"Breaking the Ice" -- Spreading the spirit to Chile

     Tonight, Saturday, 31 January 2004, 10:40 pm, you would have wanted to be at the Santiago, Chile Airport. 
     The historic, returning "Breaking the Ice" expedition team of Israeli and Palestinian women and men, having navigated Drake Passage back from 30 days in Antarctica, flew from Punto Arenas to Santiago's Aeropuerto Arturo Merina Bentez. . .into the open arms of Palestinian and Jewish residents of that city who are rallying themselves as never before around the travelers and their high purpose.

     Beginning only days ago with the seed of an idea -- and from a place of interest, but doubts, fears, and mistrusts -- a handful of Santiago's Jews and Palestinians, navigating their own way through some misunderstandings and temporary reversals, stayed faithful to one another and to hosting the expedition team. 
     Throughout the process of planning to receive the travelers -- like "Breaking the Ice" itself -- the Chilean Arabs and Jews never gave up.  And they have begun to transform their distanced lack of relationships to a partnership, growing hour by hour. 
     Even while the Jews withdrew to be faithful to their ages-old Sabbath day, their new Palestinian partners re-doubled their own planning efforts to make sure all travel, hotel, and reception plans were secure and excellent.

     Tonight -- 1:30 in the morning Santiago time -- Rabbi Roberto Feldmann phoned from Chile.  Out of enthusiasm and fulfillment, he described the airport reception scene. 
     "It was so wonderful -- every second and moment," he said of airport welcoming, relating, and press interviews.
     Rabbi Feldmann was accompanied by Carol Unger and Alberto Stern, who photographed and videofilmed every moment.  The Palestinian hosts were Mario and Jaime Nazal, and journalist Pato Abusleme. 
     "They were so warm and kind," said the rabbi.
     "Mario spoke so nicely from his heart, and hosted in a fine room in the beautiful, flowing Palestinian way."
     Journalists at the airport were very sensitive and thoughtful, in respect for the high purpose and huge accomplishments of the Middle Eastern partners.
     "It was the first time we had been at the same table -- Jews and Palestinians," said the rabbi with a sense of authentic delight and real gratitude. "It was a very balanced, loving moment."
     "We agreed we needed to get together more -- and not just us adults, but definitely our youth!"
     Roberto also said that Alberto Stern made a beautiful video of all of it.  And lots of photos were taken.
     They all agreed that "something is happening in Chile now."
     They agreed that a Monday public hotel presentation will be arranged for yet others in their communities, to also better allow for reporters and TV crews to be invited by both "sides," when the "Breaking the Ice" team sits down to tell their stories.
     "We, heads of communities, had never comet together.  Mario and I made a pledge to stay together.  My heart is expanded."
     "It was energies meeting and become synergy."
     The hosts drove the full team of 15 to the fine hotel with its eight rooms provided by both communities, equally, in the spirit of Dialogue itself.

     And Palestinian Pato Abusleme (pabuslem@puc.cl), matching Feldmann in excited sleeplessness, wrote at 2:55 AM about the Israelis and Palestinian team:
     "It was amazing to see them all and perceive the tight relationship they developed with one another. It was a real privilege to meet them all.
     "It was also a huge privilege to meet in person Rabbi Feldmann, Carol Unger and Alberto Stern. It was great to see people from our local Palestinian and Jewish communities sitting on the same table.
     "That's one of the first achievements made by the Breaking the Ice expedition: to bring Jews and Palestinians a little more together here in Chile. I hope that we were not the only case, but that the example given by Mr. Nathaniel and his unique crew will help millions of Palestinians and Jews around the world to sail together on the same boat, as they just did, to the common goal of peace."

     They are sleeping now, and tomorrow, Sunday, they have been provided a van to relax and do as they wish before Monday's full telling to more Jews and Palestinians, and to broadcast and press reporters, of their profound adventures on stormy seas and the peak of "their" Mountain of Israeli-Palestinian Friendship.
     Knowing the power of story, Monday promises to be another peak experience..

                     With full hearts and hope tonight,    Libby and Len