Oct 10, 2023

Terrorist Attacks by Hamas- Builders vs. Destroyers

As someone who has dedicated my life to build bridges between people, most centrally among Israelis and Palestinians committed to resolve their conflict and build a better future for their children (ie., OneVoice & PeaceWorks Inc), I hope everyone will unanimously and vocally condemn the appalling terrorist attacks by Hamas. Hamas proudly targeted women and children as hostages. Ukrainian President Zelenskyysaid it best: terror like that perpetrated by Hamas must be eradicated or else violent extremism metastasizes and harms us all.

It is important to understand that behind all of this is the Islamic Republic Regime repressively ruling over Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei’s senior advisor, a General in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, acknowledged their role in the “proud operation.” Another proxy of the Iranians, Hezbollah, is “evaluating” the situation and could attack from the north. It is very possible that Iranian-funded terrorists in the West Bank and even Jerusalem will escalate. They are trying to scuttle a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, using Palestinian and Israeli lives as their pawns to sacrifice.

While there is valid debate about how to ensure that peace between Israelis and the rest of the Arab world is sustainable and leads to prosperity, freedom, dignity and security for Israelis, Palestinians, and all of their neighbors, there should be zero tolerance for the systemic use of terrorism across the region by the Iranian regime, which has held its people and the region hostage for decades, and has played a role in derailing peace efforts for far too long. Indeed, Iran has been fueling the tragedy in Ukraine, supplying drones that have killed thousands. All of us who care about the freedoms that liberal democracies provide us must stand steadfastly against this evil alliance of totalitarian states.

We stand in solidarity and support with all our team on the ground: the valiant Israeli and Palestinian activists trying to build a movement of moderates against violent extremism, the courageous leaders trying to ensure that rule of law, democracy, freedom, dignity, and respect for all peoples of the region are the guiding posts for a long term resolution to the conflict. Our priority is their safety, including of our Israeli activists who live in the south, and our Palestinian peace activists that live in Gaza. In parallel, our partner movements on the ground are working to retool their human infrastructure to help Israeli and Palestinian citizens affected by these terrorist acts. And we are building a global campaign to support the requisite response to eradicate terrorism and violent absolutism.

Many friends have asked what they can do to respond. The immediate responsibility we all have is to vocally condemn terrorism in all its forms, to recognize Israel’s right to defend itself – and to remind people that, in any similar circumstance, they would expect their government to do the same and to take all necessary steps to hold terrorists and their sponsors accountable. Over the coming days, we will share ways that people can support Israeli and Palestinian people who are suffering from this war that Hamas and Iran purposefully unleashed, as well as to mobilize society towards constructive steps to awaken moderate voices, which is harder than ever when violent extremists take society hostage and push us all to partisan sides.

We must remember that we are living in an era where we are being told that this is a conflict of Left Vs. Right, or Jew vs Muslim, or Israeli vs Arab, or Red vs Blue, and on and on. The truth is that this is a global challenge for moderates to stand up against violent extremism and terrorist absolutism in all of its forms. The reality is THIS IS A CONFLICT OF BUILDERS VS. DESTROYERS. And we all need to join as Builders, not just to eradicate hatred and terror, but to supplant it with a better future for all.

builders          middle east

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End of Year Note 2023

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As we approach the close of this tumultuous year, I am reflecting on the challenges we’ve experienced in pursuit of our mission to foster kindness in the US and across the world. 

It has been a difficult journey marked by the rise of extremism, lack of civility, and various forms of racism – including a dramatic rise in antisemitic attacks and reports of anti-Muslim hate – that have tested the fabric of our humanity.

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While social media amplifies voices of hate and extremism, we cannot allow ourselves to be consumed by anger or to become more radical ourselves. When we do, we unwittingly contribute to greater division.

To build, we must commit to develop the skills to bridge differences and solve problems across lines of difference (for concrete tips on how to do so, read this letter and listen to this Axios podcast with Lonnie Ali, co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, sharing concrete tips on how to do so). We must cultivate the habits of curiosity, compassion, and courage to embrace authentic pluralism.

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