THE FOLLOWING PIECE WAS WRITTEN FOR MY FACEBOOK WALL JUST AFTER THE END OF OPERATION CAST LEAD, THE IDF INCURSION INTO THE GAZA STRIP THAT WAS INTENDED TO STOP THE DAILY FIRING OF MISSILES INTO SOUTHERN ISRAEL.
I hope the first few days of 2009 find you all well.I’m sure we are all concerned about recent events. The cycle of revenge, retribution and brutality goes on. Fueled by anger, loss, oppression and the dark machinations of global political agendas, the conflict appears to have no end. It’s no wonder that people feel helpless and fearful for the future.That’s why I want to share this story with you.
On Christmas Eve last year, I was invited to an event at the house of a rabbi who leads a large North London synagogue. It was essentially a hannukah celebration, but what made it unique was the presence of a group from Israel and Palestine. They were members of The Parents Circle-Families Forum,a support group for people who’ve lost loved ones as a result of the on going conflict. Mother, father, brother, sisters,cousins…from both sides of the divide who have decided that the vicious circle of violence has to end somehow, and the only way that it can do that is to embrace the spirit of reconciliation, and the healing forgiveness that comes from that. They are doing this while the conflict is still happening, a move that is courageous in itself.
Bat Chen Shahak was 15 years old when she was killed by a suicide bomber in 1994. Her mother,Ayelet, read some extracts from her daughters diary where the young girl wrote movingly about peace, asking if it could ever be real. Ali and Khaled Awad lost their brother, Yousef, when he was shot by an Israeli soldier after an argument broke out at a checkpoint. I can’t begin to tell you how it made me feel to see these people, who had clearly been though so much, not just because they had lost loved ones but because they live with fear, hatred and the constant “eye for an eye’ mentality that appears to pervade the Middle East, and yet, in the midst of all that, they made their stand for peace. I asked myself, if I’d been through that, could i do the same?
Something that Ali said taught me about hope, and the future for peace. He said that if you in the middle of a very dark, very long tunnel, and you light a candle, what do you expect to happen? Do you expect that the light of the small candle will drive away all the darkness? If that’s what you think, you’re in for a shock! the tunnel is very dark and your is the only light in it. So, don’t think that your candle can erase the darkness.What the candle CAN do though, is illuminate your path out of the dark tunnel and into the daylight. The light can show you the way.
Sitting there, surrounded by Jews,Muslims and Christians who had all come to hear these people speak, I realised that each of us, if we so choose, can be a light IN the tunnel, not just at the end of it. God (whoever She is! ) knows the world needs all those millions of tiny candles to shine right now.
If you want to know more about the Parent’s Circle their web site is :
Thanks for reading,