Sunday, August 12, 2007


(1,350 words)
By Kathy Kelly

Amman, Jordan

“GET A JOB!” These three words are very familiar to activists bearing signs calling for an end to war, whether standing on street corners, walking along highways, holding vigils, or nonviolently occupying the offices of elected representatives. Listen to the activists, and you’ll often hear, “We’re doing our job. We’re trying.”

I’m convinced that our work must always have one foot placed in nonviolent resistance to the forces that design and wage wars, with the other foot standing among people who bear the physical and mental affliction caused by these forces. Today, I’m thinking especially about two young women who found themselves in nightmare circumstances because, in their view, they simply wanted to have a job.

When American troops invaded Iraq in 2003, Noor (not her name), was living with her aunt in a small town near Baghdad. The aunt received a minimal “retirement” salary from the former Iraqi government. As a young teenager, Noor had left her family to assist the aunt and to enter college there. She felt deep and strong attachments to people in her town, and she loved her aunt intensely. After graduating, still living with her aunt, Noor didn’t want to become a burden to her parents who were already being supported by her brothers. She wanted to earn money and a measure of independence. When a neighbor suggested she come with him to the place where he worked, she was surprised by how easily she had become employed, working to inspect the handbags and purses of people entering the workplace of a large American contractor. Initially, when troops began occupying her town, residents could walk the streets without much anxiety. Working for an American company didn’t seem to carry grave danger. ...

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Kathy Kelly ( co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( which is organizing “The Occupation Project.” a campaign of nonviolent resistance to U.S. funding for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information about support for Iraqis who have fled to Jordan, see

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