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Lucy Nusseibeh is a Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies who founded ‘Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy’ (MEND) – an NGO which aspires to establish a non-violent Palestinian civil society – in 1998. The organisation is active in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Lucy – the daughter of British Philosopher of Language and leading proponent of Ordinary Language Philosophy John Langshaw Austin – married Palestinian Professor of Philosophy and former President of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem Sari Nusseibeh in late 1973. Lucy and Sari have three sons – Jamal, Absal, Buraq – and a daughter – Nuzha. The Nusseibeh family has been living in Jerusalem for more than 1,300 years. They belong to one of the 14 tribes of early Islam.
Lucy – who has been staying in Jerusalem since 1978 – recently visited eastern Indian city of Kolkata to attend an international seminar on refugees organised by Calcutta Research Group. On the sidelines of the event, she shared her views on various issues with the local media.
Lucy admitted that she initially faced difficulties in adjusting with the environment in Jerusalem after spending so many years in Oxford! However, her husband helped Lucy a lot by creating an Oxford-like cultural environment at their Jerusalem residence. The British-born political activist stressed that Philosophy, as a subject, teaches us to doubt everything and not to accept those which exist, apart from helping overcome the crises. So, she is indebted to the subject in a way.
Lucy informed the Indian media that the Palestinians marked the 71st International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29, 2018. On that day in 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (Resolution 181 (II)). The world body not only recognised Israel as an Independent state, but also acknowledged the right of Arab residents of Palestine to return to their own country. Unfortunately, many of us forget this day, stressed Lucy, adding that it’s the day to remember the problems faced by thousands of homeless Palestinians for more than seven decades.
When asked whether it would be possible for the global community to arrange a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Hamas movement, the activist said that it could be possible, but difficult! According to Lucy, many people peacefully gather in Gaza every Friday to stage protests as they want to return to their homes. She admitted that intolerance still exists in the region, as some Israeli and Palestinian leaders want to take advantage of this. The polarisation will certainly serve their interests, she insisted. At the same time, Lucy expressed hope that both the parties would be able to resolve the crisis through peaceful negotiation, saying that the Israelis and the Palestinians would have to show restraint for that. She told the press that both sides also have some gentlemen who are in favour of peaceful solution of the crisis. However, they don’t want to come to the limelight!
Lucy didn’t forget to mention that women could have played an important role in resolving the Palestine-Israel crisis, as both Palestinian and Israeli women suffered a lot and their sufferings brought them closer to each other. Therefore, it is very much possible for them to sit together and to find a peaceful solution. However, Lucy admitted that the situation changed in 2000 after the failure of the Camp David Accord (signed by Israel and Egypt in 1979). She recalled that the First Intifada – a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1987-91 – was a peaceful event! Unfortunately, the failure of the Intifada changed the equation and the crisis deepened.
Meanwhile, Lucy slammed the Israeli authorities for intentionally projecting the Palestinian mothers as people who use their children as shields against the Israeli forces. The Israelis are doing so in order to create inhuman images of the Arab mothers, she claimed. The move has already influenced a number of peace-loving Jewish mothers, who have developed a negative idea about the Arab mothers. In such a situation, women can’t play any positive role, said Lucy.
The political activist believes that the Israelis had made a mistake by sending her husband to a jail, although Sari Nusseibeh is commonly known as a centrist politician in Palestine. The move triggered worldwide protests, as the global community rightly realised that the Israelis tried to disrupt the peace process and to provoke the Palestinians, stressed Lucy. She further claimed that the move inspired the hard-liners.
A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli border policeman
Lucy explained that the ongoing civil war in Syria once again changed the scenario in recent times. With a huge number of migrants taking shelters in neighbouring Arab nations, Europe and even in some Latin American countries, the international community has started exploring avenues to resolve crises in West Asia through peaceful negotiation. Peace-loving nations are not only worried about Syria, but also about Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine.
Lucy made clear that she set up the MEND not to teach the Palestinians how to organise protests, as the Palestinian people have been staging peaceful protests since 1920. It is basically a platform through which she shares her views on different social issues with the Palestinians and tries to provide them with moral support. Before leaving Kolkata, the visiting activist thanked India for maintaining cordial ties with Palestine for so many decades…
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