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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6

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18/12/2006

Welcome to 911 Power to the Peaceful Festival

Robi Damelin about her latest visit to the U.S.A.

Eleven hours of El-Al with no room for my tired old feet, surely they should spoil me a little after all the schlepping I do , even the man at the desk in New York recognizes me by now.

First day World Bank in Washington to explore the possibility of having the Offering Reconciliation Exhibition there. Looks good and we hope it will happen in April,2007. Then on to Boston to Brandeis University to arrange a date there, we settled on March 18 - 25, 2007. This will also include an educational program.

Next Nadwa arrives and is quite upset to learn that I have stopped smoking after all we have been partners in the nicotine crime since we met and many happy smoke filled days we had under the disapproving eyes of our American hosts.

The main purpose of this trip was to attend a conference hosted by Peaceful Tomorrows a group of Bereaved Families who all lost immediate family members on 9/11. This year is the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. Peaceful tomorrows have also chosen a path of dialog instead of hate and revenge.

30 terror victims from around the world joined with families of those killed in September 11th attacks to create a new coalition to promote effective, nonviolent solutions to terrorism. Gathering at a conference , victims from 15 countries, including Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Russia, Rwanda, Colombia, Sudan, Indonesia, Algeria , Spain, and Italy pledged to use their personal experience of violence as a starting point for creating and promoting new initiatives for peace.

 After spending several days in a beautiful if not somewhat Spartan retreat, we issued the following statement as a group: "We are a global network of organizations comprised of people who lost loved ones to,or were directly affected by,war,nuclear weapons, terrorism, genocide, organized crime and political violence. We work together to break the cycles of violence and revenge, and are committed to honoring the memories of the victims and to the dignity of the survivors. Using our collective experience and skills, we are dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of violence and to promoting non-violence as the most effective strategy for resolving conflict.

We pledge to support and amplify each other's efforts across diverse communities, recognizing that we derive our strength from our common experience of loss and our common hope for a world free of violence."

San Francisco Welcome to 911 Power to the Peaceful Festival created by a wonderful friend musician and human being, Michael Franti, who invited Nadwa and I to be part of this exciting and crazy day. 60,000 people spread themselves out at the Golden Gate Park. It was incredible to see all the colors of the spectrum all the styles imaginable and all felt comfortable. Michael invited the two of us onto the stage, I can not describe how I could feel the beat of the music through my feet and the energy and excitement of the crowd. Even this granny got to enjoy the sound. I looked at Nadwa and said , not a chance they will listen, but Michael introduced us, they all sat down and really listened. We then had a standing ovation, It was so emotional to feel all the support coming from the crowd. Who would have believed it possible.

 Back to New York another 6 hours of flying, and to the September 11 anniversary , We took part in a seminar at Columbia University, then to talk at the Church of the Holy Trinity and then to a gathering at the U.N. and finally to panel after the screening of Encounter Point. Hectic to say the least.

The trip ended with a wonderful meeting with Mr. James Wolfensohn, with a gallery in New York "Pomagranite" and with friends who are arranging a fund raising in N.Y. on the 30th November, and Palm Beach on the 4th December.

Some 9and a half hours later back in Israel, can somebody explain why it takes 11 hours to get there and 9 and some to get back.

 Robi Damelin

'Peaceful Tomorrows'

911 Power to the Peaceful Festival









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