Our first converstaion on 2stars4peace in Ammann

The day we arrived in Ammann we’ve met with Betsy Fisher and some of her friends from England and Akrum from Jordan … In a nice little cafe we chatted about 2 stars4peace and why it could/could not work …
It’s quite a long conversation (quick and dirty cut), aber worth watching!

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Israeli Students on 2stars4peace …

With a friend we went to Jerusalem University and talked to a few young students about the 2stars4peace idea … Very interesting arguments and thoughts!

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In and around Jerusalem

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View from Space

This is the part of the world we are talking about …
Looks so peaceful from above!


Pict taken from the ISS.

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One way to “life” with the conflict …

Funny and inspiring speech by the Palestinian author of “Sharon and My Mother in Law” – Souad Amiri

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Right out of Jenin Refuge Camp: Rami Al-Bali

Rami has several jobs. One of them is Encompass Coordinator for Palestine. He is based in Jenin and was raised in the refuge camp there. A place which really had some very hard times around 2003-2006 and hopefully won’t fall back into it after the murder of Juliano, one of the founders of Freedom Theatre, Jenin.

Encompass is a London based organization working to empower young people to make positive changes in their local communities through promoting tolerance and intercultural understanding. Encompass came about thanks to the inspirational work of the Braden Family and Jun Hirst – Dan’s girlfriend. Daniel Braden was amongst the 202 people killed in the terrorist atrocity on Bali on October 12th 2002. He was blown apart by people who saw him as a Westerner and therefore, the enemy. Jun and the Bradens concluded that while one group of people is able to dehumanise the faith or the culture of another, events like the one that killed Dan would go on happening. They wanted to show that such indiscriminate killings could be prevented by opening the minds of young people to the value and humanity of the other.

And so Encompass was formed.

Dirk interviewed Rami at the Cinema Jenin guesthouse.

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Juliano was dreaming of peace, and he was killed …

Nobody expected it …. everybody is telling me. Juliano Mer Khams’ was murdered.
A shock. A nightmare.
For all of us who are working in one way or the other on achieving peace in this part of the world.
A blow up in all the faces of Palestinians and Israelis who want peace so desperately!

Juliano founded the Freedom Theatre in the heart of the Jenin’s refugee camp. His dream was that the 3rd intifada would be an intifada of culture – music, theatre, dance, poety …

I think Juliano’s message today would be: Don’t stop! Believe in peace!
So keep on going …
Keep on dreaming!

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Impressions from Israel

Three and a half days in Israel can only give you a glimpse of the Israel’s point of view (as if there would be only one). What I understood form our several meetings and interviews: Of course all of the Israelis we spoke to want peace with their neighbours. However it seems to be impossible for people to unite in one movement standing up for achieving peace and remove the roadblocks.

Topics we discussed

Campus of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Campus of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Whom did we speak to

Certain topics came up repeatedly in our discussions. I think these are the most important ones:

  • Most people are tired of the conflict and more and more seem to just “switch channels”: They have resigned and opted to ignore the conflict by focusing on different things.
  • Many of them don’t trust their own government to be able to solve the conflict.
  • The actively involved parties in Israel seem to be divided and often arguing about the right way on how to proceed.
  • That’s why some of our contacts asked for 3rd party involvement to speed up the process, such as the EU or the US.
  • Some suggested, that US should immediately stop their financial support for Israel because this will increase the need for a peaceful solution: Israel’s political behaviour often seems to be based upon their status of a super military power. Which reminds me of tactics of the Cold War.
  • Education, transparency and empathy are key to drive change. Today’s situation is different: Not knowing the neighbour plus biased second hand information scare people and create fear. Unfortunately it got rather difficult to keep company with Palestinian people in real life due to limited travel and information.
  • Military service is often influencing young people in a bad way. People told us about the negative impacts they’ve experienced in daily life with people, who just came back from the army. They often show a lack of respect for other people, a general impatience and a growing level of violence.

Based upon what I’ve heart I am still hopeful, that Israelis will find peaceful ways for a change. For instance, some of them arrange camps over a weekend, where Israelis and Palestinians meet and spend time together – some participants became friends for life this way. These movements foster empathy.

We’ve heart people, who were self-critical – knowing they need to do more than just to speak. And finally, we saw not only at the Universities in Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem, that students with very different backgrounds live and learn together without having any apparent problems.

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

My take away from Israel

Israelis we spoke to all want peace with Palestinians. However, it seems to be difficult to unite and go into the streets demanding a serious peace process. But people also know they can’t just wait for politicians to solve the issue.

Still: if the roof is burning, you shouldn’t go to sleep in your house, even if you are tired. I really wonder what is needed for the majority to wake up joining activists in their initiatives to achieve permanent peace for the middle east.

More about 2stars4peace:
http://facebook.com/2stars4peace
http://twitter.com/2stars4peace

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Meeting students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva

Sunday, 6th of March 2011 – Be’er Sheva, Israel

On our trip through Israel the first stop was Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of Negev in Be’er Sheva. That’s where Martine Rothblatt, author of the book, presented the 2stars4peace idea in May 2010, when she received her honorary doctorate from BGU.

Building at the BGU Campus

Anne Berkeley (responsible for coordinating external activities of the University) and the student council set up a meeting with students interested in discussing the 2stars4peace idea. They varied in age and field of studies such as geography, arts, political science.

To be very honest – the meeting was discouraging. The students admitted, they were tired of the countless unsuccessful peace initiatives. Many of their friends even reached the state of ignorance, “switching channels” whenever the conflict occurs. Nevertheless all of them know without finding a solution peace will remain out of reach. It seems to be such an easy thing to ignore.

There is no simple way to solve the conflict, as there are quite a couple of issues to be solved: from religion to the right for refugees to return back home – many of them are covered in Martine’s Book.

Despite peoples active engagement, it still seems impossible to merge all activities into one movement – finally strong enough to drive change. A couple of times it reminded me of the following scene from “The Life of Brian”:

Besides this tiredness, I also became aware of a political shift. The left-wing gets significantly smaller, while the right-wing oriented parties grow. Their view is based on the status of Israel being the super military power. That is why one of the students suggested that US should stop immediately any financial support for Israel Military, in order to increase the pressure on Israel’s government to work towards a real solution.

Another student mentioned, 2stars4peace is not going far enough. Instead of solving the problem the traditional way (with boarders and belonging to some state), she doubted the concept of nations at all. Why not reaching out for ONE world with ONE universal government. A very progressive approach – probably a bit beyond anyone’s thoughts.

Again another student added, that Israel and Palestine becoming  each a US state would mean to erase Zionist’s history …

A “real” solution needs to start with love – that was mentioned by the students. People need to get to know and respect each other (see this related blog post). From later talks with Israelian and Palestinian people I learnt it was much easier in earlier years to keep up relationships and friendships since today it became much more difficult and time consuming to cross checkpoints. And still the language barrier – at least among the young people – exists!

Most of our students (and people we spoke to later on) think there is no real conflict between the people (excluding radicals on both sides). They blame their governments and hidden political and economical interests to prevent the conflict to be solved.

Hopefully these students together with activists will create one joint movement. Let’s also hope it doesn’t “need another 30 years”, as one student said. Waiting will not solve any problem at all.

More about 2stars4peace:
http://facebook.com/2stars4peace
http://twitter.com/2stars4peace

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Hamzeh Alzawaydeh on 2stars4peace

Hamzeh lives in Wadi Rum and he is working as a teacher 50 km from its hometown. We took this interview right after sunset in Wadi Rum.

Sometimes it’s really easy …;-)
Love it!

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