Jewish-Palestinian Jerusalem Circus on MSNBC Internet news
26 August 2001
In Jerusalem, the wind is blowing 100
kilometers an hour, when people's principles, souls, and dreams are tested.
It is popular to support the way of violence that cannot work -- to "show them" and "teach them a lesson" until "they understand." If you're Jewish, this is the easy route -- socially acceptable to many of your neighbors. If you're Palestinian, you will earn approval in your neighborhood.
But, even today in the storm, some Palestinians and Jews are not allowing themselves to be carried by the wind, to destroy lives and relationships.
In bitterly divided Jerusalem, "The Circus" is providing a meeting place and training ground for girls and boys, and their mothers and fathers, to demonstrate a new kind of life together.
This working model of relationship -- however small or unnoticed, popular or not -- is an inspiration and a light from Jerusalem.
Acts of kindness and models of cooperation -- large or small -- can only help, wherever we live.
You can see the MSNBC video news report on The Jerusalem Circus is at:
1. Follow the MSNBC Windows Media Player directions.
2. Turn up the volume controls in (a) your computer and (b) the MSNBC pop-up box.
3. Allow time for the video from MSNBC to load.
Essence of the MSNBC news video report:
In bitterly divided Jerusalem, children - half of them Jewish, half Palestinian -- once likely to be enemies, are now becoming fast-friends.
Shareen, a 14-year-old Palestinian, looks after her 10-year-old Jewish friend, Marie, like a protective big sister.
Shareen: "When you think politics, you think 'Oh, I hate the enemy.' But when you actually get to know the people, you get to know the other side. It's a totally different thing."
Aron, who is Jewish, spends afternoons at Abdullah's house in a Palestinian neighborhood, while their mothers talk over coffee "like two friends, two sisters."
More than a year ago, Elisheva Tobias came up with the idea that a circus could unite Arab and Jewish children and their parents.
Elisheva Tobias: "We believe that we have to start something together. We can't stop the dialogue and doing together -- something. If we stop, it's a tragedy."
The youth also know that this is about something bigger than their personal friendships.
This kind of joint activity between Palestinians and Jews was a lot easier before violence increased. Now some of the children and parents find themselves subject to criticism in their own communities for associating with the other side.
So it's not just fatherly duty, but an act of courage, when Abdullah's father loads up the circus carpool.
The circus finale is a human pyramid of Palestinian and Jewish girls and boys -- a symbol of the trust and cooperation they have learned to overcome decades of violence -- a moment Elisheva Tobias has been dreaming about.
Elisheva: "When the people see them and say 'bravo,' it's not going to be 'bravo' to the Jewish kid or the Arab kid. They're going to 'bravo' to everybody, together."
Elisheva Tobias, founder of The Jerusalem Circus, is at firstname.lastname@example.org.