“An enemy is one whose story we have not heard” is the principle experience of these women and men, including students, who are discovering a new quality of listening to one another’s often-clashing, but equally authentic narratives.
Beginning with this compassionate listening — without “yes, but” — the Muslims, Christians, and Jews will hear one another’s unique personal stories. This is the first step toward finally discovering that the “other” is human and equal. For some, what follows is the life-changing human shift — wanting the best, not just for oneself, but for the “other” as well. With more citizens like this, laws and treaties that serve both peoples equally will finally succeed.
“Changing strangers into friends and ‘enemies’ into partners is not easy work,” say organizers Libby and Len Traubman, co-founders of the 13-year old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group in California — the oldest of its kind — preparing for their 159th meeting.
“Sustained Dialogue can begin with fury or courtesy,” adds Palestinian Elias Botto, weekend co-host and an original 1948 refugee from his family’s Jerusalem home. “But eventually the human emotions are revealed, an then — with dedication and staying together — the people and relationships heal.”
The weekend is intended to improve the poor quality of listening in America and the Holy Land, and to help end war, increase cooperation and create leaders who can be for both peoples equally.
With educational exhibits, inspiring videos and shared personal experiences, the Arabs and Jews will discover together how to begin and sustain relationship building in their cities and campuses, communicate with the public, and support public peace processes “back home” in the Holy Land.
Louisville was chosen for this important conference because of last year’s community spirit in responding in thousands to the “Making Harmony” performances of Palestinian and Jewish Israeli youth musicians brought here from the Middle East by a handful of local Jews and Palestinians during the city's 2004 Festival of Faiths.
This "public peace process" was first defined by Dr. Harold Saunders, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, and facilitator of the Camp David Accords. Saunders implores citizens to participate fully in partnership with governments. He says, “There are some things that only governments can do, such as negotiating binding agreements. But there are some things that only citizens outside government can do, such as changing human relationships."
The press is invited to observe the closing hour beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Ramada Inn Riverside, in Jeffersonville. For more information, search Google for “Jewish Palestinian Louisville” or see:
Libby and Len Traubman
1448 Cedarwood Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
LTraubman@igc.org — Tel: 650-574-8303
At the Ramada Inn Riverside:
700 W. Riverside Drive, Jeffersonville, IN 47130