Dear Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue participants and supportive
In the public peace process, students are increasingly revealing themselves as intellectual and spiritual leaders.
This is a new breed of students of academics and of people -- with qualities of courage.
These fast learners are willing to move beyond "taking sides," limited identification, debate, and obsolete inherited agendas toward a whole, new social intelligence.
Below are examples of three events these students have created:
1. DAY OF MUTUAL RECOGNITION (University of California, Berkeley)
2. JEWISH-MUSLIM DAY AND EVENING EXCHANGE (Univeristy of Wisconsin, Madison)
3. THE ROCK PROJECT (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
These young women and men deserve
everyone's attention, encouragement and support.
Please do what you can to encourage and help student bridge-building activities at institutions near you.
1. DAY OF MUTUAL RECOGNITION
(University of California, Berkeley)
Recently no American universities have done more to help their students heal campus relationships over the Middle East conflict than Georgetown University ( see http://traubman.igc.org/gtown.htm ) and U.C. Berkeley.
At Cal, a handful of inspired students created their recent campus "Day of Mutual Recognition."
Be sure to view their streaming videos, especially the first two, which the University of California filmed and made available, at the top of:
University of Wisconsin, Madison, two healing events were described by
undergraduate student Julie Weitz ( JMWeitz@hotmail.com ).
2. JEWISH-MUSLIM DAY AND EVENING EXCHANGE (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Friday, April 25, 2003 Julie's Kavanah: A Progressive Jewish Voice teamed with the Muslim Students Association to create a "wonderful event."
At 12:30 p.m., this "student exchange" began with Jewish and Muslim students meeting at the campus mosque to attend Friday services.
The Muslim students described the details of the service and the Jewish students observed or participated in the prayers, then the students shared impressions and asked questions.
In the evening, the Muslim students met up with the Jewish students at Hillel. They we split up into groups to attend the Orthodox, Conservative or Reform services.
After prayers, Hillel hosted the student groups for dinner.
Julie wrote: "It was wonderful! Again, we asked each other questions, compared beliefs and practices, and casually became better friends over dinner."
"At one point, the Muslim students went upstairs to pray their evening prayers for the day.
"After the meal, a few students remained, drinking coffee and shmoozing away. Everyone was very pleased with the event.
"In the future, we hope to have more social events like this one to get to know each other better.
"This was just the beginning!"
3. THE ROCK PROJECT (University of Wisconsin,
Thursday, May 8, 2003, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Library Mall -- a large meeting place -- was created by and for University of Wisconsin students to share their feelings about the Middle East conflict.
The campus-wide invitation from the sponsoring Kavanah: A Progressive Jewish Voice " said:
We believe dialogue and a sharing of thoughts with other students and the general campus is most important.
We hope to create a peaceful environment for students to express their feelings about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by inviting you to write these thoughts on rocks.
Rocks symbolize the Palestinian struggle as well as Jewish mourning.
We will be displaying the rocks all day long and adding to them as more students share their thoughts.
Peaceful poetry and prayers will be shared from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Please stop by library mall and share your thoughts anytime during the day.
The more diverse the opinions that are displayed, the more successful the project will be.
Hope to see you there!
The students set up a table at 9:00
a.m. on Library Mall.
Posted signs explained:
Throughout the day, students wrote with permanent markers on rocks their personal responses to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
They then placed their rocks in the circle of stones already set up on the grass.
You can see photos at http://www.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b33f6909059c .
Students wrote on stones in English, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean and Chinese.
Participants included Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Turks, Chinese, Koreans -- Muslims, Jews and Christians -- students directly associated with the conflict and others with little knowledge of it at all.
Responses spoke of peace, reconciliation, understanding, love, and an end to militarism, violence, war and occupation.
Julie reflected: "The strength of the Project, and one we had not anticipated, is that the writers of the rocks remained anonymous and their political agendas were therefore unclear.
"The ambiguity of the statements forced viewers to let down their guard and sense of victimhood.
"For example, a Jewish friend of mine pointed out the word "Guilty!" written across a rock.
"At first, she was extremely disturbed by this statement, immediately internalizing the exclamation as an accusation against Israel.
"But the more we discussed the meaning of its author, we realized that we could never know its true intent.
"The point of this Project was to allow people to respond in any way they felt appropriate as long as it did not advocate direct violence or hate.
"The word 'Guilty!' did not necessarily point in one direction.
"Ironically, I was later discussing this incident with another Jewish friend of mine who ended up being the actual author of this rock!
"She explained that by writing 'Guilty!' she had relieved herself of the guilt she often feels for not doing enough work towards creating peace in Israel.
The students collected more than 200 rocks, which they will store during the summer and bring back out for another event in the Fall when they hope to partner equally in co-sponsorship with their fellow Muslims and Arabs.