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One Hundred Ways for Peace from Palestine by Samih Abu Zakieh

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 02.11.2007:

By Samih Abu Zakieh

Les éditions de la Pleine Lune, Quebec, Canada, 2007, 208 pages, $20

The dove of peace – a worldwide symbol first made famous by Pablo Picasso – has passed into the capable hands of Samih Abu Zakieh, an artist and teacher who keeps hope alive in hell. Director of the Palestinian Child Arts Centre in Hebron for 15 years, Abu Zakieh is one of the rare community movers who meets the stringent standard for pacifism set out by Mahatma Gandhi: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

That is a tough sell on the ground in occupied Palestine, where Abu Zakieh was born and grew up, whipsawed by the deafening clamour of tanks and bulldozers which enclosed the street where he lived under curfew. He imploded and flew inside out on the wings of a dove, which he began drawing. Followed by another, and others, sometimes twos and threes. Doves swirling tapestries of local and universal reference. And for the children he worked with, the doves also became engines of empowerment.

Now a tri-lingual book brings together Abu Zakieh’s drawings and his words: De Palestine, cent chemins pour la paix / One Hundred Ways for Peace from Palestine, published in Canada by Les éditions de la Pleine Lune. His commentary – presented in Arabic, French and English – grows out of long-time research into children’s reactions to war. Abu Zakieh is the author of numerous articles on the artistic expression of children in times of war. He regularly gives lectures on art, education and the rights of Palestinian children, at international conferences in Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Iraq, the United States, Jordan and Egypt.

The tone is low key, whether matter-of-factly itemizing brutality under the occupation, or affirming the priority of self-restraint: “Just to control yourself when encountering violence in these most difficult conditions is a victory, but to spread a smile across the lips of the children who are our future-builders is an even greater victory.” Its engaging images and bracing discourse make this book a gem for any bookshelf, and an inspiring gift to give, and a breath of fresh air towards a self-fulfilling prophecy.

(Courtesy of the publisher)



November 2007

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