...reflections from a Compassionate Listener

Friday, December 8, 2006

Peace Building: Israel, Palestine, Antalya

I am full of stories from our November 2006 training delegation in Israel and Palestine, and the peace conference in Turkey that some of us attended afterwards. I watched our group of participants create beautiful containers over and over again for those we sat with, and hearts opened - ours and theirs. It was a privilege to sit with so many beautiful souls: a former celery farmer evicted from her Gaza home last year, a mayor elected on the Hamas slate, and the founder of the right-wing Jewish settlement next door to his village. We listened to a Jewish director of special education centers in the Galilee whose son was wounded in Lebanon last summer; and a Palestinian-Israeli mother grieving the loss of her 15-year old daughter and her home to a Hizbullah katusha rocket during the Israeli invasion in Lebanon last July. Seeing the group hold Israelis and Palestinians from such a wide political spectrum with such compassion was a sacred process that, once again, restored my hope and faith in humanity. Each participant stretched, and saw the benefits.

Education for Peace and Democracy Conference, Antalya Turkey, November 19th – 23rd, Sponsored by Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI).

After the delegation ended, seven of us boarded a charter plane from Tel Aviv to Antalya, Turkey, along with 170 Israelis and Palestinians, to attend the conference. In Antalya, we met up with 100 other peace-builders from America, Europe and other countries. There were formal plenary sessions in the mornings and evenings, and eight concurrent sessions to choose from at all times during the day, including a film room.