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Peacemaker and musician Gabriel Halevy has created a new album which he describes as, “From the Heart to Prayer. From Rumi to Pele. From Argentinian folk songs as gifts of joy & peace to the Middle East in Persian, Hebrew, Spanish & Arabic( Lubna Salame). Original songs with Israeli vocalist( Mosh Ben Ari) and guest vocalists from Turkey, India, Jordan & New york. From African ngoni to accordion, oud & sarod, charango & viola, brass, turkish clarinet, bansouri & bombo leguero…tablas & pan flutes, violin, lira and guitar.” He needs help to release it so please go over to Headstart to see how you can help.
I was sent the link to this article in the Times of Israel by Rabbi Ron Kronish, the author of the article and a friend of our Centre of Religions for Reconciliation and Peace at the University of Winchester, UK. Rabbi Ron and his wife have given workshops at the University of Winchester in previous years and I visited his office while in Israel. He works to bring together Israeli Jews and Muslims to get to know each other. Track two diplomacy basically means grass-roots initiatives for peace and there are many such groups and individuals working in this way in Israel and Palestine. Many of them are mentioned in other articles on this blog. In this piece Rabbi Ron Kronish speaks of a tour he did of the US with the Qadi (Muslim judge) of Jerusalem.
Iyad Zahalka, the kadi (judge) of the Jerusalem Muslim Shariya court of the State of Israel, and I were grateful for the opportunity to be able to present our ideas about “the other peace process” to Jewish, Christian, Muslim and interreligious audiences in several cities in the USA during a 16 day speaking tour to the USA in late October/early November that brought us to New York, New Jersey, Detroit and Washington DC. All of this took place before the recent Gaza War.
What is “The Other Peace Process?” It is different from the political one, which has been stalled for many years. The “Other Peace Process” is sometimes referred to as “the people-to-people track” or “the peace-building process” or “track two diplomacy.” This is different from peace-making, which one of my friends calls assembling “pieces of paper,” i.e. the creation of peace treaties, usually by lawyers and diplomats, who then argue for the next several years (or decades) why the other side didn’t live up to the legal agreement that was made! The “Other Peace Process” is the one that brings people from different religions and nationalities together to encounter each other substantively and sensitively in order to find ways to live in peaceful coexistence together.
Kadi Zahalka is a Palestinian, Arab, Muslim citizen of Israel and a respected judge in our country. I am a Reform rabbi who moved to Israel 33 years ago to live in the Jewish state of Israel. I have served in educational and communal positions in Jerusalem for over three decades. I suspect that this may have been the first time in most of the cities in which we appeared that a kadi and a rabbi spoke on the same platform at synagogues, churches, mosques, universities and communal groups. (more…)
The following series of videos are of the peace tour made by Eliyahu McClean and Sheikh Ghassan Manasra in the US at the end of 2011. I wrote about Sheikh Manasra in a previous post. Both these men are significant players in the grass-roots peace initiatives of Israel and Palestine.
“Video of our Nov. 7, 2011, Jerusalem Peacemakers event, featuring grassroots activists Eliyahu McLean and Sheik Ghassan Manasra: a Jew and a Sufi Muslim from Israel. The two presented “Stories of Hope from the Holy Land: Grassroots Arab-Jewish Peace Efforts That Do Not Make the News.” The event was co-hosted by The Israel Center and UAlbany-Hillel, at Chapel House.”
This is a 24 hour festival beginning tomorrow evening in the Old City and continuing until the beginning of Shabbat. It includes tours of the Muslim quarter and a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with an emphasis on the musical traditions and prayers of the Abrahamic faiths. With artists from around the world “All of it is aimed at promoting a message of inter-faith unity and compassion by exploring the sanctity of the different traditions that converge in the city that is holy to so many faiths”. You can read the full article in Haaretz by clicking here.
“Israel has unexpectedly eased restrictions on Palestinians looking to visit Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, saying improved security meant it could let in thousands more from the occupied West Bank”. So reports Haaretz and it’s good news, or at least an encouraging beginning. I hope the day will come when members of all faiths will be able to visit their holy sites without hindrance. To read the full article click here
It is good to read of initiatives like this one where Jews and Muslims are coming together to share food during Ramadan. Sharing a meal is a social occasion when people get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere. the iftar meal, which is the first meal after breaking the fast at the end of each day during Ramadan, is also part of a religious celebration. It is preceded by the prayer of maghrib which takes place just after sunset and so on this occasion the Muslims prayed first while the Jews also prayed their evening prayer and then all came together to eat. This also provided the opportunity for the gathering to discover some of the commonalities of the two faiths. Click on the link above or here to read the article.