Via a telephone press conference the group Promoting Enduring Peace announced the next winners of its Gandhi Peace Award. It will be given jointly to Ralph Nader and Omar Barghouti at a ceremony in New Haven, CT in April 2017.
Ralph Nader is known for over five decades for his consumer and civic activism and for being among the first nationally known figures to criticize Israeli abuses and to speak up in support of the Israeli peace movement. Omar Barghouti is one of the best known leaders of the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) movement which calls for economic pressure against Israel until it withdraws from the land it occupied, gives full civic equality to Palestinians citizens inside Israel and allows Palestinian refugee families their right to return to their homeland and homes.
At the press conference Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, touted Nader “for challenging, long before it was fashionable, the rise of neo-liberalism and corporate capitalism.” He said about Nader, “He is one of the great Americans”
Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation” talked about Omar Barghouti. He said the Palestinian was a “central player in the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel”. “Omar’s voice has been a crucial one in the past several years and one that should be increasingly amplified to all those asking about Palestinian non-violence.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said she first met Barghouti in 2009 and that’s when JVP starting working on BDS issues. She hailed Barghouti’s leadership and “impeccable ethical framework” and his continued work “at great cost and risk to himself”.
The Israeli government has refused to renew Barghouti’s travel document and is effectively banned from leaving Palestine/Israel. Vilkomerson said Jewish Voice for Peace would be working with other groups to restore Barghouti’s ability to travel and to come to the U.S. to accept the award.
Stanley Heller, Administrator of Promoting Enduring Peace, noted Ralph Nader’s support for the rights of American Indians, in particular his calls that treaties with Indian nations be treated as just as binding as other treaties and his 2013 condemnation of the continuing use of the name “Redskins” as the name of the Washington NFL football team.
The Gandhi Peace Award has been given out since 1960 by Promoting Enduring Peace. The first honoree was Eleanor Roosevelt. It has been awarded to César Chávez, Dr. Benjamin Spock and Daniel Ellsberg. Recent recipients have been Rabbis Arik Ascherman and Ehud Bandel, Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly and Tom Goldtooth.
Promoting Enduring Peace was founded in 1952 in New Haven, Connecticut by Jerome Davis, former Yale professor and former president of the American Federation of Teachers. PEP’s work for peace and a sustainable world environment has given rise to its motto, “Peace on Earth, Peace with Earth”. Its websites are www.pepeace.org www.peacenews.org and the www.GandhiPeaceAward.org. It takes part in coalitions calling to end the U.S.-Saudi alliance and the “Revive the Peace Movement Network”.