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Peace activists may come and peace activists may go, but Pushkar Shah of Nepal has kept peddling for nine long, hard years.
Shah arrived in Israel this week as part of a nine-year journey around the world promoting peace. He has already journeyed to 112 countries on his bicycle, from Nigeria, to Peru, to Indonesia.
Generally, he only resorts to airplanes and ships when he has no choice. When contacted by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Shah was cycling to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.
Wherever he is, he lives by the motto: "War is not the answer."
His father was killed in a war in Nepal, and since then he has worked tirelessly for the abolition of war. A victim of torture by the anti-royalist Democratic Movement in Nepal, Pushkar has worked for human rights for more than 15 years. During his travels, he has met with many political leaders and peace activists, including the president of East Timor and the son of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pushkar's travels have not all been peaceful. He has been robbed nine times and was kidnapped in Mexico.
He planned to cycle from Israel into Syria and Lebanon, until the Syrian and Lebanese authorities informed him that having visited Israeli meant he was barred from entering their territory, forcing him to fly to Turkey instead.
While here, Shah plans to meet with students from Tel Aviv University and with local politicians.
Pressed to take a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pushkar refused, but said that the core of the conflict was religious. "Both sides have to learn to respect each other's religions and not to hate," he said.
He is totally dependent on those he meets on the road for food and shelter.
Although some Israeli drivers have little respect for the rules of the road, Pushkar said the traffic here was nothing compared to what he faced in Africa.
After completing his journey around the world, Pushkar's goal is to climb Mount Everest with the flags of all the countries he has visited, to demonstrate global unity. "We only have one sun and one world. We are family and should start acting like one," he said.
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