Some events were planned for the week that marked International Peace Day (the reasons behind the date and more details can be found here). This post will focus on three events, in the north, in Jerusalem and in Tel-Aviv-Yaffo. Most of the photos attached to the post, particularly the professional looking ones, were taken by the talented Gal Mosenson.

The International Peace Day event in the north included 15 organizations centered on advancing peace

The genesis of this event was two and a half months ago when Suheil Diab came up with the idea to hold an event to celebrate International Peace Day and Mor Sela happily joined him, and they initiated and promoted the event together with 15 organizations who share an interest in promoting peace. Their chosen venue was Kibbutz Hanaton in the north, and it took place in the open. The program included short lectures, discussions in conversation circles, a musical performance and activities for children. The 15 organizations that took part were: the Israeli Peace NGO Forum, the Joint Democratic Initiative, Reacha Kamocha (your neighbor as yourself), The Parents Circle-Families Forum, Kafr Manda, Women Wage Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Galilee For All, Alternative-Edc, Israelis & Palestinians for Peace, Neighbors at Peace, Peace Now, Combatants for Peace, Sipur Hikaya and A Land for All. Other organizations were invited as well as the general public. Approximately 300 people showed up and the idea is now to continue to grow and establish similar get-together on a bi-monthly basis. Arab media covered the event. At the opening, Mor Sela and Suheil Diab, the event masterminds, said they were mainly excited about the journey that led to the event. Rabbi Zvi Berger spoke for Hanaton. The musical performance featured Diane Kaplan and Meera Eilabouni and afterwards there were speeches by Elias Zananiri and Salman el Herfi – representing and heading the Palestinian Authority delegation, Prof. Gershon Baskin, Thabet Abu Rass – co executive director of the Abraham Initiatives and Rabbi Ruthi Beditz from the organization of Rabbis for human rights. The ‘Standing Together’ youth band played and sang. The last part of the event included peace themed children’s activities; peace themed conversation circles led by representatives of the different organizations, for example, a conversation circle with Palestinian representatives, discussions about how to promote a discourse of peace, a conversation circle on peace narratives, listening circles and more. The photos from the event speak for themselves (for more event photos by photographer Gal Mosenson please see here)

Suheil Diab and Mor Sela led the event and were happy to say that they were satisfied with it and looking forward to more meetings and were especially interested in promoting the subject of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and bringing it to the public forefront. Mor spoke about the organization that he started recently (during the COVID lockdowns) called ‘Israelis and Palestinians for Peace’ which is unique in that it’s completely virtual and takes place in cyberspace. Mor also runs a 3-month old Facebook group of about 3300 people. The organization members meet regularly on a weekly basis on Zoom. Palestinians, Israelis and anyone interested from anywhere around the world can join these meetings. The aim is to bring people together and discuss how to advance peace and negotiations. Guest speakers are booked for these discussions. Under consideration is holding more activities to advance peace so as to influence Israeli and global public opinion.

Women Wage Peace’s event in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem event was a march called 4 million Israeli and Palestinian mothers crying out for a life of peace, security or hope. Thousands of women marched in Jerusalem on International Peace Day demanding to advance a political agreement with the Palestinians. The women and all who marched created a human chain in front of the Old City walls. They held a ceremony with women talking about mothers’ power to change reality and lead us all to a different and better existence for everyone’s children. Sahara Hamdan was one of the speakers said to have shaken the hearts of the listeners.
Mothers, women, Israeli and Palestinian partners called for change for a shared future. They demanded that the leaders of both sides do everything possible in order to solve the conflict through a political agreement. The messages arising from the event were, “without hope, the cycle of violence expands, and the sense of security recedes. Without a political agreement, short-term military solutions are an option, and all of us, innocent children, women and men will pay a heavy, unnecessary price in both body and soul.” The recorded event can be seen here. Also, Pe’er-Lee Shahar’s interview with some event participants during her weekly filmed podcast can be found here. A collection of pictures from the event relays its power.

The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, DREA.ME and other partners held an event in Tel-Aviv-Yaffo

The event that was special and heartening and took place in English, Hebrew and Arabic and consisted of discussions, guided meditation, music and art. They spoke of the immense importance of regional peace and a sustainable global future. The peace Sukkah was built from recycled materials. More information about this event can be found here and here. A picture from the peace Sukkah.

I hope that my coverage of the events has helped, even if only a little, to add more firewood to the conversational bonfire on this topic…