News Archive 2016
Alliance for Middle East Peace (Allmep)
Jerusalem Peacemakers, with the Abrahamic Reunion, led a workshop on April 7, at the Jerusalem YMCA in Religion and Peacebuiding at the first community graduate fair of ALLMEP, the Alliance for Middle East Peace.
Joining our workshop were activists from Kids for Peace, the Elijah School, Kaleidescope, the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the US Embassy Public Diplomacy Dept. and others. When the media reports on the Holy Land, religion is always portrayed as the obstacle to peace, we explored how we, as faith based organizations can re-claim the religious voice to be the leaders in bringing peace to the Holy Land.
Joining me from the Abrahamic Reunion were: Haj Ibrahim Abeulhawa, Pastor Daniel Aqleh, Muhammad Jammous from Jericho, and Musa Sabatin from Husan.
Peacemakers in Ramallah
At the end of March several of our peace partners spent a facinating morning and afternoon in Ramallah discussing how they can more productively grow 'Salaam/Shalom' between their peoples. You may recognise some familiar faces including Eliyahu McLean, Fr Nael Abu Rahmoun, Elana Rozenman, Ibrahim Abu El Hawa and Abed Manasra (son of Sheikh Ghassan Manasra)
Great Abrahamic Pulse
On February 1st, the Abrahamic Reunion joined by peace musician James Twyman, hosted the 'Great Abrahamic Pulse', a global prayer for the peace of Syria. 80 people made a multi-faith journey to the Golan Heights, gathering on the Syria border: Israelis from Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the Golan; Palestinians from Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, East Jerusalem and Jericho, joined by an international group of spiritual peace seekers. This event also honored World Interfaith Harmony Week.
We began the day with a shared lunch at the 'Shalom Restaurant', in the Druze village of Mas'adeh. Israeli tour guide to the Golan region, Amir, took us to the Druze town of Majdal Shams on the slopes of Mount Hermon. Overlooking the Israeli-Syria security fence, Muslims, Christians and Jews, we stood on "shouting hill", where the Druze gather to speak to relatives on the other side of the border.
We continued south to the view point overlooking Quneitra, an abandoned town on the Israel-Syria border. While Quneitra is held by the Syrian army, nearby villages are held by rebel groups, including ISIS. We could hear the sounds of battles raging in Syria, not far from where we stood.
We then drove up to Mount Bental, to hold the Abrahamic Pulse global synchronized meditation event. As we approached the mountain we noticed a full rainbow around the sun. Arriving at the summit, we planted a 'peace pole', with four languages, 'May Peace Prevail on Earth', in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Japanese. We saw stunning views of Mt. Hermon to the north, and to our east, the divided villages of the Syrian Golan Heights region.
James Twyman and Eliyahu McLean gathered the diverse crowd into a circle. James Twyman shared: "We are here to prove the enduring power of love. At 5 PM Israel time, we will demonstrate the reality of peace, praying in silence for 15 minutes, when millions of people will join us at the same moment". I pointed to nearby Syria, directing our intentions to the 10 million Syrians who are either refugees or internally displaced from a horrific civil war.
Religious and spiritual leaders then shared these prayers:
Abuna Nael Abu Rahmoun, Anglican priest from Nazareth: "we pray for peace in the Holy Land and for the people of Syria for peace, justice and reconciliation for violence to stop! We also pray for all the refugees, those who stayed in Syria those now in Jordan, Lebanon and Europe. "
Ahmad Jamal el Nassan from Gaza City called in and shared this: "We, the children of Abraham, pray together to one God. We the people of Gaza, pray for the people of Syria may we be free to join you in person soon".
Rabbi Yakov Drori from the House of Love and Prayer in Tsfat, on guitar sang beautifully the Shlomo Carlebach melody: "Shalom, Shalom, let there be peace "
Sheikh Muhammad Usta from East Jerusalem shared in Arabic: "Oh God, You are the Peace and from You is Peace "
Sheikh Jamal al-Din from Beit Haninah, Jerusalem: "May Allah unite us and bless our efforts for the sake of peace"
Dvorah Pearlman, from Klil, founder of the annual Jerusalem Hug shared, "now we expand our Hug of Jerusalem to Hug Syria once we connect with our own hearts, then we are connected with 'the other'..
Mira Drori, Tsfat: "Lets' also make peace with our spouses and children, in our daily lives "
Rabbi Yakov Drori added: "May Hashem put peace in the hearts of the decision makers, for Syria, and the world."
Rev. Ed Townley from the Unity movement shared: "Love is the greatest power of all, love will overcome all obstacles."
Father Russ McDougall of Tantur Institute shared this intention for the silent prayer: "May each of us, in our silent prayer, be aware of our presence in God, and open to God's love working through us to help others."
James Twyman led a chant and dance for unity, and Eliyahu led us in a chant of "Shalom, Salaam"..then raising our hands together.. our circle converged to bless the peace pole, the intention to anchor our prayers there.
At 5:00 PM Israel time, we prayed in silence for 15 minutes, tuning into the Abrahamic Pulse global synchronized meditation. For those minutes, the sounds of the battles below ceased entirely! Howls from a pack of jackals broke the silence.
We gathered for a closing circle, carrying the prayers of people all over the globe who had just joined us, sending hope from the Holy Land, to Syria and the world.
We received widespread media coverage, including reports in Breaking Israel News and Al-Hurra Arabic TV network.
Global networks joining us included the URI: United Religions Initiative and Unify.org.
Eliyahu McLean, Abrahamic Reunion, director
with Abdel Salaam Manasra, asst. director
Thanks to support from the Abrahamic Reunion global office in Sarasota, FL, and to West Bank coordinator, Arafat Abu Rass
Jo Berry in Gloucestershire
Spirit of Peace in Gloucester was truly honored to have Jo Berry talking to us at the Bring and Share Supper at the Friendship Café on Monday March 7th
When Sir Anthony Berry MP was killed in the IRA Brighton Bombing during the 1984 Tory Party Conference, his daughter Jo was thrown into a conflict she knew very little about. Since then she has visited Ireland many times and worked with victims and former combatants from all sides. In November 2000 she met Patrick Magee, the former IRA activist responsible for her father's death.
Patrick had been given multiple life sentences for the Brighton Bombing but was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. He has since been actively involved in peace work, including supporting Jo in her work with Building Bridges for Peace, a charity she founded to promote peace and better understand the roots of war, terrorism and violence. You can find out more at buildingbridgesforpeace.org.
Jo Berry told her story powerfully and movingly. In her quiet and understated manner, she talked directly from and to the heart and I doubt anyone could have heard her without not only feeling her story's emotional impact but also its call for individual and collective transformation.
"I'm beginning to realise that no matter which side of the conflict you're on, had we all lived each others lives, we could all have done what the other did."
This unusual empathy, her ability to hear the hidden human story behind even the worst atrocity has been born from her own tragedy.
"I wanted to meet Patrick to put a face to the enemy, and see him as a real human being."
In a time when the fear of the other is leading our world into increasing sectarian violence hers is a counter cultural voice. After a daily diet of horrors in the news it was such a balm to hear her stories of other quiet voices of love and compassion in war torn countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Rwanda.
In the audience we had people from Palestine, Rwanda and South Africa. Her response to honest and personal reflections from the audience of their struggles to reconcile or forgive were heard with true humility and personal testimony. The question she asked us was: "Who are you blaming?" This drew many personal reflections on the nature of blame, how easy it is to push blame onto the other and lose both our own and the others' humanity.