Creating a Positive Vision

On the 22nd January, 3 friends, two Jews and a Quaker called a meeting in Bristol (UK) to hold the people of Israel and Palestine in their hearts during this time of terrible conflict. The purpose was not merely to influence public opinion but to infuse public opinion with compassion. Why? Because we cannot even think of changing minds without first opening hearts. We believe that the 9.5 million people living in Israel and Palestine are intelligent and creative enough to find their own way to peace. They deserve our compassion. All of them. We passed round photos of Olmert and Lipni, Haniyeh and Rayan – people with names and faces, leaders who need our support to act with wisdom and humanity. Drawing on our Jewish tradition, we meditated on chesed (loving-kindness), chanted, sang and lit candles in the shape of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Drawing on our Quaker tradition, we held a meeting for worship, a gathered silence with ministry by those moved to speak. Then we shared our vision. One after another, we called out what we want to see, speaking as if it already exists, speaking from our hearts. “I see Israeli and Palestinian leaders shaking hands and smiling at each other, working together in a unified government, like Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in Northern Ireland.” “I see Palestinians and Israelis travelling freely around the country.” “I see people making music together.” “I see people celebrating each other’s festivals.” “I see children playing, carefree and relaxed.” And on and on. In the words of one participant: “I came home from this event profoundly moved and heartened. I do not believe this is a ‘cop-out’ or in any way evades the history, seriousness and dangers of the Middle East conflict, or the difficulties ahead.  Instead it reminds us that words and argument and ‘being right’ are sometimes of very limited help, but this does not mean there is ‘nothing we can do’.  Other creative, shared, responses are possible.  And beautiful.  And fragile.  And important.”

The three friends:

Lisa Saffron, author of Checkpoint – the novel of hope and inspiration about Israel and Palestine Buy on Amazon.co.uk
Sheila Yeger, author of Dove – a drama about conflict and hope. Listen free on Listening to the Tune in Dialogue
Maria Kennedy

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