Breaking down the walls of fear

How refreshing to read Rabbi Mark Goldsmith’s article in Jewish News [29 October] headlined: ‘Now Israel and the Palestinians must value peace above victory’.

Considering the recent violence in Israel, it’s so easy to give way to despair of peace ever being achieved in Israel.

However, it is heartening to hear of individuals in Israel who find ways to build bridges. One such initiative is run by an organization called Abrahamic Reunion, which is creating harmony between Jews, Muslims, Christians and members of the Druze and Bedouin communities in Israel be working at a grassroots level.

In June we participated in a tour, extended from Jerusalem, including the West Bank, to Tzfat and Tel Aviv. We met and dined with peacemakers of all denominations.  Members of Abrahamic Reunion regularly share food together and join each other’s family events.

Our tour included a two-day conference at Tantur Ecumenical Institute with Priests, rabbis, sheiks and imams as well as female spiritual leaders. It really opened our eyes to the possibilities. For example, we met Muslins who are working for peace, something we previously believed to be contradiction in terms. The conference was led my Shahabuddin David Less, Eliyahu McLean and Sheik Ghassan Manasra, who were trained in the interfaith peace-making process by the late Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

To quote Eliyahu McLean: “We are breaking down the wall of fear in our minds and between our people; this is what will tear down the physical cement barriers.”

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recently said so inspiringly on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day: “What we need now is a new and broader Nostra Aetate, bringing together all the great faiths in a covenant of mutual respect and responsibility. We need leaders from every religion publicly to declare that much of what’s being done today in the name of faith is in fact a desecration of faith and a violation of its most sacred principles. It took the Holocaust to bring about Nostra Aetate. Let’s not wait for another crime against humanity and God bring us to our senses.

Michael and Amanda Kenton

And they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3