Andere willkommen heissen, reich werden

Von Andrew Luisi & Chagit Lyssy

Andere willkommen heissen ist an und für sich schon eine schwierige Aufgabe, doch Miki Joelson glaubt, dass dies essenziell ist, um Beziehungen zu fördern und starke Bindungen zwischen Palästinensern und Israelis zu erzeugen. Miki arbeitete zwei Jahre lang als Leiterin des Programms “Faith to Faith/Face to Face“ (auf Deutsch: “Glaube gegenüber Glaube/Gesicht gegenüber Gesicht“), ein Partnerprojekt des Auburn Seminars in New York mit dem ICCI, und ist jetzt ein aktives Mitglied des ICCI Ehemaligen-Vereins für jüdische und palästinensische Jugendliche und junge Erwachsene für friedliche Koexistenz. Als jemand, die als Koordinatorin von Programmen und Events zur Förderung inter-religiöser Zusammenarbeit und Bewusstsein gearbeitet hat, vertrat sie den ICCI an der neunten Generalversammlung der Religionen für den Frieden in Wien, wo sie über ihre Arbeit mit ICCI zur Förderung von Einschliesslichkeit und dem Streben nach Koexistenz sprach.

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“The Many Faces of Jerusalem” Photography Contest

Photography Contest

Welcoming the Other, Becoming Rich

By Andrew Luisi

Personally welcoming the other is a difficult task in and of itself; however, Miki Joelson believes it to be essential in order to foster relationships and create strong bonds amAndrew Head Shot, Staffong Jews and Palestinians. Miki worked for two years as a facilitator with the “Face to Face”/”Faith-to-Faith” —a partnership of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York and ICCI—and she now is an active participant in ICCI’s Alumni Community of Jewish and Palestinian Youth and Young Adults for Peaceful Coexistence.  As someone who has coordinated programs and events to inspire interfreligious collaboration and awareness, she has recently represented ICCI at the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace in Vienna, Austria in November 2013, where she spoke about her work with ICCI in promoting inclusivity and striving for coexistence between Palestinians and Jews.

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“If I want to love my neighbor, I need to know my neighbor”

By Rachael Sauceda
(as part of our Stories of Inspiration series)

Yehuda Lapian is a 26 year old student attending Hadassah College in Jerusalem and is halfway through his B.A. degree in Political Science. Unlike most of his colleagues, Yehuda has participated in an ICCI program and has come to have a better understanding of “the other.”  Yehuda, who is Jewish, was born in America, but at the age of one moved to Israel and has lived in Jerusalem ever since. Growing up in a pluralistic household, his parents always taught him to “live and let live,” and that you have to remember there is pain on “the other side.”  It was with this pluralistic view of the conflict that gave Yehuda the courage and curiosity to learn more about his neighbors.

There were many moments in his childhood and adolescent years that could have drastically changed Yehuda’s outlook of his neighbor, especially growing up during a time when suicide bombings and terrorist attacks were frequent occurrences in Jerusalem. Often times, the conflict in the region taught him that Palestinians were the enemy, but his pluralistic views at home kept him grounded. However, as a teen he witnessed the aftermath of a suicide bombing in a local restaurant. Like most people after such a catastrophic event, Yehuda lacked the ability to find meaning in the situation and immediately grappled with the thought that whoever committed this act must really have hated the local community. This moment was both confusing and challenging.

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My Story – In Between

by Elana Lubka

(as part of our Stories of Inspiration series)Abu_Ghosh-2

“Change is to talk,” Bushra, 22, stressed in our conversation. I smiled at this, for one of the first things I noticed about Bushra was how comfortable she was speaking both English and Hebrew. Bushra attributes her fluency in English and Hebrew to having been raised in Abu Ghosh, an Arab village in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem. Not a part of the West Bank, Abu Ghosh is known for its amiability with neighboring Jewish villages and often plays hosts to visiting Jewish groups who wish to sample some of their famous hummus. This constant exposure to Israeli and foreign Jews has enabled her to become more familiar with the “other” than other Palestinians living in East Jerusalem or the West Bank.
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From Tivon to “The Other”

by Rachael Sauceda

Tal Michaelis, 29, is a Jewish Israeli who works at Variety, a non-profit organization that supports and assists children with special needs in Israel. Born and raised in in Tivon, Tal did h40482_415499396650_327112936650_5174862_7005097_ner army service just outside of Jerusalem at an absorption center, and has lived in Jerusalem for the past four years.

Growing up, Tal had a generally liberal outlook and felt that Palestinians were being treated unjustly. However, her knowledge of “the other” was limited to what she gathered from the news or learned from her father. However, until participating in an ICCI program for young adults, Tal had never really met or talked with a Palestinian.

Out of curiosity and as a result of one of Tal’s friends past participation, Tal decided to participate in ICCI’s dialogue and action group. Tal merely wanted the opportunity to talk to Palestinians in order to know Palestinian perspectives of the conflict and what their realities are like. The program that she participated in through the ICCI dealt with collective memory in Israel, Palestine and Japan. Called “From Memory to Reconciliation,” this year-long program met every month for intensive workshops and seminars. Jewish, Palestinian and Japanese students came together to learn how the national or collective memory affects conflict, and as a result, how a nation can grow despite the downward pull of the conflict. Continue reading

Stories of Inspiration – A Woman’s Transformation from Ignorance to Understanding

ICCI’s newest project, Stories of Inspiration, will feature interviews with youth and young adults who are graduates of ICCI’ youth and young adult programs in recent years. We at ICCI hope that these stories inspire and motivate others to become involved in peace-building programs, whether through ICCI or in other relevant frameworks. We welcome your “comments” and your feedback to these interviews.

by Elana Lubka

I sat down with Rola, a 24 year old Palestinian woman from East Jerusalem, at a small coffee shop in East Jerusalem on a late afternoon. Sitting across from her, I could not help but notice the strong sense of confidence she exuded and, as the time elapsed, her open smile. Rola is a social worker in East Jerusalem, working specifically with abused women and impoverished families in East Jerusalem.

I began by asking Rola about her childhood and her initial encounter with “the other.” She explained to me that she grew up in a very secular Muslim household. Her summers were spent in Tel Aviv and Tiberias, where she was very aware that she and her family were Palestinians, surrounded by a Jewish majority. Rola continued by noting that although she and her family swam in the same Mediterranean Sea as the other Jewish beach-goers, she would only speak to them in the direst of situations. She noted, “You have [this] idea that they hate you, so [we] don’t talk to them.” This fear, based only on the fear from other Palestinians, was what guided her adolescent years.

Growing up, this mindset was heavily enforced in all aspects of her daily life. She recalls being told by a Palestinian friend that it was explicitly written in the Torah, the holy Jewish book, that Jews must hate Palestinians. This baffled Rola, for, “why would God be so hateful to us?” This prompted Rola to ask further questions about the Torah to better understand this strange ‘commandment.’ However, her school could not provide any answers to her questions about the Torah, which only contributed to its obscurity.

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