin, Scholar and Activist, India.
Joseph Subbiondo, President, California Institute of
WHY CERTAIN SPEAKERS AND TOPICS:
Through the Dialogues
for Peace, the commitment is to address injustice and ally
with those marginalized, and to support non violent struggles.
We seek to build communities of peace, hope and solidarity.
We seek to address and give voice to issues that are under
represented at CIIS and in the Bay Area.
The Dialogues seek
to explore issues in some depth. In doing so, we are aware
that there are numerous, multiple and complex positions held
by stakeholders related to issues of enormous social and political
significance. We understand that our forums are not representative
of all these positions.
In the invitations
extended for the Dialogues for Peace, the call is to invite
'People from multiethnic/national, diverse faith and political
backgrounds, involved in responding to the above through diverse
strategies...' This being so, for the second Dialogue for
Peace, we invited speakers who addressed violence and injustice
in India, Isreal/Palestine and Afghanistan.
We did not invite
speakers yesterday that would justify the mistreatment of
Palestinians by the Israeli State, or the bombings in Afghanistan.
We did not invite speakers who would justify the planned carnage
against Gujarati Muslims in India recently. We did not invite
speakers that support armed and violent responses to injustice.
The Dialogues for
Peace respond to the all important task of foregrounding marginal
perspectives and building emancipatory community. My colleagues,
li felong commitments and practices, guide me in these decisions.
I am also thankful
that the Dialogues are only one very humble effort in the
diversity of all ongoing and forthcoming actions here at CIIS,
in the Bay Area, and globally to build emancipatory community.