Thursday, November 02, 2006

 

Day # 2 Summary

From Mac, Scottsdale,AZ:

Friends, sorry I have not written more to date. Our days have been very full from first thing in the morning to late in the evening, so it has been hard to get computer time. We began our day meeting with B'tselem, a group that writes reports on human rights issues in Israel-Palestinian Territories. Some of the issues they write on are: freedom of movement through check points, settlement expansion, the impact of the wall, and more. B'tselem is not a political organization,they only deal with human rights cases.

Next we went to Yad Vashim, the holocaust museum. The museum is an architechual wonder. It weaves you through a chronological journey of the tragic events surrounding the European Jewish community before,during, and after World War II. Certainly the most moving and humbling part of the museum for me was the Hall of Names: A circular room filled on the outside with notebook after notebook of names of Jewish brothers and sisters who were killed during the atrocities of World War II. In the center, above you is a cylindar structure with hundreds of photographs of people who lost their lives. Directly below this cylindar is a deep hole dug into the Jerusalem limestone, with a reflection pool at the bottom. As you look deep into the pool water at the bottom you see the reflection of the pictures of the people on the cylindar above.

After lunch we headed out to Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam, an intentional community that was formed in 1971 for Palestinians (Christian and Muslims) and Jews to live together peacefully. The community has grown from just a few families in the 1970s to over 50 families today, evenly divided between Jewish and Palestinian families. Along with the intentional community they have developed a School for Peace (reconciliation work), a bilingual/binational school for children with over 200 students, and a new Pluralistic Spiritual Centre. Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam's mayor guided us through the history of the community and its future.

We quickly made our way back to Jerusalem for a evening meeting with the Israeli group Peace Now. Peace Now is an extra parlimentary peace movement (meaning they don't side with a political party)that operates through public campaigns, advertisements, petitions, distribution of educational material, street activities and more. As their brochure says, 'Peace Now has consistently supported any and all steps promising to promote resolution of the conflict, in addition to pressing all parties in power in the country to initiate steps to bring about the end of the occupation and to enter into negotiations for peace.'

We finally returned to our hotel for dinner and one final meeting with Parents Circle. Parents Circle is a group of over 500 Palestinian and Jewish people who have lost family members in the violence of the conflict. We met Rami (Jewish Israeli)from Jerusalem and Waggeeh (Palestinian Arab Muslim Israeli) from Hebron, both men. Rami's 14 year old daughter was killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Jerusalem. Waggeeh's young brother was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier for throwing stones at the soldiers. Both men talked about the fact that doing nothing or acting in revenge in response to these losses would lead to further personal and communal destruction. What they both did was join Parent Circle. Rami described Pamily Circle as 'putting cracks in the wall' of a divide between communities because they come together and share their loss, listen to one another, and share their grief. Parent Circle also goes out (as Rami and Waggeeh did with us) to share their stories. They go out in pairs, one Jew and one Palestinian. Rami said the most effective presentations they make are to school age youth and children in Israel-Palestinian Territories where they share their stories and long for the violence to end. At the end of Waggeeh and Rami's presentation our group was humbled and in awe of these two men and their courage to work towards healing and hope out of a tragic situation.

I'll end on that hopeful note....

Comments:
Jeff, Mac and everyone there: You are all in my prayers. I admire your strength, courage and conviction to make a difference in the world -- not just locally as you all already do.

Peace,

Brian Lewin
Lawrenceville, NJ
 
Brian: Great to hear from you and thank you for your support! We are learning so much.
 
Dear Mac and Everyone,

Thank you for providing so much information and photos on your blog - it's so beneficial to learn though your experiences. Your efforts are appreciated so much. I wish you the best in your endeavors!

thanks!
Julia Chandler
 
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