Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine
A SHINING WEB OF GOOD HEARTS AND GOODWILL
IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
Jack Kornfield Ph.D.
In a recent visit to the peacemaking communities of Holy land, I found an astonishing (and hardly reported) web of hundreds of organizations fostering reconciliation and peace in powerful ways among goodhearted people on all sides.
Careening around the West Bank through armed checkpoints and guardposts, guided by the wise Sheik Abdul Aziz Bukari and unflappable Jewish activist Eliyahu Mclean, founders of Jerusalem Peacemakers I was led to meet with leaders (and sometimes to offer teachings to) Arab, Israeli, Christians and Druze who were dedicated to planting seeds of respect and healing in this torn land.
It was a wild ride. We drove around the West bank and through barrier wall avoiding checkpoints, listening to Santana and the Grateful Dead (the Sheik lived in California for some years) changing our garb and hats to fit the need, Arab Kaffia, Jewish yarmulke/kippah, secular jackets. Sometimes it was like the Marx brothers, sometimes like James Bond. We met with fundamentalists, mystics, shopkeepers and soldiers in Hebron and yogis and sages in the desert beyond Jericho. There were peace marches across Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives for hundreds, with Muslim, Jewish Christian leaders. And an amazing walk from the Holocaust Memorial into the Palestinian refugee camps, led by an Arab leader intent on teaching his people about the painful history of the Jews in Europe. And thus also helping the Jewish people understand the Naquba, the catastrophic loss of Palestinian homes and villages in the 1948 war to found Israel. There were the Combatants for Peace, former Palestinian and Israeli fighters now fighting for each other’s well being. There were the Bereaved parents in Ramallah/West bank and their partners in Israel. There were the Israeli/Arab women’s groups “Beyond Words” that are working for women’s right and planting hundreds and thousands of olive trees. There is the wise old bearded Chassidic settler Rabbi beloved on all sides who was mediating between Hamas fighters and the Israeli Dept of Defense. There is the Holy Land Trust, run by Semi Awad, a Palestinian center for Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence in the Arab world located a stone’s throw from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. There was Neva Shalom the peace village founded by a catholic priest for Muslims and Jews, hosting a hundred Palestinian and Israeli teens who had been meeting for 2 years and were now bringing their parents from the west bank and Israel together with tears in their eyes trying to teach them to listen to one another. There were the widespread activities of a whole group of Rabbis for Human Rights, and the Interfaith environmental and peace council meeting at the Sheik’s Sufi center in the Arab quarter of the old city with Bishop’s, Imams, Rabbis, and other community leaders. There was Ipisam the big hearted Arab woman whose name means smile, who runs empowerment and peace groups for women and ran for political office (to the chagrin of the local male Muslim leaders) and who inspires healing work on all sides.
There was Stephen Fulder, Naturopath who opened a large clinic in the Galilee for the Palestinians in the adjacent village and is teaching Arab women the ancient tradition of herbal medicine and Stephen’s counterpart,the village Sheik who has spent all his family money bringing sick Palestinian children across the wall to good hospitals in Israel. There was Abdulla, the dignified Arab director of the large Jenin refugee camp, now actively a part of the Middle Way peacemaking group. And all over these committed people are using the widely spreading skills of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, of Jack Zimmerman’s Listening Council, of mediation, mediation, Mindfulness, of Peter Levine’s Trauma Therapy, of Arab practices of Houdna reconciliation. I spoke to a hall of a thousand people in Tel Aviv teaching them some of these practices and honoring the widespread support for these heartening possibilities.
EVEN THOUGH THE SITUATION IS BAD, POLITICALLY POLARIZED AND DIRE, THIS IS ONLY ON ONE LEVEL. ON ANOTHER THERE ARE A HUNDRED GROUPS OF UNRECOGNIZED COMMON FOLKS, HEROS AND HEROINES, TIRELESSLY SOWING THE SEEDS OF GENUINE RECONCILLIATION OF THE FUTURE FOR ALL WHO WILL LIVE IN THE HOLY LAND. BECAUSE THE LIVES OF THE ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS ARE NOW SO INTERWOVEN ON THIS SAME PIECE OF LAND, THERE IS CLEARLY NO LONG TERM MILITARY SOLUTION. THEY KNOW THE WORLD IS WATCHING AND THAT IF THEY CAN SHOW HOW TO LIVE TOGETHER IT WILL BE A SYMBOL FOR ALL OF HUMANITY.
I WANT TO TELL THESE STORIES AND GET THE WORD OUT TO THE MEDIA SO THEY CAN REPORT ON THEM (otherwise the continually repeated stories about fear and violence will sow more fear and violence).
AND I WANT TO LOOK FOR FUNDING FOR SOME OF THESE BRAVE PEACEMAKERS. IF WE CAN SEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR ARMS, WE CAN SPARE A FEW PERCENT FOR PEACE. THIS IS OUR TRUE FUTURE.
With appreciation for all who read these words,
Dr. Jack Kornfield
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Woodacre, Ca 94973 415-488-9780