November 23, 2012

American Thanksgiving and Israeli Peace

Posted in Interfaith, Judaism at 3:58 am by chavalah

Graphic circulating around Facebook

As I decompress from a day spent with family and friends in a congenial, holiday mode of reconnecting, the latest Israel/Gaza ceasefire lays heavy on my mind. I’m thankful for any small modicum of peace, but am wary enough to expect violence to ultimately escalate again. When it comes to Israel and Gaza, politics and violence seem to loom large. It can seem like a never-ending cycle of futility. From the outside (and often the insides, as either Palestinian or Israeli, Arab or Jew), it’s easy to keep up with the bunker mentality, choosing a side and demonizing the other. Even as someone adamant to toe the moderate, pro-everyone line, I found myself frustrated and even angered last week when my American non-Jewish friends didn’t seem to have sympathy for the fact that my Israeli Jewish friends were under fire, in the case of the south on and off for years.

Last Rosh Hashanah, my rabbi spoke in frustration about issues of racism cropping up in Israel, and pointed to interfaith groups a bastion of the larger, quieter Jewish nation, which strives for equality and peace. I realized this line of reasoning doesn’t only work for internal problems but for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a whole. These folks work “behind the bunker,” as it were, and reveal a society that is more than just a warzone. It’s a society with a chance for peace.

So in honor of my country’s Thanksgiving, and the ceasefire in the Jewish Nation, I present a list of these groups to be preserved. Please feel free to add any more in the comments!

Economic Initiatives
Valley of the Peace initiative: to promote economic growth between Israel, Jordan and Palestinians

The Israel-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: seeks to enhance bilateral trade between Israel and the PA

Alliance for Middle East Peace: coalition of 85 NGOs to promote Jewish/Arab peace

Friends of the Earth and the Middle East: brings together Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists

MEJDI Tours: joint Jewish-Arab tour group of Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt

Peres Center for Peace: started by Israeli President Shimon Peres to promote peace-building between Israel and Arab neighbors, and Jews and Arabs within Israel

Joint Palestinian-Israeli-International Economic Working Group: identifying economic win-win scenarios for Palestinians and Israelis

Givat Haviva: promoting mutual respect, civil responsibility and cooperation between divided groups in Israel

Parents-Circle-Family Forum: bereaved families supporting peace, reconciliation and progress

Neve Shalom, Oasis of Peace: Joint village founded by Israelis and Arab citizens of Israel

Hamidrasha Jewish-Arab Beit Midrash: Center of study and fellowship for Jews and Arabs

Seeds of Peace: camp in Maine bringing together countries in conflict; started with Israelis, Palestinians and Egyptians

Professionals Groups
Israeli-Palestinian Science Group: promoting academic interaction between Israelis and Palestinians

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra: from Seville, Spain, brings together Israeli and Arab country musicians

Comedy for Peace: Israeli and Palestinian stand-up comedians

Educational Efforts
MEET- Middle Eastern Education Through Technology: at MIT, summer camp for Jewish and Palestinian young technological leaders

Hand in Hand Billingual Arab-Jewish Schools: in Israel, including in Jerusalem, Galilee, Wadi Ara and Haifa
(Also Hagar School in Beersheva:

The Institute for Circlework in Israel and Palestine: focus on empowering women and healing

Cultural Diversity at TEC, the Center for Technology: Tel Aviv colleges featuring online courses for college and school children, Arabs and Jews

Political activism
One Voice: moderate Israeli and Palestinian voices

The Abraham Fund: Promototes Coexistance and Equality Among Jews and Arabs in Israel

Brit Shalom, pursuers of peace: Jewish and Palestinian peace activists

Combatants for Peace: Israeli and Palestinian veterans of armed conflict advocating peace

Jewish/Muslim relations
Children of Abraham: bringing Jews and Muslims together

Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations: academic centre in England promoting interfaith dialogue


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