Dear colleagues and supporters in
Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue and relationship-building,
News from the Middle East can be discouraging. Yet, in the Dialogue we determine never, ever to leave one another, but to endure side-by-side on the highest possible road we can imagine.
Climb every mountain, ford every stream
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream
A dream that will need, all the love you can give
Everyday of your life, for as long as you live
When faced with the difficult, the impossible, this is the prescription for courage, love, and totality in the great musical, THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
Sounds of music are indeed
bringing together Palestinian and Israeli citizens, in contrast to governments'
In Ramallah, West Bank, renowned Israeli musician Daniel Barenboim returned to perform classics for 350 Palestinians.
He played a program of Beethoven sonatas, including a duet of the "Moonlight Sonata" with 26-year-old Palestinian pianist Salim Abboud. There were three standing ovations.
"The time has come now not to build walls but to build bridges," he said.
The story is on the Web at:
In Israel's Kibbutz Sdot Yam,
Jewish and Arab youth met at a music camp to build relationships and to play
the oud and darboukas together "with total enjoyment, like a person who
eats enthusiastically with his hands when nobody is looking."
The camp initiator, Forum for National Consensus, works to change from isolation and foreignness, and for rapprochement between Jews and Arabs. The article is on the Web at:
The great musical -- WESTSIDE STORY.
Einstein's words that never leave us: "We cannot solve today's problems with the same kind of thinking that produced them."
The lyrics of "Somewhere" that recommended and prophesied:
We'll find a new way of living,
We'll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere . . .
There's a place for us,
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we're halfway there.
Hold my hand and I'll take you there
day of forgiving, with other kinds of music, was celebrated Sunday, August
3, 2003 in the Band Shell of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
It was the International Day of Forgiveness presented by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance:
An honoree was Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue whose participants find that, by taking the "other's" hand and entering into compassionate listening, "we're half way there."
Published in the San Mateo
County (Calif.) Times -- Monday, August 4, 2003 -- page one headline and lead
Group is honored for bringing together Jews, Palestinians in County
Living room dialoguers follow their own road map
By Amelia Hansen, STAFF WRITER
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the last 11 years, members of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group have been sharing thoughts on stereotypes, anger and forgiveness within their San Mateo homes.
Sunday, they brought their thoughts and words out of their living rooms and into the sunlight at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell in San Francisco, where they were honored for their work.
In honor of the seventh annual "International Forgiveness Day," sponsored by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, Palestinians Elias Botto (Elias@GNSonline.com) and Nahida Salem (TheSalems@aol.com), along with Jewish dentist Len Traubman (LTraubman@igc.org) and his wife, Libby, were recognized for their emotionally provocative conversations, which have taken place 135 times since the group's inception.
The group -- which Len Traubman calls the oldest sustained dialogue group of its kind in North America -- is composed of Muslims, Jews and Christians. Over the course of the last decade, members have come into the group bearing grudges, mistrust and admitted ignorance of their perceived "enemies."
They have come out, say Salem and Traubman, with a deeper understanding of one another and, in some cases, have become true friends.
"You can't want peace without wanting relationships," said Traubman, standing on the stage near his wife, Botto, and Salem. "We do not leave each other, no matter what the headlines say."
For the small audience -- many wearing World Forgiveness Alliance T-shirts and sunglasses -- seated in front of the bandshell, the group's work was a happy example of peace in a non-peaceful time.
Sunday, Palestinian gunmen shot and wounded four Israelis in Jerusalem after Palestinian and Israeli foreign ministers disagreed over the possibility of a permanent cease-fire.
But even in San Mateo, the road map to peace has at times been a rocky one.
"It took several months for me to be convinced to go," said Salem, who lives in Belmont and operates a business with her husband in San Mateo. "I had people say to me, 'How will sitting around and talking change anything?' But I felt like I had nothing to lose, that I would give it a try."
Salem said the first time she went to the Traubman's San Mateo home, she brought six Palestinian friends with her -- she needed support to go into a Jewish home.
"In the beginning, we had arguments, yelled at each other," said Salem, who left Ramallah for the United States in 1968. "We talked about the misery my people are going through."
And they were frank about their stereotypes of each other.
"I thought of Palestinians as nomads, dirty, wandering the desert," said Libby Traubman.
"We were ignorant," Len Traubman said simply. "We didn't know them, hadn't eaten their food, hadn't experienced their love. Our inherited stories and half-truths about history caused us to make some bad decisions."
Traubman said that when he was a member of a Jewish dental fraternity, he helped raise money for Israel. When his daughter was born, one of his first gestures was to buy a bond that would go toward planting trees in Israel.
The group lays no claim to be a model of perfection in the realm of forgiveness.
Libby Traubman said the group discussed whether or not they should even accept the award, and had to ask themselves what forgiveness really means.
But, Traubman said as she accepted her plaque, being forgiving is a process, not an individual accomplishment.
"I realized I don't have to be perfect," she said. "Whenever I bump up against something, I tell myself, 'Resist not.'"
Staff writer Amelia Hansen can be reached at 650-348-4301 or by e-mail at AHansen@angnewspapers.com .