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"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

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John Champneys, Tunbridge Wells

My letter in your March edition (PN 2567) was dashed off when paying my sub and I meant it to be private. The remark in it which you rightly criticise is not what I intended, quite wrong, and I withdraw it and apologise.

The muslim religion is a great one, and its learned clerics great for running many things in civil society. Some of them still want to form a theocratic government, making it difficult to accommodate, as equals, those of other religions and of none. It is this to which I intended to refer.

I shall be more careful in future, until I finally lose my marbles!

Editor Response: 

Thank you, John, for your response. We should clarify how your meant-to-be-private letter ended up in the paper. Because it contained an important comment on a key part of PN, its commitment to nonviolent revolution, we thought it should be on the letters page (and indeed it’s sparked an important reflection printed below). We rang up and read the entire letter out to you over the phone, and you kindly gave your permission for it to be printed. It’s the first time we’ve ever done this, and it is also the last. We will attach your letter in this issue to the online version of the previous letter. – eds

Transformation not revolution

Diana Francis, Bath

It was really thought-provoking to read Clare Cochrane’s Diary together with John Champneys’ letter in the March issue of PN.

Clare’s opting for ‘heart and values’ rather than ideology for her anchor resonated strongly with my own feelings about what makes for peace.

Clare said she was still for nonviolent revolution. On that I was with John (though not with all of his letter). I have reached a point where that matter needs serious debate among us as a movement, as I suggested in an article two years ago (PN 2544).

We have seen all too many recent instances of what nonviolent revolution can turn into, not only in the Middle East but now in Ukraine, when people are deeply divided and one side is trying to impose its will on others. Transformation is what is needed and won’t happen all at once. We need, in the end, to change minds and hearts.

Editor Response: 

Thank you, Diana. We invite further dialogue on this point from other readers. We do want to point out, in the meantime, that we see a difference between a ‘nonviolent insurrection’, as in Egypt and Ukraine, and ‘nonviolent revolution’ as defined by George Lakey and Howard Clark (in books that PN has published recently). - eds

Trust the people

John Lynes, Hastings

Please reassure Norman Finkelstein (PN 2567) that John Kerry’s framework agreement will not put paid to Palestinian hopes. Both the Israeli knesset and the Palestinian authority have made it clear that their acceptance of any agreement will be subject to referendums. There would be no point in offering a framework which could not be supported by reasonable people in both communities.

I was disappointed to see Norman’s interview on the front page of Peace News. I have not seen Kerry’s Framework Agreement. Neither has Norman. But it’s likely to offer the best prospect yet for a just peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Peace News should welcome it. Prophets of nonviolence and reconciliation long to bring peace and hope to the Middle East. They need our support – now!

Gloom-mongering intellectuals don’t belong on your front page.

Peace and love

Editor Response: 

Thank you, John, for drawing attention to the role of ordinary Palestinians. When Norman Finkelstein was asked, in his original New Left Project interview in January, whether Palestinians would resist ‘a renunciation of the right of return’, he replied: ‘This scenario is more romantic theory than current reality. The place is hopelessly fragmented. Gaza itself is alien to the West Bank now. What did the West Bankers do when Gazans were being massacred in 2008-09? Were there large demonstrations? We have to be realistic about the current situation. There’s no concerted will among Palestinians. They’re real, living persons, not a myth. Right now, the people’s spirits are shattered.... as of now, there aren’t visible signs that Palestinians are ready, able or willing to resist an imposed solution.

‘Quite the contrary, if the final agreement is sufficiently nebulous to the untutored eye (like the 1993 Oslo agreement), and is sweetened with a huge “aid” package, Palestinians might, however reluctantly, go for it. The US/EU will have three years to soften the Palestinians.’

Repeated leaks in the Israeli press and elsewhere about the Kerry framework support Norman Finkelstein’s charge that the main Israeli settlements are going to be excluded from Palestinian control in any new ‘state’. Finkelstein deserves to be heard. We still believe his warnings deserve front page treatment. If he is proven wrong, no one will be happier than us, but the evidence so far is thoroughly alarming. – eds

PS We should alert readers to the fact that John Lynes, who has spent a lot of time in Hebron as part of Christian Peacemaker Teams, has a lot of material on the Israel-Palestine conflict on his website:

Street-selling man

Dennis Gould, Stroud

Readers of Peace News may wonder how they can help apart from reading and subscribing to the paper?

One enjoyable way is to send for extra copies to sell locally – on the High Street, or at the market. My experience over many decades is to have a bookstall on the local market – as well as having many copies of Peace News, having secondhand books to support a few new Penguins and Puffins. Choose the books you like – your personal passion. There is greater need for bookstalls today as most of the community bookshops founded in the 1960s and 1970s have sadly disappeared. Although, contrary to this trend, Five Leaves Bookshop has recently opened in Nottingham – opened by Five Leaves Press’s Ross Bradshaw.

You will have fun doing a bookstall on the local market – rents are cheap – and you will meet like-minded people as well as a cross-section of people.

Get in touch with Housmans (Peace News) Bookshop and Freedom Press Bookshop for new radical, libertarian… pacifist and anarchist books.

Send for 10 copies of Peace News and give it a go?