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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

Look inside Nissim Dahan's book Selling a Vision of Hope with Google Books.

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UK to take in up to 3,000 refugee children

The British government plans to resettle up to 3,000 children from conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa by 2020
Britain announced plans Thursday to take in up to 3,000 of the most vulnerable children and their families from conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa by 2020. The scheme, drawn up in coordination with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), is aimed at children deemed at risk of child labour, forced marriage and other forms of abuse or exploitation. It will affect children on their own and those accompanied by relatives or carers, and will see several hundred people resettled in the coming year, the Home Office interior ministry announced.

Listen to an interview with Nissim Dahan on the Tom Marr Show.

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Vision of Hope
Archive >> February 2008
file under: from hate to hopeeducationeconomic developmentcommon sense 23 Feb 2008 12:38 PM
Where is the Honor in Honor Killing? Posted by Nissim Dahan
Every once in a while we hear of an "honor killing" carried out by a family member against one of their own. A recent article about an Iranian father who stoned his daughter to death, for bringing "dishonor" to him and to his family, is a case in point. The girl may, or may not, have consorted with a man without the father's approval, but he took it upon himself to restore his "honor" in the cruelest way possible, by taking the life of his own flesh and blood.


How is it that people come to believe in such things? And the Muslim world is not the only place where such thinking abounds. You could be riding a subway or a bus in a modern American city, and you make the mistake of looking at a young man in the wrong way. He pulls out a gun and shoots you in the head for "disrespecting" him, simply by looking at him in a way that, in his mind, demeaned his sense of "honor."


A lot of times you see this kind of thinking among the poor and among the uneducated, but not always. If you are poor and uneducated, and if the weight of a hard life weighs heavily down upon you, then you man find yourself grasping at straws trying to reclaim a sense of honor and a sense of dignity. When you have nothing in your life that gives you dignity, or respect, you may end up looking for it in the strangest places: by stoning your daughter, or by shooting a fellow traveler for looking at you the wrong way.


What can I say? We have come to believe in a lot of stupid things. Why? Because many of us have no other reference point, and because sometimes it's just easier to accept what we are told is right, instead of thinking it out for ourselves. But if we think things out before acting out, we may think twice about acting out in the wrong way, and against our own best interest.


Common sense would suggest that there is no honor in killing. Honor is not bestowed on us as a matter of right, but is earned by each of us with the good things we do for one another. We are not entitled to honor. We earn it as we go. Common sense would also suggest that we were put on this good earth to live; not to kill, and not to die, before our time.


But poverty and ignorance do play a part, as many of you rightly point out. They make it more possible for stupid thinking to grab hold. If a father, for example, has a decent job, and a decent education, and is able to provide adequately for his family, then chances are good that he will find his sense of honor in the good things he has, and does, without resorting to the perverse notion of "honor killing," as a source of honor. If his daughter goes astray, he will find the strength, within himself, to set her straight with love and understanding, because his life gives him the self-respect he needs to respect others. But if that same father is left poor, and ignorant, he will find it difficult to respect others, even his own family, when he has no respect for himself.


People the world over will have to begin rethinking some of their deeply held beliefs, so that a semblance of order  has a chance to emerge. We will need a new framework for rational thought based on universal notions of common sense-the collective wisdom borne of shared experience. We will also need to invest in one another, as many of you so rightly point out, so that the moderating influence of education and prosperity could begin to neutralize the influence of extremist thinking. Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope, all things are possible, even the kindness that we owe it to ourselves, to show one another.

file under: vision of hopetransitionSaudi Arabiapeacemoneyglobal warmingfrom hate to hopeeconomic development 5 Feb 2008 9:01 PM
The Hamsa and the Businessman Posted by Nissim Dahan
Most of you probably know what a Hamsa is. Right? For those who don't; it is a good luck symbol, in the shape of a hand, which has been around as part of Arab and Jewish cultures for centuries. Most Hamsas feature an "eye" to protect from the "evil eye." And in recent times, a great many feature a "dove" to symbolize peace.


What would you say is the evil that we need protection from in this day and age? For what it's worth, today's evil is the evil of ideological extremism. And I'm not just talking about extremist religious fundamentalism. I'm talking about all kinds of ideological extremes, including the belief that we should keep our economies running on fossil fuels, even at the expense of cooking ourselves to death.


As some of you know, I am a strong believer in Selling a Vision of Hope, as the antidote to some of the insanity we see swirling around us. As you look at the five fingers of the hand of the Hamsa, think of the five aspects of Selling a Vision of Hope:


1. The thumb is for Ideology: Instead of believing what you want to believe, start believing in what makes sense. Use an Ideology of Common Sense to speak to one another with Common Sense and with a sense of personal dignity.


2. The index finger is for Investment: Use public and private funds to create an International Fund for Economic Development in the Middle East under the banner: "We stand ready to invest in you, if you are ready to invest in yourselves." Invest in projects which inspire a sense of hope, which create jobs, and which protect the environment."


3. The middle finger is for Hope: Use an Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to Sell a Vision of Hope-a Vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom-on the Arab street, in the Muslim world, and in the world as a whole.


4. The ring finger is for Public Diplomacy: Once you sell a Vision of Hope, you sustain the Hope by launching a series of Public Diplomacy Programs which are specifically designed to prop a Vision of Hope up, and to carry it forward, such as: a Media Campaign, a program to Empower Women, a Student Exchange, a Cultural Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, and a series of International Conferences.


5. The pinky is for the willingness to Fight: When necessary, and it will be necessary, fight, and fight hard, against the forces of extremism, wherever they may be found, but position the fight within a Vision of Hope. Raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. People will fight harder once they know what the hell they're fighting for. For example, we are not fighting a "war against terror." We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There's a big difference.


That's pretty much it. Now let me ask you this: If you want to give some substance to Selling a Vision of Hope, what kind of project would you recommend? I need your advice. What kind of project would say to the world that a Vision of Hope could be made real if people choose to make it so?


Here's one idea. See what you think. We get a consortium of Arab and Israeli businesspeople to build a factory on the West Bank. They get funding from Saudi Arabia, believe it or not. They hire and train local Palestinian workers to produce a product which is especially suited to protect the environment. For example, they could produce a long lasting battery to power cars. You pull into a gas station and switch out your battery, instead of filling up on gas. The research for this product comes from a leading university in Israel, or elsewhere, which specializes in green technology. The project is successful, and attracts more money, for more projects, for more jobs, and for more eco-friendly products.


Why would the Saudis fund such a project, you may well ask, especially since it promotes green technology? Here are a few possible reasons: The Saudis could use some good PR for a change. They would be using oil profits to protect the earth, and to stabilize the region with good paying jobs. What a concept! They would diversify their investments, and made good money, by getting in on the ground floor of technology that the entire world wants. Good jobs would help neutralize some of the ideological rhetoric, as in the case of China, and India. As people begin to make a living, and begin to imagine a better life, the allure of extremism will diminish. Business has a way of creating its own ideological imperative. Eventually, this effort could pave the way for substantive peace, not just BS, which would bless the House of Saud with a good measure of peace of mind. Everybody wins, even the earth, except maybe the extremists.


So what do you think? Any chance of making something happen along these lines? Are we overlooking anything? Are we on to something, or just spinning our wheels? A penny for you thoughts.