Israeli, Palestinian mayors (and others)

find common ground in difficult times

Saturday, 22 July 2007


     These are times of taking innocent human souls in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and beyond -- abject failures of the human spirit.
     There were no winners, only cowards -- inept at communicating, unable to see another as human, resorting to brute strength.
     With claims of "moral superiority" that made the world cringe and degraded great traditions of culture and spirit.
     Expedient self-will, ungratefully rejecting God's gift of the human being's huge capacity for patience, courage, creativity, and finding useful ways to help each other.

     But all is not darkness.  You deserve to know this.

     On Israel Channel 1 News, a mother was crying out to both peoples,  "Couldnt there be another response besides war? 

     In the Holy Land, this life of Connection and Change was being practiced on the ground.
     Well, on a roof.
     While many Arabs and Jews withdrawing into "sides," familiar clans and old ways -- the lesser response, without distinction -- the youth and their parents of Peace Child Israel remembered their high calling together.
     Recalling who they are, refusing to be enemies, the families met on a rooftop overlooking the land to affirm their bonds and common destiny together.
     Photos of these truly great citizens are at .

     In California, a Jewish Stanford University graduate, Adi Grief ( ) was unveiling her new honors thesis on the science of relationship building in intractable conflicts -- TOWARD A TYPOLOGY OF DIALOGUE AND DELIBERATION
     You can download it at
     This new life of quality listening, sustained human relationship building, and decision-making is being validated and fastened to Earth.

     North American youth summer programs are continuing to prepare Middle Eastern leaders of the near future.
     Creativity for Peace -- -- and Building Bridges for Peace -- -- are launched, with lots of quality, determined Palestinian and Israeli teen girls.
     Seeds of Peace -- http:/ -- in it's 13th year, never gives up.
     Canada's Peace It Together -- -- preparing for it's finest-ever program, described in last Friday's Vancouver Sun:
    California's cross-generational Oseh Shalom ~ Sanea al-Salam Family Peace makers Camp -- -- is about to welcome 50 youth and adults from the Holy Land to join 150 more U.S. Jews and Palestinians to take another step toward a new future.

    And last week, some special Israeli Palestinian and Jewish mayors met more as human beings than as walled-off politicians like many government professionals.
     In time, it always works better that way.
     People do best in a safe place, with time, when everyone is heard.

     At first, the Jewish and Arab mayors didn't want to fly, sit, or eat together. 
    But Connecting and Changing didn't take much time at all.
     A Jewish mayor remembered: "But we quickly learned to like each other and even to love each other. "
     "We also learned to laugh at each other."
     An Arab mayor reflected:  "The peace won't be achieved with the leaders sitting at the table."
     We're all reminded that we citizens must -- must -- begin the Change by moving from being spectators to building bridges.

     Human bridges founded deeply cannot be destroyed by force.
     The human soul -- attached to high principles of our one-ness -- is strongest of all.

                - L&L

Published in the Indianapolis (Indiana) Star -- Wednesday, 19 July 2006
On the Web at

Israeli, Palestinian mayors find common ground in U.S.
By Amy Bartner

     Peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel may have been achieved this week -- at least on a municipal level.
      Ten mayors from Israel and the West Bank have traveled together to cities in the United States for 10 days. The purpose of their trip is to compare their own cities to U.S. cities. The mayors stopped in Indianapolis on Sunday, and they leave today.
At first, most said they were hesitant -- and downright disconcerted -- to fly on the same plane, ride in the same cars and eat at the same tables.
Then Israel and Lebanon became ensnarled in combat last week. Three of the mayors went home because their cities were in areas near the conflict.
     "It became even more unpleasant," said Meir Dahan, mayor of Maskeret-Batia in Israel. "But we quickly learned to like each other and even to love each other. We also learned to laugh at each other."
     Dahan's comments came at a reception Tuesday at the University of Indianapolis, where questions were posed to the mayors.
The mayors learned if they could get along on such a trip, then perhaps peace can be achieved between the countries, said Yaron Ben-Nun, mayor of Gedera in Israel.
     "The peace won't be achieved with the leaders sitting at the table," he said. "We're the bottom line. Shalom (peace) couldn't be achieved without any start of basic dialogue from mayors on both sides."
     The mayors had a chance to visit with Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
     Although they had formal meetings, the mayors said they also had informal talks together.
     "We have to start, one way or another, talking to each other," said Ibrahim M. A. Jaffal, mayor of Abu Dees on the West Bank.
     Charlie Wiles, international and interfaith coordinator at the Peace Learning Center, attended the discussion and said this "soft" power between leaders on the municipal level is what will bring together all sides.
     "These people are still going to be neighbors," said Wiles, a third-generation Arab-American. "People are going to have to negotiate.
     They're going to have to talk. Military will get you so far, but it is not going create a sustained peace."

Star reporter Amy Bartner is at  (317) 444-6888.