Rather than being victims of history, David Hartsough believes we should make it – he's raising a ‘peace force’ to do just that
By Kate Rope  —  Bangkok Post  —  2002

George W. Bush is dividing the world and waging war. Osama Bin Laden is skillfully eluding capture and giving hope to the thousands he has trained to kill.  Betwixt the two, hot spots in Israel and the occupied territories are descending into ever more gruesome violence, other countries are being forced to choose which side of the “war” they support, and nobody is talking about peace.

Except, perhaps, David Hartsough, who is quietly building an army in the midst of  the fury. A veteran of the civil rights struggle in the US and a peace activist who's been on the front lines of some of the most destructive clashes of the last half century, Hartsough is travelling the globe to rally a force that will march into the danger zones of the world armed with only a commitment to peace. Born from the work left unfinished by Mahatma Gandhi some 70 years ago, it's a hard-sell in times like these, but Hartsough is an experienced and persuasive salesman.

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Posted on Feb 28, 2011  —  By Chris Hedges

I have watched mothers and fathers keening in grief over the frail corpses of their children in hospitals in Gaza and rural villages in El Salvador, Bosnia and Kosovo. The faces of these dead children, their bodies ripped apart by iron fragments or bullets tumbling end over end through their small, delicate frames, appear to me almost daily like faint and sadly familiar ghosts. The frailty and innocence of my own children make these images difficult to bear. 

A child a day dies in war-related violence in Afghanistan. Children die in roadside explosions. They die in airstrikes. They die after militants lure them to carry suicide bombs, usually without their knowledge. They die in firefights. They are executed by the Taliban after being accused, sometimes correctly, of spying for the Afghan National Army. They are tiny pawns in a futile and endless war. They are robbed of their childhood. They live in fear and surrounded by the terror of indiscriminate violence. The United Nations, whose most recent report on children in Afghanistan covered a two-year period from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 30, 2010, estimates that in the first half of last year at least 176 children were killed and 389 more wounded. But the real number is probably much, much higher. There are big parts of the country where research can no longer be carried out.  Full Article


Another step toward mainstreaming nonviolence
by Ken Butigan | February 12, 2011, 11:47 am

The movement that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year autocratic rule not only has created a spectacular breakthrough for Egyptian democracy, it has bequeathed a priceless gift to the rest of us in every part of the planet.

For eighteen days the Egyptian people carried out an unarmed revolution with determination, creativity, and a daring willingness to risk.  They marched, they improvised, they prayed, they connected with one another.  Most of all, they stayed put—and invited the nation to join them.

Faced with a corrupt and dictatorial police state, such a movement might have been tempted to wage armed struggle. Instead, they reached for, experimented with, and remained largely steadfast about another way: nonviolent people power.
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Come celebrate the Power of Nonviolence!
January 8, 2011

A special tribute to David Hartsough and Peaceworkers
Special Guest:  Daniel Ellsberg
Event Chair:  Michael Nagler
Honorary Co-chairs: Medea Benjamin and Martin Sheen*
Event Details
Date and time: January 8th at 6pm
Where: First Universalist Unitarian Church
Starr King and Martin Luther King Rooms
1187 Franklin Street at Geary
San Francisco, CA 94109
Limited seating:  Please purchase tickets as soon as possible to gurantee your place! Cost of entry $35.
Please contact Gilda Bettencourt at gbettencourt@nonviolentpeaceforce.org or mail a check or money order to 331 Judah Street, #9, San Francisco CA 94122.  Make checks payable to Peaceworkers.
Additional Information
  • Includes dinner buffet. Event proceeds will support the future publication of David's life stories – 50 years of promoting nonviolence.
  • Sponsored by the Hartsough Duncan Founders Circle.
  • All contributions are tax deductible.

*We are delighted to have Martin Sheen join Medea Benjamin as honorary co-chair. Though Martin  is currently out of the country, and cannot guarantee his presence, he'll certainly be with us in spirt.


By David Hartsough  —  in Iran  —  November 10, 2010
At Persepolis we had several unusual and very significant conversations.
We met the Ambassador from the Netherlands. He said he was very happy to see our American delegation here in Iran trying to help build some peace and understanding between our countries. He said he felt that what is crucial in helping find a solution to the “Iran conflict” is pretty simple. What the Iranian people and the Iranian government are asking for is respect and to be treated fairly and justly. They have an amazing history and culture and we need to treat them as we – any country – would want to be treated.  
We encountered about 35 Iranian soldiers in uniform. Accompanying them was an Imam with a white turban. We told him about our belief that all religions have as their basic beliefs and teachings to Love One Another and we are all children of one God. He agreed that love for one another is the essence of all religions, but that we cannot rely on God to bring about a just and peaceful society. We must be God’s instruments to help bring about a more peaceful and just society and referred us to the text in the Koran which says just that.
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Another FOR Civilian Diplomacy Delegation left the United States for Iran, on November 5th. Today, Monday, November 8th, the delegation of 11 U.S. peacemakers visited the Peace Museum of Tehran. The following reflection from John Schuchardt shares highlights of their experience at the museum. 

We have been able to have a few conversations with Iranians in the streets, usually including observations such as “I like Americans but I don’t like that your government is taking severe measures.”
Today a man spoke, probably for most of humanity, when he said, “I would love to live in a world where people don’t kill each other.”
The Tehran Peace Museum is set in the environs of a large, beautiful park, with a large statue of peace in honor of the victims of chemical weapons used by Iraq in it’s desperate 8 year war with Iran, a war which is estimated to have killed 500,000 on each side.
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By David Hartsough  — May 10, 2010
I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 50th reunion of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), April 15-18, 2010, in Raleigh, NC.  Over 800 SNCC workers, their families and friends came together for four days to remember, reflect, share stories, inspire a younger generation, and strategize about how to continue the important work that SNCC students started 50 years ago.   Continue reading

When people think of Palestine and Israel, they often picture Palestinians as suicide bombers and terrorists while the Israeli military are seen as bombing whole neighborhoods in Palestine.  The violence and counter-violence and endless war has created a hopelessness about any peaceful future for the Holy Land.

However, during a month-long stay in Palestine and Israel recently, I found something else.  I found something very positive and hopeful and perhaps the key to a peaceful resolution of this tragic conflict — and a possible path toward a peaceful future for both peoples.

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by David Hartsough
On the first anniversary of  the War on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, close to fourteen hundred people from more than 40 countries came to Cairo, Egypt planning to go to Gaza and help end the Siege, a total blockade which began in 2007 and continues today. Unfortunately, under extreme pressure from Israel and perhaps the United States, the Egyptian government did not allow most of us to enter Gaza. However about ninety from the GAZA FREEDOM MARCH did get into Gaza from Dec. 30, 2009-Jan 2, 2010.  I was privileged to be part of that group.
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By Sherri Maurin (for Jan, Louie, David and myself) — 1/1/2010

It is New Year's Day evening. The moon is really full over Tahrir Square in front of The Mogamma; it is beginning to feel like the Gaza Freedom Marchers' place.  We have done nonviolence training there, kicked off the march from points along it's perimeter and across from it, celebrated New Year's Eve and welcomed in a year of greater promise, and closed this phase of the journey together there.

At the closing circle I treasured seeing the chief of police who has followed us throughout the week with hundreds of his young conscripts (who I now affectionately call our "boys in black") enter our large circle, ostensibly to do crowed control; he ended up accepting a proffered cookie, leaving with a smile on his face……Small steps in the path toward world peace and understanding, based on sharing our humanity.

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End Israeli Apartheid

The Cairo Declaration of January 1, 2010

We, international delegates meeting in Cairo during the Gaza Freedom March 2009 in collective response to an initiative from the South African delegation, state:

In view of:

  • Israel's ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians through the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza;
  • the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the continued construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements;
  • the new Wall under construction by Egypt and the US which will tighten even further the siege of Gaza;
  • the contempt for Palestinian democracy shown by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and others after the Palestinian elections of 2006;
  • the war crimes committed by Israel during the invasion of Gaza one year ago;
  • the continuing discrimination and repression faced by Palestinians within Israel;
  • and the continuing exile of millions of Palestinian refugees;
  • all of which oppressive acts are based ultimately on the Zionist ideology which underpins Israel;
  • in the knowledge that our own governments have given Israel direct economic, financial, military and diplomatic support and allowed it to behave with impunity;
  • and mindful of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007)

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by John Dear, SJ — 3/17/09   (reprinted with permission)

A delegation of 20 American peacemakers planned to visit the much maligned nation of Iran in late February. Only six received visas. Among these were David Hartsough and Franciscan Fr. Louie Vitale. They returned brimming with fondness, hope and heartening stories.

David, the delegation leader, is a long time Quaker peacemaker who worked with the American Friends Service Committee for 18 years and co-founded Nonviolent Peace Force, an international project that places trained nonviolence workers in conflict situations. He currently directs Peaceworkers, an organization that supports nonviolent movements around the world.

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Members of the delegation share their reflections on their recent trip to Iran.


In this post are essays by Ann Morrell, Bill Gillen, and Jack Schultz. Ann wrote about what she describes as the highlight of her trip, a connection she made with a group of schoolgirls in Esfahan (see above photo):

We were descending the steps on the way out of the Palace of the Forty Columns in Esfahan. We only saw twenty columns because the large reflecting pool was drained and instead of the shimmering reflection of the twenty columns, we saw workmen patching the sides of the pool. It was a beautiful sunny morning in a lovely park. On the steps were so many teenaged girls talking together in clumps that I surmised they were on a school trip. 
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Ethan Vesely-Flad on March 5, 2009

Today's news from Capitol Hill highlights an issue of deep concern to those who seek to build stronger relationships between the United States and Iran. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) submitted a proposed amendment to a bill on an omnibus appropriations bill in the Senate. The amendment would prohibit all U.S. agencies from doing business with companies with any business ties to Iran's energy sector. The Friends Committee on National Legislation argued in a summary of a letter that FCNL faxed to every U.S. senator last night:

"Taking action to further cripple Iran's already taxed energy sector punishes the Iranian peopl. More hostile and draconian sanctions undermine the potential for a diplomatic solution to Iran's contested nuclear program and other peace and security concerns."
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Submitted by David Hartsough on March 2, 2009

Here's an update from our delegation leader David Hartsough:

Father Louie Vitale and I met with a group of Iranian war veterans from the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) and a delegation from Hiroshima, Japan. Some of the vets had lost their legs; many had been attacked by the chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein against the Iranians and have been suffering the consequences ever since.

There were widows who had lost their husbands, men who could barely see with one eye, people who could not breathe when someone started to smoke, and many from Hiroshima who had lost so many of their relatives and loved ones.
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Submitted by Ethan Vesely-Flad on February 28, 2009

Several more reports have arrived in the past 48 hours from the Fellowship of Reconciliation's 9th civilian diplomacy delegation to Iran. Earlier this week, the group flew south from Iran to Shiraz, and they have since traveled to the ancient, mighty ruins of Persepolis as well as the gorgeous city of Esfahan. Delegation leader David Hartsough wrote two short reflections from this city of rivers, known to all Iranians as "half the world." His first, "Don't Bring Your Guns," is both a humorous and political commentary: Continue reading


Submitted by FOR on February 21, 2009

The Fellowship of Reconciliation's ninth peace and civilian diplomacy delegation to Iran arrived safely in Tehran on Thursday, February 19th, 2010. There are six members of this delegation, making it the smallest one to date, as two-thirds of the group were denied visas. FOR is deeply concerned about what we are experiencing as an increasing series of challenges to an already difficult process of obtaining visas for U.S. citizens.
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