24 Feb

A Lifetime of Inspiration & Palestine-Israel Journal: A Ray of Hope




A Lifetime of Inspiration

Marjorie “Marj” Swann Edwin, who worked with many of the nonviolence movements in the U.S. over nearly eight decades, died in March 2014 at age 93. Marj was deeply engaged in social justice work throughout her life, including in the 1940s when she got involved in anti-war efforts; in civil rights struggles, starting with CORE in Chicago; and in the labor movement, as a volunteer organizer for the first inter-racial white-collar union in Washington, DC, representing department store workers. Marj was sentenced to six months in federal prison for civil disobedience in 1958 at the Omaha, Nebraska nuclear missile site protests, where A.J. Muste was also famously arrested. In 1960 Marj founded the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action with her then-husband, Robert Swann. (The Swann Fund at the Muste Institute was named in their honor.) Her many accomplishments don’t fit in this space—they are worthy of a book, which she had in fact been working on in recent years. Marj will continue to inspire us. (Photo: Ed Hedemann.)

(Read Marj Swann’s account of the 1963 Quebec-Guantanamo Walk in Muste Notes Spring 2007.)

(Read more about Marj Swann’s life here.)


Palestine-Israel Journal: A Ray of Hope
By Hillel Schenker

Given the crisis-filled headlines coming out of the Middle East, the very existence of the Palestine-Israel Journal provides a unique ray of light and hope. Founded in 1994 as an independent quarterly by prominent Israeli and Palestinian journalists Victor Cygielman and Ziad AbuZayyad, today its office in East Jerusalem is one of the few places where Israelis and Palestinians come together in the same space to seek a nonviolent end to the occupation and a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

With Israeli and Palestinian co-editors, and a 32-member editorial board with an equal number from both peoples, PIJ devotes every issue to one of the central questions on the joint Israeli-Palestinian agenda, and it becomes a major resource for students, scholars, activists, opinion and decision makers in the region and around the world.

The theme of our October 2014 issue is “Natural Resources and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” a key cause of conflict in the Middle East, but also a potential basis for cooperation and sustainability. Given the terrible violence and loss of lives this past summer, we added a section on “The Israel-Gaza Crisis: What comes next?”–a roundtable discussion between four Israelis and four Palestinians about the war and prospects for the future. We also held a very successful public conference in Jerusalem on both topics.

Previous issues included “Two-State Solution at the Crossroads: Obstacles and Challenges Facing Negotiations,” “A Middle East Without Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “The Younger Generation,” “Civil Society Challenges,” “Women and Power” and “The Arab Spring.”

In April 2014 I came to New York and Washington, together with Palestinian Co-Editor Ziad AbuZayyad, to carry out a series of activities around “Advancing a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East”. We believe that the U.S. government and civil society have key roles to play in advancing a nuclear free zone in our region, but that the topic is not on their agenda. So we organized an all-day conference in New York where 50 civil society activists, think tank experts, and UN diplomats had the rare opportunity to engage with Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman.

<hspace=”10″>During the DC advocacy day in April 2014 for a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East, sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES): (L-R) Volker Lehmann, FES-NY, Hillel Schenker, Co-Editor PIJ, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Shlomo Brom, INSS-Israel, Pia Bungarten, FES-DC, Dr. Sameh Aboul-Enein, Egypt, Ziad AbuZayyad, Co-Editor PIJ and Michele Auga, FES-NY. (Photo courtesy of FES.)

Our delegation included Egyptian Prof. Sameh Aboul-Enein, an expert on arms control and proliferation issues, and Israeli Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Shlomo Brom, a senior analyst at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), who during the conference pointed to the cover of our issue and quoted the slogan “Don’t Bomb – Talk!” In Washington we had a marathon meeting with congressional staffers, and in both cities we gave public talks sponsored by important civil society groups. Our presentations—each from our own perspective, but with a common agenda of promoting a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone—clearly had a major impact on the people we met.

Since 2012 we are proud to partner with the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, enabling us to receive tax-exempt contributions from U.S.-based donors, without whom we could not maintain and continue our activities.

You can read the Palestine-Israel Journal online at Or better yet, subscribe.

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