Civilised Israelis and Palestinians work for peace: compiled in 2010

For years civilised Israelis and Palestinians have been working in a more low- key way for a peaceful future. Imaginative ventures include:

In 1970, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, a cooperative village of Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship was founded on land leased (and later given) to it by the adjacent Monastery of Latroun. By 2006, about 52 families are settled in the village and there are now 300 families waiting to live there. The members of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam are demonstrating the possibility of coexistence between Jews and Palestinians by developing a community based on mutual acceptance, respect and cooperation. The village operates a program to provide humanitarian assistance – mainly, but not exclusively, medical relief – for Palestinian villagers affected by the ongoing conflict. A young woman who has grown up there is now a member of Physicians for Human Rights, which helps Palestinians who need special treatment to get to Israeli hospitals.

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In July 1994, 19-year-old Arik Frankenthal was kidnapped and killed by Hamas. A year later, in response to this tragedy, his father, Yitzhak Frankenthal, founded the Parents Circle. The organization is now known as the Parents Circle-Families Forum; it has about 500 Israeli-Palestinian families who have lost a close family member as a result of the conflict. The Forum seeks to solve the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through dialogue and mutual understanding.

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The Jerusalem ‘peace circus’ was founded in 1994 by the Jerusalem Circus Association which is dedicated to circus arts in Israel through the teamwork of Jews and Arabs. They not only perform together, but also use the circus as a tool for dialogue in a safe and equal environment. “I started the circus with a vision to build and initiate a circus for coexistence, not only between Jews and Arabs, but also for those of different religions,” Elisheva Yortner, director and founder of the Jerusalem Circus, told Israel Today.

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In 1999 two musicians, Daniel Barenboim, a Jew of Israeli nationality and Edward Said, a political spokesperson for the Palestinian cause, who both shared a vision of peaceful co-existence in the Middle East, organised a workshop in Germany for young musicians from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Tunisia and Israel, playing side by side as an orchestra, and from this grew the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Barenboim says: “Edward and I believed that you cannot have equality without freedom and you cannot have fraternity without equality. In the orchestra this is a given because we are rehearsing and performing pieces in which Israelis, Egyptians, Palestinians and Syrians play as equals.”

A phone service linking Israelis and Palestinians, called Hello Peace, has facilitated nearly a million telephone conversations since it began operating in November 2000. The Parents’ Circle set up Hello Peace, a phone line which allows any Israeli or Palestinian to pick up the phone and speak directly to somebody from the other side. This initiative, which has now been running for five years and is funded by the European Union, began with a wrong number. In 2000, in the early days of the second intifada, a young Israeli woman called Natalia Wieseltier dialled a Jewish friend in Tel Aviv but found herself talking to a Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip. Instead of hanging up she started a conversation. “He told me his name was Jihad and that things were not going well. He told me that food is rotting at the checkpoints and that his wife was expecting a baby any day and he had no way of getting to the hospital,” she says. Jihad was surprised to find an Israeli being so open and understanding and Natalia was soon receiving regular calls not only from Jihad but from his friends and family too. She in turn put them in touch with her friends and soon a network of contacts had developed. When Natalia approached the Parents’ Circle with the idea of turning this into a national phone line linking Israelis and Palestinians they embraced the idea. Since its inception Hello Peace has logged over a million calls. They may begin as screaming matches between the two sides but many calls have led to lasting friendships. One Israeli family, for example, regularly met their Palestinian counterparts at a checkpoint to hand over insulin, a medicine that’s hard to come by in the Palestinian territories, for their diabetic son. Back in Jerusalem, Rami ponders the success of Hello Peace and the millions of minutes of dialogue it has generated. “Just imagine what would happen if the leaders of these crazy nations of ours spoke with each other for even one minute!” he observes.

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“Surfing for Peace” was founded in 2007 by surf ‘ambassador’ Dorian Paskowitz, Arthur Rashkovan, an Israeli surf-industry professional, Dorian’s son David Paskowitz and 8-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater. Surfing 4 Peace is a person 2 person and cross-border cooperation initiative that aims to bridge cultural and political barriers between surfers in the Middle East.

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The trading firm Canaan Fair Trade was founded by Palestinians who support peaceful co-existence with Israel and see profitable olive farming as one means of improving Palestinians’ economic situation. The balance of their olive oil comes from Israel. Sindyanna, a Fair Trade business run by Jewish and Arab women in Israel, supports Arab-Israeli producers and in the light of the vision of peace that the olive branch symbolizes, we are also sourcing olive oil from the Jewish Israeli Strauss family farm in Israel, a pioneer in organic olive oil production.

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The Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour was founded in November 2006 by Palestinian comedian and columnist Ray Hanania and Israeli comedian Charley Warady who grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood. Hanania challenged Warady to appear on the same comedy stage with him to challenge the animosity enveloping both their peoples. They arranged the first Palestinian-Israeli comedy tour in the world, with four shows in Israel and one show in East Jerusalem in January 2007.

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Combatants for Peace are a group of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who were actively involved in the cycle of violence in our area. The Israelis served as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinians were involved in acts of violence in the name of Palestinian liberation. The movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who had taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, we have decided to put down our guns, and to fight for peace.

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Johannesburg entrepreneur Issie Kirsh of Primedia launched a state-of-the-art FM radio station broadcasting 24 hours a day in English to audiences across Israel and Palestine in an attempt to get people in the Middle East talking to each other. There is a need for a daily debate on the issues affecting both Israelis and Palestinians,” he says, “and this is the driving force behind 93.6 Ram FM. We are doing it in English, which will also soon open the broadcasts to international listeners via satellite.” 93.6 RAM FM is licensed by the Palestinian Authority, with digital studios in Ramallah and Jerusalem. Its 24-hour line-up includes interviews with high-profile newsmakers and audience phone-ins. The new service is based closely on the South African 702 Talk Radio format which set the pace for public debate on air during the volatile decade leading up to South Africa’s 1994 democratic elections.

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The Israeli-Palestinian Science Organisation

Science, given its universal character, can be instrumental in stimulating dialogue, openness, and mutual respect, and thus in serving the cause of peace. The readiness — indeed keenness — to cooperate, already existing among numerous Israeli and Palestinian scientists and scholars, calls for the establishment of an appropriate facilitating framework. We shall therefore endeavour to:

  • Identify areas of science where cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians is feasible and productive;
  • Build a science and scholarship-based bridge of good will between Israelis and Palestinians;
  • Create an environment in which Israeli and Palestinian scholars and scientists will meet and establish dialogue;
  • Support joint scholarly and scientific projects through funding and administrative assistance.

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Today, Hadassah is in the forefront of health care in Israel, throughout the entire Middle East and across the globe. It is distinguished by its innovative approach to complex medical problems and the cooperative efforts of the medical and research teams. We treat everyone. Hadassah brings first class medical attention to the Palestinian population. We did not let politics into our premises when we saved lives of Palestinian suicide bombers who were injured while killing hundreds of Israelis during the recent Intifada. We do not let politics into our premises when we save lives of Palestinian babies with severe heart defects. We ignore political aspects when we conduct dozens of collaborative research and clinical projects with Palestinian physicians in a variety of medical and health areas.

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School history textbooks that include both sides’ narratives of the conflict. A new history textbook for Palestinian and Israeli students for learning and living side by side has been created through devotion and cooperation under extraordinary conditions by dedicated Israeli and Palestinian professors of PRIME — the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East. The dedicated Israeli and Palestinian educators of PRIME discovered they were not yet ready to merge both narratives into one satisfactory single story. What they created were 3-columned pages. For any moment in history, there is a column for the Palestinian narrative and one for the Israeli experience of that instance. The center column is left open, provided for the student to to make personal notes — additions, questions, new insights, conclusions.

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Friends of the Earth Middle East gets Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian mayors of neighbouring districts to solve joint water-shortage problems.  EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East — has shown that international cooperation to resuscitate the Jordan is possible. Working with local communities, my Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli colleagues are striving to restore water to the river. The goal of our group — the region’s only multinational organization — is to become a catalyst for comprehensive water policy reform. We are aided by an unexpected phenomenon: In a region where people often feel helpless after years of turmoil, our efforts at environmental peacemaking offer an opportunity for constructive action, dialogue, and cooperation.#

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Civilised Israelis and Palestinians work for peace: compiled in 2010

  1. […] so many civilised Israelis and Palestinians work for peace, some details recorded here, and the settlement of Neve Shalom (above) shows what is possible, Macintyre ends by saying that it […]

  2. […] An Israeli hoping for reconciliation – the surest path to peace By admin News of civilised Israelis and Palestinians working for years in a more low key way for a peaceful future was given in an earlier post.  […]

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