Keep a date with peace

The War Resisters League has put out a 2008 peace calendar titled “Salaam, Shalom, Solh: Nonviolence and Resistance in the Middle East and Beyond.” The slender volume, edited by Jim Haber, features heart-warming and heart-rending stories from movements bringing people together for peaceful change across dozens of political, religious and cultural divides. Reflecting today’s great struggle to end the war and occupation of Iraq and prevent a war with Iran, it focuses on the Middle East.

One vignette is featured for each week, opposite a week-at-a-glance page highlighting a anniversaries — triumphs and tragedies alike — from the peace, labor, civil rights, women’s and other people’s movements.

As Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, writes in her introduction, “The stories build our belief that nonviolence can change the world, that the poor should be society’s highest priority, that people should love their enemies, and that actions should follow conviction, regardless of inconvenience.”

A special feature is the calendar’s emphasis on the existence of a vigorous civil society in Iraq, a crucial aspect of that country’s current reality that is almost totally absent from the mainstream media. Here are those rarely told stories of union, women’s and religious organizations striving for a united, democratic, peaceful Iraq free of U.S. occupation and of sectarian violence.

From Israel and Palestine come stories of the united Arab and Jewish movements for solidarity in day-to-day life and in nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation.

Another profile highlights Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, “the frontier Gandhi,” who helped lead the struggle for a united independent India, and who played a leading part in progressive developments in Afghanistan from the 1920s through the ’80s.

Not surprisingly, among such a sweeping view of struggles and actions, there are a few entries for which readers might prefer to substitute their own favorites.

All in all, WRL’s 2008 calendar brings together a remarkable kaleidoscope of struggles to end war and poverty and to win a world of peace and justice. For more information, visit .

mbechtel @pww.org