Taghyeer began to introduce its principles to Palestinian society in Spring 2016, when a small leadership group piloted bringing together 11 communities in South Hebron Hills with aspiring activists, to develop a grove of trees in an initiative called “Plant the Change” – the first practical action on the ground. The three lead organizers, Riyad Halees, Raed Hadar and Ali Abu Awwad spent the summer of 2016 introducing the principles of Taghyeer in meetings and workshops for over 40 different communities. The aim was to promote a nonviolent identity as a strategy to bring about social change.
Limited resources for the workshops and the launch event on International Peace Day in September were augmented by the beginnings of the U.S. Friends of Taghyeer, to be joined in subsequent years by the Swiss and European B8 of Hope, as international support partners.
On this occasion, more than 3000 Palestinians came to Jericho, overcoming all the obstacles and barriers across the West Bank, to share in a common declaration of bettering their lives through nonviolent action.
Taghyeer has built a grassroots civil society movement around several practices and principles:
- Meetings in marginalized communities, with municipal leaders, and with often ignored local organizations to explain and interact on the principles of nonviolence as an identity and as a strategy of practical action;
- Local and regional workshops to engage on the vision and strategy; hear the priorities for change of local leaders and frustrated activists; and train participants in nonviolent identity and nonviolent action methodology in the family, in the community and in the nation;
- Identify threatened communities’ local priorities for social development action to better living conditions, to seek out and empower local women’s leadership, and engage disaffected youth;
- Identify and support model community development projects that bring emerging leaders and new activists to work with communities and attract new participants to the training and meeting cycle which builds the movement;
- The above trainings and actions are linked to a larger principle meant to animate a national nonviolence movement: Taghyeer has reached out (as a partner and umbrella for local and national organizations) to sign on to a Nonviolence Charter (Annex 1) – 40 organizations have agreed to launch the process (Annex 2). The Charter will be further developed to guide the independent actions of each group which signs on and shape the way they partner with each other.
The leadership of Taghyeer is growing and includes regional action groups such as a women led coalition of teachers, young professionals, and veteran political activists to build the organization and its actions in the Nablus area. The Messengers of Change project aims at empowering up to 70 fully trained emerging leaders – organization heads, village and community leaders (especially women), academics and their students, municipal representatives including mayors and governors, and youth – all seeking a focused home for their vision and energy.
This force will strengthen Taghyeer Movement’s capacity to serve as an umbrella movement for an independent civil society that redresses imbalances of power, through trust in each other and the Palestinian desire to be a unified society. It will challenge and encourage its own political leaders to prepare the ground for a peaceful solution through negotiations, and to close the gaps between them and the society.