The Public Square

Gary Storm on Initiatives of Change International, an NGO promoting peace between Israel and Palesti

Gary Storm on Initiatives of Change International, an NGO promoting peace between Israel and Palestine

My name is Gary Storm. I am a resident of Urbana and a member of the Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative.

Over the past summer, Rajmohan Ghandi, a human rights and peace activist and Research Professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies here at UIUC, traveled to the West Bank and Israel. He did so as President of Initiatives of Change International, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. His purpose was to learn more about local efforts to employ non-violent means for achieving peace in the area and to promote such approaches among both Palestinians and Israelis. As the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi and a life long student of non-violence, Rajmohan seemed just the right person for these tasks.

When the Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative, a new group promoting community education, learned of Professor Ghandis trip, it approached him about sharing his experiences with the UC community upon his return. He agreed to do so, and a program has been scheduled this coming Sunday afternoon at 2:30 in the Champaign Public Library. It is being called, The Role of Non-Violence in Palestinian-Israeli Relations: A Conversation with Rajmohan Ghandi.

As it turns out, the timing of this Conversation could not have been more fortuitous. Not only are diplomatic efforts currently underway to promote direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, but the United Nations annual International Day of Peace is September 21, two days after the Library program. As a result, the UC Peace Initiative hopes to build upon energy and ideas generated by the conversation with Professor Ghandi and host a second meeting on Peace Day where proposals for follow-up activities can identified and later pursued. Details about this follow-up meeting will be given at the close of the Library session.

In an article in the New York Times last spring just before Professor Ghandis trip, Ethan Bronner wrote, Something is stirring in the West Bank. With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor for failing to end the Israeli occupation, a third way was emerging, one that was avoiding violence. Please come to the Champaign Public Library this Sunday at 2:30 to learn more about and to discuss the potential of this third, non-violent, way of working toward peace in the Middle East. Thank you.