Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Operation Peace Flight, Roots, Dancing in Gaza, Palestinian/Israeli Circus of the Galilee, …. And so much more

Warning: This blog entry comes with “work” for you if you are really ready to learn so much about great initiatives in Israel that are constructive and involved hundreds of thousands of people and do not get enough press.

There are so many wonderful programs and shared projects in Israel that bring together Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, people of all faiths – Christian, Jewish and Moslem – and all of these efforts are based on the notion that we share so much more than whatever divides us.

Recently a really good friend sent me the following piece, which I highly recommend. (Thank you MB!)


While this first piece is about education within the Arab sector to address a cultural dynamic within this particular society, it bodes well for addressing internal issues while showing that we can all find a moderate way to live well and bring out the best in all of us – men and women.

Once we figure that out, maybe, just maybe, we can all come together and widen our circles of friends, people who care and work together to build a better world.

Note this effort to address a known problem, that of Jewish extremists, known as Tag Machir (meaning “price tag” and the group of people who have taken on their own agenda of destroying Arab property, families, and individuals, who by the way, have also been created by God).

Tag Meir (meaning “light tag” in Hebrew) is a grass-roots organization founded in 2011 which works against racism in Israel. Tag Meir lead a solidarity trip to the West Bank Palestinian village of Douma Their chairman Gadi Gvaryahu said it was vital that Jews come to show respect to the family who was recently attacked. "It was important for us to come look in their eyes and say, 'This is the worst thing a person from our nation could do,'" Gvaryahu said. "To say that we're sorry, that we're shocked. It's not a mistake to come and meet people and ask forgiveness." Read more HERE.

Years ago, decades really, I was in the home of a Palestinian Moslem Muchtar (chief of his village) who said, “We are at war with ourselves. We have to figure that out before we can truly work on how to live peacefully with others.” I always thought that was one of the most astute and singularly wise statements I have ever heard and it most certainly applies to the Jewish population of Israel as well. Clearly we are struggling as our own Hilltop Youth and other extremist groups foil the honest and faith-based intentions and initiatives of so many who are trying to work together to build a better Israel (and Palestine) and ultimately a better world.

That being said, look at these many efforts that are so wonderful (and mind you, this is a tiny sampling)! I have shared some of them before, and there are new ones. Maybe as we begin this new year of 2016 it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the good in our world and in Israel specifically.

Dancing in Gaza brings together Israelis and Palestinians in learning ball room dancing. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/24/dancing-in-jaffa_n_5682927.html

Operation Peace Flight was organized by Barry Schiff as a joint flight between Israel and Jordan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3THMy7Ad_ck

Israeli Football League is a completely amateur league in which Israelis, Arabs, and people of all faiths participate. http://www.ifl.co.il/

Shorashim, a program co-founded by a Palestinian and a Jewish leader in the Gush bring together people from both communities to share food, discussion, stories and just to get to know each other better. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/bridges/three.html

Friends of the Earth of the Middle East, also known as EdoPeace Middle East brings together people of the region across national and community lines to work for a better environment, truly practicing the notion that we need to work together to make a better world and sustain it as well. http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home

MEJDI fosters understanding and cooperation between people in the regions through dual-narrative tours. https://interculturalinnovation.org/center-for-world-religions-diplomacy-and-conflict-resolution-mejdi/

Yad b’Yad Schools is now a system of six schools throughout Israel that brings together Arab and Israeli families, Jews, Christians and Moslems and includes families across the spectrum who want their children and the next generation to be part of a peaceful world by learning how to live in and build one. https://www.handinhandk12.org/

Makom BeGalil is a Israeli-Palestinian youth circus that builds relationships through the trust needed to successfully engage in and perform circus arts. http://eng.makom-bagalil.org.il/galileecircus/

Parent Circle Family Forum is a group of Palestinian and Israeli parents who come together to talk and share their stories of children and family members lost to violence. Their motto is “It won’t stop Until We Talk.” How true. http://www.theparentscircle.com/

This is only a tiny sampling of the many, many efforts and organizations that are presently active. For a yet small, but more expansive listing, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab-Israeli_peace_projects

These hundreds of programs and cooperative community efforts such as those in Haifa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and elsewhere as well as the work that began so long ago in places that Ulpan Akiba and Givat Haviva are testimony to the constantly growing numbers of people and organizations that are supporting and enabling peaceful co-existence while we are affronted by the front pages of our newspapers and the top stories of our news reports that would have us believe otherwise. Whether involved in business, medical care, learning narratives, performing, singing, dancing, athletic teams, camps, schools and so much else, PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE is happening successfully and Israel is becoming a better place because of it. May all of these wonderful efforts continue to grow and be successful!