A Journey to Israel and Palestine

By Sabine Lichtenfels of the Institut für Globale Friedensarbeit IGF@tamera.org

Dear friends,

From December 26th 2001 to January 3rd 2002 I, Sabine Lichtenfels, went together with three young people from the peace school Mirja - Doerte Paulick (24yr.), Vera Kleinhammes (17yr.) and Benjamin von Mendelssohn (28yr.) - to Jerusalem. We went on this journey in spite of the sudden death of our friend and ecologist Juergen Paulick who died very unexpectedly on the 22nd of December. We knew how much he himself was in favour of this political journey and how important the work in Palestine/Israel was to him. More than ever we felt connected to the sentence: "A Palestinian mother sheds the same tears as an Israeli mother by the loss of her son.". We knew our own pain about the loss of a beloved.

We decided to undertake this political journey spontaneously in the middle of December as the Israeli Peace network was still seeking support for a large peace manifestation. Vera was invited as a young speaker to this event by the women peace organization "Women in Black". At the same time the trip was meant as a preparation for the international Peace camp which we will hold in Tamera from the 5th of August to the 6th of September 2002. To this we invite Israeli and Palestinian peace workers and young committed people. This trip was made possible through generous donations by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schlote from Frankfurt and other private supporters who strongly support the realization of the Palestine/Israel Project in Tamera. We want to publicly say 'Thank you' for this trust in our work. Thanks to Monika Berghoff who takes care of the Palestine/Israel network. Due to her we had an impressive list of people who we wanted to visit.

We arrived at 4 o'clock in the morning of the 27th of December at Ben Gurion Airport. There we met Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa, a 59 year old man from the Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem who generously accommodated us. Thanks to Michael Lightweaver through which this contact came about.

Ibrahim El-Hawa is a peace worker of the heart: "My family lives here for over 1400 years. We want to live together with all religions Jews, Muslim, Christian, no matter whether Israeli or Palestinian. We have to know each others history then we will also be able to love one another. The suicide bombings are the acts of desperate people who have no hope and who revolt against a government which does not even secure the most basic rights of life." Ibrahim El Hawa is a simple man but from his humane behaviour and warmth of the heart we found a real master of trust and love. He gives all his energy to a Bedouin village which we visited. It is a tribe of original Nomads who are now forced to live in a slum after being bereaved of their basis for self-support by the growing settlements. They live there without water and electricity. It would be wonderful if Tamera could contribute with some direct help.

With regard to the political situation of the country it was absolutely exceptional to live in East Jerusalem as European guests. Hardly any foreigner, definitely no Jew, goes into this area, for it is the neighbourhood of the Arabs. One expects the hate and the aggression of its inhabitants. For Ibrahim El-Hawa it was a huge gift that, during our stay, we met with Israelis at his house. To comfort them he actually picked them up personally with the consequence that important talks were held at his table.

On the peace march - organized by the "Coalition of Women for a Just Peace" - Vera held her first speech in front of about 3000 people. Her speech, showing a strong connection with the issue, was read with both firmness and clarity and received strong applause. (You can read the speech at www.tamera.org.) This was the opening for our networking contacts. From this point we became familiar with the leading forces of the peace movement. We received deeper insight into the political situation of the country through our talks with Gideon Spiro and Uri Avnery. For people who want to get more information about the situation I recommend "80 Thesis'" by Uri Avnery (see at the bottom). This shows the complex situation of the country very clearly. We talked to committed Rabbis, like Jeremy Milgrom of the "Rabbis for Human Rights", who is well known in Germany for his commitment. Together with him we visited the Palestinian Refugee Camp Aidacamp near Bethlehem. We got to know Palestinians who had witnessed children being shot directly in front of their eyes by Israeli soldiers, people who have been hurt themselves and who nevertheless decided against hate and, instead, committed themselves to peace work. The 22year old Kareem Amira is building up the social centre and peace initiative "Lajee Center". We got to know Rabbi Eliyahu McLean of the "Peacemaker Community" who is engaged in bringing together leaders from different religions. With him I visited the well known Sufi master Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari who offered to support us in the work of the Peace camp and wants to visit us. Similarly we encountered a huge interest in cooperation almost everywhere we turned. The people are aware of the urgency of an intensified peace work. They are searching for new answers. By their tradition (Kibbutz movement) they are familiar with the idea of politically effective social experiments. Many wish and search for support. In this context we had a particularly intense meeting with Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi. We visited him in "Hamakom - A Place for the knowledge and the experience of Jewish wisdom" near the Dead Sea. This would be a perfect place for a later cooperation including retreat and reflection. Together with his community and Victor Barr, a specialist in geomantic power spots, we visited the Qumran Caves. We sat together in the former habitat of the Essenians and talked about the meaning of community and new social structures, about sexuality, religion and structural non-Violence. Of course, the possibility of helping to build a peace village in Palestine/Israel comes to mind.

Other important encounters were: with founding members of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Sala. (Oasis of Peace) - a community of Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship, existing for over 25 years. With Mohammad Darawshe - director for Public Relations at "Givat Haviva" - an organization that brings together Arabs and Israelis. And with Dr. Neve Gordon - a young professor for politology in Jerusalem. He organized, with "Ta'ayush", a food convoy of about 80 cars to the occupied Palestinian village Beit Umar. We participated in this convoy which was both very peaceful and moving. Unfortunately the media scarcely covered this event. Instead they chose to show the violence which occurred at a much smaller gathering at a different checkpoint. It was generally very striking how much more the press is interested in sensation stories than in real peace initiatives.

Through the talks two main directions of a future cooperation between Tamera and the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement crystallized:

1. Neve Gordon as well as Mohammad Darwshe and Ibrahim El-Hawa want to bring young Israelis and Palestinian people to Tamera. Representatives of "New Profile", young conscientious objectors who look for mental support, are also invited. We were invited to return to Israel to prepare young people, together with "Givat Haviva", for the Peace camp at Tamera.

2. The other important point is that Tamera is a place outside of the area of crisis and therefore offers a oasis of calmness and strength to initiators of the peace movement. Tamera has been proven as a fertile meeting place to come together and develop new strategies. Emerging from this long term thoughts of further cooperation including the ideas of a peace village shall be born. In this context the Healing Biotope stands for the exploration of the general structures of violence and searches healing alternatives leading towards a global culture of peace.

The first 10 days of the Summer University in Tamera will focus on the development of a global peace movement: the ecological, political and social perspectives and the networking of them. We will introduce the thoughts about peace villages and their history. After a three-day break the intensive research time starts with a week of encounter, art, excursions, forum, common story-telling and where you can see and get to know each other more. Most likely we will compose a day of art in a grove of ancient olive trees.

The fourth week is around the themes - history of the culture from which I originate - religion and faith - social ideas - future of my country. The last week will be about: So what is to do? Ideas for cooperation - wishes and perspectives for further cooperation.

We want to work together with different organisations and also create a place for reflection in Tamera for leading forces of peace initiatives. A group of the Youthschool Global Learning, who are in the course of their education for international peace work, plan to go to Israel again in April. We will give a more detailed account about our experiences and conceptual thoughts.

Already now we ask for strongtatkräftige (strong power) support and financial support in order to enable as many betroffene?? as possible to come to Tamera and give the necessary power to the whole Palestine/Israel-project. Help is urgently needed now. We give thanks in advance for cooperation and support. For financial support please use the bank account below.

Warm greetings and Thank you!

In the name of IGF staff

Sabine Lichtenfels<
Sabine K. Kleinhammes - IGF, Caixa Crédito Agrícola S. Teótonio, 7630 Odemira/Portugal,
Account No. 40 143 446 353, BLZ (für Portugal: NIB): 00456332 40143446353 40 Keyword "reconciliation camp"

You can find the 80 Thesis' of Uri Avnery:
For background information and current news:

Please also visit our homepage: http://www.tamera.org

IGF - Institut für Globale Friedensarbeit
Heilungsbiotop I Tamera
Monte do Cerro
P - 7630 Colos
Tel.: ++351 - 283 635 306
Email: igf@tamera.org