Arts of Music, Food, Literature, Film

unite Muslims, Jews, Christians, all, at year's end

Friday, 29 December 2006


     This 2006 year is ending.
     Signs are that 2007 is bringing a new surge of citizen connections, communication, compassion and creativity.
     A stream of progress is appearing even now, emanating from citizens with courage.

     Below is one old Story and several new ones that portend change through the arts..
        1.  FRANCIS: Model citizen-peacemaker
        2.  Todays citizen-peacemakers through the Arts: Literature, Food, Music, Film
     Our experience and faith is that everyone has a soul -- a quality within whose oldest memory is of union.
     And whose deepest longing is for reunion.
     Know that, and reach out to others, especially "enemies," just like the people described below.
     Bless your year in our first decade of "The Citizens' Century."
     A great time to be alive and contributing.

                - L&L

1.  FRANCIS: Model citizen-peacemaker
     "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (1968, Franco Zeffarelli) about Francis of Assisi seared in our memory images of what peacemaking looks like.
     Francis had joined the European Christians' Fifth Crusade not as warrior but as peacemaker.
     In times when some of the most visible signs of the Christian religion were the wars and atrocities of the red-crossed crusaders.
     Yet, Francis lived among them, discouraging violence and prescribing compassion and principled living at the highest.
     Returning home, distraught from seeing the slaughter of Muslims,.Francis underwent an extraordinary life-change.
     Few realize that Francis, in one of his most poignant acts, sailed across the Mediterranean to the Egyptian court of Muslim Arab al-Malik al-Kamil, nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the hapless Third Crusade.


The Peaceful Crusader

By Thomas Cahill

The New York Times  --  Monday, 25 December 2006


     Kamil, wise and moderate, was deeply impressed by Francis courage and sincerity.
     The Muslim leader invited Francis to stay for a week of serious conversation.
     Francis, in turn, was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their five daily calls to prayer.
     The thrice-daily recitation of the Angelus that became current in Europe after this visit perhaps was precipitated by the impression made on Francis by the call of the muezzin.
     Just as the quintessential Catholic devotion of the rosary derives from Muslim prayer beads.

     Francis returned to the Crusader camp on the Egyptian shore and desperately tried to convince Cardinal Galvani, empowered by the Pope to lead the Crusade, to pursue a peace.
     After all, the Muslim sultan, with far greater force on his side, was all too ready to do so.
     But the cardinal had dreams of military glory and would not listen.
     His eventual failure, amid terrible loss of life, brought the age of the crusades to its inglorious end.
     Francis is now considered the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.

     Islamic society and Christian society have been generally bad neighbors for nearly 14 centuries, eager to misunderstand each other, often borrowing culturally and intellectually from each other without ever bestowing proper credit.
     Now Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sacks, almost as if  thinking of Kamil and Francis, reminds us:

Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. ... There are, surely, many ways of arriving at this generosity of spirit and each faith may need to find its own.

     To build a future better than our past, we need, as Rabbi Sacks has put it, the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.
     We stand in desperate need of contemporary figures like Kamil and Francis of Assisi to create an innovative dialogue.

2.  Todays citizen-peacemakers through the Arts:
      Literature, Food, Music, Film

LITERATURE (Three women)

     THE FAITH CLUB is a 2006 best-seller about three women --Muslim, Catholic and Jew -- who helped each other learn and become more human.
     After September 11th, Palestinian-American Ranya Idliby, inspired by a story about Muhammad, reached out to two other mothers to better  understand  and answer their children's questions about life.
     With Jewish Priscilla Warner and Catholic Suzanne Oliver, the women created an honest and open environment where they could admitand discusstheir concerns, stereotypes, and misunderstandings about one another.
     After hours of soul-searching about the issues that divided them, Ranya, Suzanne, and Priscilla grew close enough to discover and explore what united them.


The Faith Club

A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew -- Three Women Search for Understanding

Free Press --  October, 2006  --  320 pages


     These three women have spawned new interfaith discussion groups in living rooms, churches, temples, mosques, and other settings.
     Their last chapter provides detailed advice on how to start a faith club -- questions to ask, books to read.
     Most importantly -- the open-minded attitude to maintain in order to come through the experience with an enriched personal faith and understanding of others.

FOOD (Three women)



Published in Ma'ariv - Tuesday, 26 December 2006

by Dudu Bazak


     Everyone talks about peace, but there are some who cook it.
     Three women from Nazareth and Upper Nazareth, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim, go from one informal social gathering to another and cook their best national foods.
     And when everyones stomachs are full, they talk about coexistence.
     Soon a large conference called COOKING FOR PEACE will be held, and invitations have also been sent by mail to Abu Mazen and to Olmert.
     Just before the war in the north ended, three successful businesswomen who do community volunteer work decided that the time had come to take action.
     The battles, the bereavement, the Katyusha rockets that landed in the heart of Nazareth and its surroundings led Lior, Elham and Caramine to embark on a campaign of persuasion, with the message that the three religions can live alongside each other.
     To succeed where others had failed, the three women chose to try and persuade from the stomach.
     Already during this painful war I decided to do something, the Muslim woman, Caramine Abu Taha, recalls.
     We feared that after the war, everyone would lose faith in coexistence, and as a gimmick, we decided to draw people in through their stomachs and to talk as we cook.
     The idea, it seems, succeeded very well.
     The ambitious group collected close to 100 members, and while cooking couscous, special breads and makluba (vegetables with rice and chicken), they talk about ways to live together.
     There are ideological arguments, but the food creates fraternity and unity, explains Liora Lowry, the chairwoman of the non-profit organization for promoting women in which the women are members.
     The COOKING FOR PEACE conference will take place in a month under the sponsorship of the Upper Nazareth municipality, Mayor Menahem Ariav and the Plaza Hotel.
     There is nothing to worry about, the food will be from all the religions and kosher (and hallal), promises the Christian, Elham Marka.
     Recently the women sent letters to Israeli and PA leaders and invited them to attend. The women also told the leaders of their special project and gave them tips on how to make peace, not just talk about it. Finally, they asked that women, as well as a lot of food, be included in the talks.



        The power of music can spark myriad emotions in someone listening alone at home to its rhythms and lyrics, it can transfix a crowd of thousands taking in a concert in a large hall or stadium and many musicians believe it can bring peace to a troubled world.
     Jewish Israeli singer, songwriter, and pianist Shlomo Gronich has been performing for six years with Palestinian singer Lubna Salame as ADAMAI.
     The two met while recording the anthem of a PEACE CHILD ISRAEL -- a teen group who, with their families, promote and live a life of coexistence in Israel.
     At a recent concert in San Francisco, Gronich acknowledged his partner and the multi-ethnic ensemble as he introduced the song, Zman es Salaam.
     "It means 'It's Time For Peace,'" he told the audience.
     "I know it sounds na, but here, look at the stage - the miracle really happens here so it should happen everywhere."
     LISTEN to the inspiring 6-minute Voice of America news report:

Musicians Bridge Political, Religious Conflicts as Peacemakers

By Jan Sluizer

San Francisco

22 December 2006


    The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians recently performed at the United Nations and Carnegie Hall.
     Conductor Daniel Barenboim conceived the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with his friend, the late scholar and advocate of a Palestinian state, Professor Edward Said, and established it in 1999.
     This summer, during the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the orchestra voted to add a political statement to its program, stating that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the destinies of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples are inextricably linked.
     "It is not an orchestra for peace," Mr. Barenboim said.
     "Peace requires much more than this.
     "But it is a message of the orchestra that there is no military solution, and therefore we have to learn to know each other and find a solution that is just for everybody. . .conditions that we have in the orchestra, which are conditions of equality."
     Read more about these inspiring Jews and Arab musicians and their New York performances:

Confronting Conflict With Barenboim


Published in The New York Times -- Monday, 18 December 2006

Barenboim Seeks Harmony, and More Than One Type


Published in The New York Times -- Thursday, 21 December 2006




     In Washington, DC, 29 November 2006, the diplomatic, congressional, and communities of various religions gathered for a multicultural evening of socializing and creating community.
     His Excellency Shamsher Chowdhury, an enthusiastic advocate of interfaith engagement, hosted at the Embassy of Bangladesh -- largely Muslim.
     Personal offerings from many faiths were expressed and well received.
      Although Bangladesh is a small, densely populated country in a continent battered by war and violence, we are proud to be a democracy, said Ambassador Chowdhury, and I believe we can be effective brokers for peace, he added, alluding to his fellow Bangladeshi, Muhammad Yunus, who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to bring Grameen Bank programs to impoverished families in Bangladesh.
     Together they screened GOD AND ALLAH NEED TO TALK.
     It a film for healing and reconciliation post 9/11, made by Los Angeles interfaith activist Ruth Broyde-Sharone ( ).
     Choudry is eager to extend networking opportunities among the diplomatic, congressional, and interfaith communities in the nations capitol.
     At the Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, he urged the participants to seek even greater avenues for dialogue and multicultural engagement, nationally and globally.
     VIEW the 5-1/2 minute news video, broadcast by Voice of American (VOA):