Imagine all the people living life in peace
Palestinians celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, on August 8, with a dip in the sea at Tel Aviv. Israel has this year allowed tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians to visit Israel during Ramadan.Photo by Oren Ziv/Active Stills/Al Jazeera
For one magical moment it seemed like a dream had come true. One state, one park for all its citizens.
By Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz
August 11, 2013
A slender crescent moon in blackening skies, two days after the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul. Like every Friday night, whitish smoke rises from barbecues on the park lawns. But tonight it’s holiday smoke. It’s Id al-Fitr, and crowds of Israeli Arabs fill Yarkon Park.
Many Israeli Jews are also in the park, as usual on summer evenings. The parking lots are full, a truck advertising Mansur Landscaping parked alongside Levinson Brothers, engineers. That was the scene two nights ago in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv.
For one magical moment it seemed like a dream had come true. One state, one park for all its citizens. On the beaches of Jaffa and south Tel Aviv over the past few days one could see masses of Palestinians from the territories who had received permits to celebrate at the forbidden sea; and in Yarkon Park, Moshe, Grisha and Mohammed grilled the same shish-kebab. The music was also mixed – Israeli Mizrahi, Russian and Arab with touches of Hare Krishna from a procession of passing adherents. Quite a few Arabs were listening to Eyal Golan. Multiculturalism.
In the park of all its citizens, there seemed to be an Arab majority, perhaps half and half. The “demographic danger,” in all its horror, the Zionist dream cut short for a moment. And yet nothing happened. Moshe, Grisha and Mohammed barbecued and all was well with everyone; they were much more concerned about how their meat was grilling than their right to the land. Crowds of children went crazy riding multi-cycles for rent. You could also get a ride on a pony for NIS 20 or mount a wagon pulled by a donkey for NIS 10. The ducks in the lake were a special attraction for children who had never seen a duck before. Sellers of glowing glitter that lit up the sky over the park were making a good living.
Palestinians and Israelis enjoy the Mediterranean sea during the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2013. The three-day holiday at the end of Ramadan is marked with prayers, family reunions and other festivities. Photo by Oded Balilty/ AP.
Everything seemed forgotten for a moment on this glowing Friday night: the fears and the hatred, the racism and the nationalism, [Upper Nazareth Mayor]Shimon Gapso and [Deputy Minister of Defense] Danny Danon. In this apartheid state this park (and many others) was still open to all its citizens, as opposed to what was the case in the country where apartheid originated, South Africa. Here you have a PR victory (on points) for apartheid-deniers. As much as a quick visit can attest, there were no racist or nationalist incidents in the park, no fights or even remarks.
A few years ago I described on these pages a similar multicultural scene on the Jaffa slope promenade, which was new at the time. That scene has repeated itself there every week. A year ago I described the first holiday in which large numbers of Palestinians were allowed to go swimming in the sea at Tel Aviv, and not a hair on the head of even a single Israeli fell because of it, and that, too, was a great thrill for me. These are the drops in the sea, the first harbingers that should presage something different.
Yarkon Park looked on Friday night the way a country can and should look. It is childlike, dreamlike and silly to think that what happens on one night in the park can suddenly become a way of life. That all the fears and hatred can be left behind, barbecuing meat and making peace, behold how good and how pleasant. But in contrast to other bitter nationalist conflicts, here it is (still) possible. In South Africa, in Northern Ireland, in Bosnia and in Rwanda this could never have happened during their years of strife. We must remember this. We must remember that after we have enumerated all the difficulties and supposedly insurmountable obstacles, two peoples exist here, who, on their basic human levels can (still) find a common language. Try to put an Israeli and a Palestinian from the same socioeconomic background together and then try that with an Israeli and a Swiss person. The Israeli will share a lot more laughs with the Palestinian.
On Friday night in the park I imagined for a moment that everything could have looked different; how everything could perhaps still look different one day, or one Sabbath eve, after the politicians, the generals, the propagandists and the journalists stop inciting, frightening and brainwashing us and after justice reigns here, around the park as well, when this midsummer night’s dream is past.
The Yarkon Park, March 2013: the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) and Rabbis for Human Rights, based on support from The Julia Burke Foundation, Anne Frank Fonds, and the British Shalom Salaam Trust organised this Jewish-Muslim discussion on environmental sustainability.
The Jewish group consisted of Jerusalem-based rabbis and rabbinical students from Sulam Yaakov, the Nachlaot Beit Midrash for Leadership Development. The Muslim group was comprised of students and staff from Al Qasemi Academy, located in Baka al-Gharbia. The project was implemented and co-sponsored by The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) and Rabbis for Human Rights, based on support from The Julia Burke Foundation, Anne Frank Fonds, and the British Shalom Salaam Trust. – See more here.
Instead of dwelling on technical details, borders and other nonsense we must strive for conciliation and acceptance, a process that begins at imagining a joint future on this tiny piece of land.
By Kobi Niv, Ha’aretz
August 6, 2013
In order to create something, you first have to imagine it, to describe in words the world you want to create. Only then can you build it with deeds. Just ask God.
Therefore, if we, both Palestinians and Israelis, truly and sincerely want to make peace with one another, we must first of all imagine what it will be like.
We must imagine how we would like to see that peace. First of all, we must describe that peace in words; only then can we begin to draft it with agreements and lines drawn on maps.
Just imagine, for example, in another 12 or 27 or 40 years, the joint Memorial Day for the fallen of the wars of the past between our two nations.
At the very same moment, a two-minute siren will be heard in the streets of Tel Aviv, Nablus, Be’er Sheva and Ramallah.
The sons and daughters of both nations – irrespective of where the border will be – will all stop their cars, emerge and stand silently – Jews with kippot, Arabs with kaffiyehs, young Israelis and Palestinians, standing side by side – on roads, in schools and in public institutions, during those two minutes of silence in memory of the fallen of both nations.
If you, we, they (call yourselves and them whatever you like), don’t want to or are incapable of imagining this painful, beautiful, moment, the epitome of conciliation and acceptance, then we lack both any hope or way to reach peace and any future, together or separately.
Instead of striving for conciliation and acceptance, instead of imagining a joint future on this tiny piece of land, instead of creating that peace, each time we do meet we dwell on technical details, borders, formulas and other nonsense.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century, spent an entire generation – 27 years – in prison under South Africa’s oppressive, white regime.
When he was released from prison and was finally called upon to lead his nation, to take the reins of power and to make peace between the downtrodden blacks and the whites who had oppressed them, he spent not even one second on seeking revenge for the sins of the past or on figuring out exactly who did what to whom and why.
Instead, he just looked straight ahead – toward the shared future of that land’s two races, and he created a deep, broad process of national conciliation and acceptance.
We must do the same here, because it is the only option. Not obsessing over who inflicted more suffering on whom, nor trying to reach an agreement that will guarantee either side more land or less water, as if we don’t live on the same land and drink the same water.
Nor should we draw lines demarcating where they can sit on a weekday, on which hills they can plant olive trees and we fig trees, when we or they can travel, or when and where they can go to the shore, and to which beaches.
That’s all nonsense. It’s all the same land, the same earth, the same trees and the same fruit. And the same roads, the same hills, the same sea.
It is all inseparable, just as we are inseparable, and the location and the color of the borders don’t matter one fig.
Anyone who cannot look straight ahead, who always look backward instead – again, ask God – turns into a pillar of salt. His future will be the same as the past that he pines for – a dark future of endless death and killing.