Talking To Jews: A Step Forward
- A Must Read from Leah
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 10:47:39 -0700
From: Leah Green <leah@...>
"I have nevershared this with anyone, but because of how I have been
heard here this weekend, I feel I can share it with you all. I have
been afraid of what people would think of me, but I feel that the
only way is to work with the Israelis. I participated in a march with
the Israeli Co-existence Association a few months ago. And I know
what some people would say about me because of this, but this weekend
I realized that I did the right thing, and I will keep doing these
things in order to make the peace."- Palestinian participant,
Compassionate Listening workshop, Bethlehem, May 2003
Dear Compassionate Listening Friends,
This very moving account of our Bethlehem workshop is written by one
of our Compassionate Listening trainers, an Arab woman from Seattle.
Please forward as you like - we all need rays of light in these
times. (excuse the multiple copies some of you are receiving I'm
sending this to several different lists.)
my best to you,
It is hard to describe what has happened these last three or four
days, but I wanted you all to know that good work is happening here.
We just completed a three day compassionate listening training in
Bethlehem, just a seven minute drive and an Israeli checkpoint away
from our hotel in Jerusalem. We stayed at the Bethlehem hotel, the
only one open in the city, a four star hotel that continues to stay
in business because of the daily weddings in their banquet room....
There were 25 Palestinians in the training and it was the most
amazing thing I have participated in, in that there were countless
things we did not anticipate, and ended up re-vamping our entire
training on the spot, in accordance with where people were, and their
needs. There was simultanious translation going on at all times, and
at one point my co-leader and I just decided to stop the training and
do what was actually needed, which was to sit and listen to them.
(duh). There were lawyers, psychologists, Palestinian peace-workers,
conflict resolution people, and teachers at the training, 20 men and
5 women, Christians, Muslims, old and young. We had to turn people
away who wanted to participate at the last minute. Even with all our
concerns about "are they getting it???", I just trusted that "I work,
and the format works". At the ending circle last night, we finally
got it.....they got it. One woman came up to me afterwards, crying,
and told me that these were the best three days of her life, and when
would we be back.
Another man, who did not talk at all during the training, finally
spoke in our completion circle, he said "I have never shared this
with anyone, but because of how I have been heard here this weekend,
I feel I can share it with you all. I have been afraid of what people
would think of me, but I feel that the only way is to work with the
Israelis. I participated in a march with the Israeli Co-existence
Association a few months ago. And I know what some people would say
about me because of this, but this weekend I realized that I did the
right thing, and I will keep doing these things in order to make the
Another man, who did not speak any English, an Engineer, at one point
said, through a translator, "you are talking about listening, but
what about how I live? What about my rights? How will listening make
the Israelis give me my freedom? Give me back my house they destroyed
last month? What about my family who lives 10 minutes away that I
cannot visit?" I had determined that I would not hold any agenda that
this training would lead them to want to listen to Israelis. They are
in so much pain, I just wanted to allow some relief for them, and
leave them with what is possible with compassionate listening, and if
they choose to use it in this conflict then that is great. But when
this man said this, I realized that it was time to speak to it. I
said "I understand that you cannot move freely and that you are
humiliated and disrespected. I am not here to say that you should lay
down and accept everything, what I want to say is that there is
another way. The way you have been going about this hasn't worked,
right? You will probably never get what you want from the Israelis,
this is predictable, right? So let us try something new." I then
shared with him my experience with the Israeli soldier that I
listened to, and apologized to, and how he then was curious as to how
life is for Palestinians, but he never would be if I had just fought
him. It was an amazing moment.
I have felt as though I have been walking a tightrope. On one hand, I
am a peacemaker, on another, I am an Arab in their eyes. I must gain
trust, and stand for something. It has been very painful and hard for
me. But I have been true to myself. I feel that they know this, and
this is why they are able to listen to what I stand for, and really,
the truth is, it is what they stand for as well. As one man put
it, "you are not telling us anything new, but you are like the aim of
the arrow, you will show us the way with what we already know, which
is that we must love all people."
We invited four of them to attend our advanced training in Jerusalem
on Saturday, which would include Israelis. I was so moved by their
courage. After all, I get to walk in and out of Bethlehem with my
American Passport, yet they cannot leave their town even to go the
five minutes to the adjacent village. Bethlehem is like a ghost town,
eveything is closed, manger square empty, except for the Palestinian
Christians that visit it. Yet there these people were, trapped
physically, yet alive. I kept hearing from them all, "I want to do
any workshop or seminar I can so I can improve myself, and make a
good life for myself, I just want to live".
I love you all.
JEWS, MUSLIMS EXPLORE SIMILARITIES IN FAITHS
Sheila M. Poole, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 5/21/03
Search using the term "Muslims."
Two prayer books - one written in Arabic, the other in Hebrew and
English - brought Huma Faruqi and Jason Burn together, each struck at
that moment more by the similarities in their religions than the
The Muslim and Jewish metro Atlantans were among those gathered in a
hallway at Congregation B'nai Israel in Jonesboro, surrounded by
others from their faiths, as they pored over the prayer books - the
air punctuated by exclamations of surprise each time a common
phrasing or character was found.
"I had never been in a synagogue before," said Faruqi, who was born
in Pakistan. And she admits that until recently, she never thought
she would be in one - much less attend Friday night services.
"It was very interesting," said Faruqi, who lives in Peachtree City
and teaches at a local mosque. "I noticed they have prayers for
critical occasions. The rabbi was [saying] prayers for sick people,
and there were prayers for traveling. There are a lot of
similarities. It was like walking into a theater and watching a play.
It was so different, but after a while, it seemed like it wasn't so
different after all."
The visit was part of a program designed by Soumaya Khalifa, director
of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, and the Islamic Community
Center in Fayetteville to break down barriers between the Muslim and
Jewish communities. It follows a somewhat similar program earlier
this year when Jewish and Muslim youths met at the center to discuss
similarities and differences in their religions...
Sandy DeMuth, president of the synagogue, said the key to
understanding people from other cultures and faiths is simple:
Before the service, Chris Fuller, a 17-year-old student at Fayette
County High School, introduced himself to Walijar R. Hadid, who heard
about the services from a co-worker.
"We've all got to live in the world together," said Hadid. Living
together, he said, means accepting other religions. "The Quran says
to you be your way and to me be mine."
Fuller, who agreed, said he has a schoolmate who is Muslim, and the
two often talk about their religions. "Judaism and Islam are like
this," he said, interlocking fingers on both hands
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