Evening at the Friendship Cafe, Gloucester: May 22nd 2017

I always gain so much from the Spirit of Peace evenings at the Friendship Cafe in Gloucester. Over the years that this event has run, a fraternity has built amongst those who attend (a shifting population though it is) which carries an energy of great hope and possibility.

May 22nd was no exception. As well as eating wonderful food provided through a shared meal, and catching up with others on a similar wavelength, we were blessed by a most profound talk by a former Israeli soldier, Ben Yeger. He told the moving story of how he came to see that there are no 'Us and Them', no 'Enemy', but simply, US. The epiphany for him was when he found himself pointing his gun, at point-blank range, at a Palestinian prisoner whom he was guarding in a transit vehicle. He was instructed to shoot this man dead if he were to try to escape or became violent. Seeing the terrified state of this fellow human being, Ben knew that if he were to shoot him, he would also kill his own humanity. Mercifully, he did not have to shoot him and it lead to Ben leaving the army and to him becoming a Combatant for Peace (now the European representative for the organisation), along with other Israeli former soldiers and, even more impressively, with Palestinians of the same persuasion.

The talk was about Ben's personal journey and the work that is going on in Israel and Palestine in the direction of peace. It is painstaking, difficult, risky and slow work. I was filled with admiration for the courage and determination of those involved.

The focus was on Israel and Palestine, but the message was more universal than that. Who are our personal 'them'? Ben was keen to stress the importance of our own inner work in recognising how we all make 'them' out of other people. We need to become aware of this dynamic, question it, and work to overcome it. He was also keen to say that everyone is at the particular stage that they are in this regard and that we are in a process of change that cannot happen overnight.

It is daunting to know what an enormous and profound work this is. But it is also inspiring to see such wonderful efforts being made in the direction of peace and to know that we can make a significant contribution by who we become in our own lives, day by day.

- Judy Clinton

Visit of Ben Yeger from Combatants for Peace

On Monday 22nd May 2017 are delighted to be welcoming Ben Yeger from the organisation Combatants for Peace, to our Bring and Share community supper at Friendship Cafe, Chequers Bridge, Gloucester (see here for event details).

Ben is representing Combatants for Peace, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian ex-combatants to work towards peace. From the prism of his personal experience Ben will address the following question: Are we separate entities or intrinsically interconnected with all things and beings? Our education encourages a sense of separation of "Us from Them" in Human-to-Human, Human to Nature and Human to Spirit relationships. But is this true?

Ben grew up in Israel with the narrative that "I have an enemy who wants me destroyed, who I must fight, to protect myself." An ex-combatant in the Israeli army, over the last 9 years Ben has been working with the 'Enemy', exploring the possibility that everything is interconnected and interdependent and that this story isn't true. There is no "Them" - only "We". In this talk, he will share his personal story of how he came to this realization. He will also show a trailer for the film 'Disturbing the Peace' which focusses on the work of the ex-combatants. Ben Yeger is the European representative of Combatants for Peace ( and Director of Moving Conflicts ( He was a TEDx speaker in Warwick in 2013

News of the Spirit of Peace Stroud Conversation

The listening conversation in Stroud is usually held every 3rd Monday of the month at The Christian Community, 7p.m for 7.30p.m till 9p.m. Snacks and drinks - as a bring and share - are offered before and after the meeting.

This group started a few years ago, after the visit of Spirit of Peace Partners Sheikh Ghassan Manasra and Ibrahim Issa of the Hope Flower school, when they came to Stroud and introduced to us their style of "conversation cafe". In these, people would come together, from all paths of spiritual beliefs or non, "just" out of a wish to meet, converse and understand 'the other'.

This inspired Larry Leighton and Malcolm Alsop to introduce such conversations regularly (for 7 years now ) and create together a warm circle attempting to truly listen together - to create a space - and let come, out of this quality what emerges. This living process strengthens our common humanity and makes us all appreciate our differences .It is not "pub chat" but rather deeper and reflective exchange. No one tryes to convert or persuade anyone else or to judge them.

Sometimes we have a theme, sometimes not but always a rich sharing developpes - listening in between the words - listening to the after image~ creating a vessal together for more Peace and Brotherliness in the world.

These evenings are warming, strengthening and inspiring helping us to stand in the world with more awareness, consciousness, courage and responsability.

Juliette Elgably-Leighton and Larry Leighton

For details of dates please see events section or email

Spirit of Peace Bring & Share Community Supper

Fair Shares - What's a Community Time Bank?
How you can be part of it?

Monday 10th October 2016

The Friendship Cafe, Chequers Bridge, Painswick Road,
Gloucester GL4 6PR

What are time banks and how do they fit into our world of community building and opportunity? The first "time bank" was started by Fair Shares in the UK around 18 years ago. Gloucestershire is part of that initiative and has always been at the forefront of the timebanking movement.

Starting at 7pm on Monday 10th October, Gloucester based Fair Shares Time Broker Reyaz Limalia is guest speaker at the next Spirit of Peace community Bring & Share Supper at The Friendship Cafe, Chequers Bridge on Painswick Road, Gloucester GL4 6PR

Reyaz says, "Timebanking is a tool that brings people together. They exchange their skills and experiences helping to build on the strengths of the community. Please come along and find out how we have developed timebanking in Gloucestershire and how it's affected the lives of those involved. We will also have time for questions and discussions".

The evening is organised by UK registered charity Spirit of Peace in partnership with the Friendship Cafe Community.

Contributions of vegetarian and alcohol free food and drink for the supper are much appreciated. Everyone is welcome.

Admission is free but donations supporting the ongoing local and international peace work of Spirit of Peace are appreciated.

For more information: Neesa Copple (local coordinator) Tel: 01453 759 689 or Mobile: 07837 403 854 or email

Spirit of Peace Community Meal at Friendship Cafe

23rd May 2016

Peace ambassadorsWe had another inspiring meeting at the Friendship Café. Members of the community of the Grange, Newnham on Severn, came to celebrate and share their 'gold award' as Peace Ambassadors. The process has taken three years, supported by the Asha centre and Spirit of Peace. The prevailing mood of the ceremony was one of great joy and celebration. Each member of the community stepped forward and talked passionately and often movingly about their journey towards their award and why they believe they are truly Peace Ambassadors.

"because I bring love to all I meet", said one

"because I see beauty in everything and everyone", said another

One just reached out her arms and embraced the whole room, a gesture that was far more eloquent than a thousand words.

For me, the most poignant was a woman who talked about her work to combat hate crime against those with learning disabilities. She and some friends from the community speak on the radio and go to schools in Stroud and Gloucester to talk about the personal impact such abuse has had on their self esteem and confidence. "It was so good to be heard" she said to me.

Civil-isation - It's all about respect..

We are delighted to share news from Civil-isation, a new initiative that aims to link like-minded people through the ethos of respect, shared values and celebrating diversity.

Founded on the fundamental right of all to the dignity of respect, click here to learn more and become an advocate for this important work.

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