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Posts Tagged ‘palestinian’

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Photos: AFP/THOMAS COEX
Renovated mosaics and columns inside the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank biblical city of Bethlehem.

Do you like mosaics? I relate to arts such as mosaics or collage because I love putting pieces of things together to make something new. As quilters do. And editors. And activists who change the world one by one.

This is a story from Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, where restoration work has tapped the artistry of workers who can envision how small pieces together make a whole.

Clothilde Mraffko writes at Yahoo News, “Masked for centuries by the soot of candles and lately by scaffolding, the mosaics of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity have been restored. …

“Over the past 15 months, experts have cleaned and repaired surviving fragments of the 12th century masterworks, preserving 1,345 square feet (125 square metres) of what was once 21,528 square feet (2,000 square metres) of glittering gold and glass. The rest has been eaten away by wear, humidity, wars and earthquakes.

“Now the restored remains shine against the white walls above the heads of visitors to the church in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem that marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

“Overlooking the nave are seven angels framed in gold who appear to have landed on a carpet of vivid green grass. …

” ‘These mosaics are made of gold leaf placed between two glass plates,’ Marcello Piacenti, who supervises the work on behalf of his Italian family restoration firm Piacenti, told AFP [Agence France-Presse]. ‘Only faces and limbs are drawn with small pieces of stone.’

“One of the partially destroyed angel figures was restored using different materials to the original so as not to mislead future archaeologists. [!]

“Ibrahim Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian Authority (PA) engineer said the transformation caused by the restoration is striking. ‘When you entered the church before, you could not even make out that there were mosaics, it was so black,’ he said.

“In a rarity for the period, the works were signed by the craftsmen responsible, Abed Rabbo said. …

“Father Asbed Balian is the senior cleric of the Armenian church at the basilica, where property rights are shared with the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox faiths. After seeing the completed restoration, he said, he was ‘stunned. … Spiritually, we feel more exalted.’ …

“When the Palestinian Authority began renovations in 2013, ‘the basilica was in danger,’ PA restoration consultant Afif Tweme said. …

” ‘It’s very special, because of the location,’ said Piacenti. ‘Sometimes I have to force them (workers) to leave’ at the end of the day.” More here.

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Today I wanted to share several links on the power of getting to know those with views that are opposed to yours. It’s not something I’m especially good at, but I’m sure there are few things more important.

ArtsJournal posted a New York Magazine/”Science of Us” link about “the contact hypothesis” recently.

Jesse Singal wrote, “In the last few months I’ve found a bit of solace and much-needed solidity in a social-psychological idea that has been developed for the better part of the last century: the contact hypothesis.

“It’s the simple, inspiring idea that when members of different groups — even groups that historically dislike one another — interact in meaningful ways, trust and compassion bloom naturally as a result, and prejudice falls by the wayside.

“The contact hypothesis, or contact theory as it’s sometimes known, is a really powerful, promising idea for a country like the United States — one that is big and diverse and whose national conversation on a host of subjects ranging from poverty to crime is veined through with implicit and explicit racism. …

“[For example,] if you could get more non-Muslims to interact with Muslims, whether as neighbors or business partners or in a host of other contexts, [the percentage of those with bias] would likely drop. And while this idea sounds idealistic, there’s solid evidence behind it — significantly more than there is behind other ideas, like corporate diversity trainings for reducing prejudice that focus more on information and awareness than personal relationships. …

“As I read about [the work of LindaTropp, a social psychologist and contact-theory expert at the University of Massachusetts Amherst] and spoke with Tropp, I kept thinking about the airport protests [this year].

“Suffice it to say that many of the protesters were simply there because they thought it was the right thing to do, because they were motivated by politics or religion or their social networks or whatever else. But think about how much more potent that drive is when you know and value and worry about people who could be personally affected: Think about the difference between I am protesting this policy because it is wrong and I am protesting this policy because it is wrong and could hurt people I care about.

“That’s the ultimate promise of the contact hypothesis: You don’t need fancy educating or lecturing or anything else to get people to treat one another better. To a certain extent, you just need to get them to interact on the same level, and progress will follow.”

Two favorite examples of the power of human contact: Parents Circle, in which Israelis and Palestinians who’ve lost loved ones to the conflict come together, and Kids4Peace, summer camps for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian youth to get to know one another.

Also note this Guardian story about a descendant of General Custer reaching out to the Dakota Access Pipeline tribes!

Photo: David Valdez 
Alisha Custer – whose lineage traces back to the US army commander who led the 19th century wars against Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors – meets with Standing Rock members.

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Photo: Boston Globe
Al Filipov died on Sept. 11. He was on the plane from Boston.

After September 11, 2001, good works sprouted around the country, launched by people from all walks of life who were determined that goodness should have the last say.  The Huffington Post collected a bunch of these initiatives for one anniversary of the tragedy, here, but you can find examples in nearly every community.

In Concord, Al Filipov, who was on one of the planes, is honored in several ways, including by the Filipov Peace and Justice Forum.

Al’s son, Boston Globe reporter David Filipov, once recalled his father as “engineer, inventor, sailor, deacon, coach, husband, dad, raconteur.” The Filipov forum website adds that he was a painter and a human rights activist, noting,

“He sought out the best in people and cared passionately about the world in its beauty and pain. He earnestly believed in the power of an individual to make a difference in the world.”

The 2016 Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum will take place on September 25 at the Trinity Congregational Church on Walden Street in Concord. Representatives from the Parents Circle-Families Forum are the featured guests. The Parents Circle is made up of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families that have come together to support “peace, reconciliation and tolerance.”

As one member says in the video below, people from different sides of a conflict need to get to know one another as individuals and share commonalities in order to let go of “being right” all the time instead of creating peace. Otherwise any future agreement is just a cease fire.

The presentation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Shared interests can bridge cultures. The Guardian‘s Jim Cable offers up a nice example in his report on “two plantsmen in Israel – one Jewish, the other Muslim – [and their] mission to save their region’s rare native species.”

He writes that Oron Peri, a Jewish garden designer who lives halfway between Haifa and Nazareth, has long partnered with Mansour Yassin, a Muslim, on landscape work. Now they are collaborating to share a large collection of Eastern Mediterranean native species with other plant enthusiasts. He says their affiliation is perfectly natural in the part of Israel where they live.

“Yassin adds, ‘We have the same ideas about relationships between Christians, Jews and Muslim people. We don’t hold to stereotypes about where you come from.’

“Peri realised the time had come to formalise the way he shared plants with other enthusiasts. So Seeds of Peace was born; a scheme where seed sales of garden-worthy bulbous plants support conservation of rare species. Yassin is gradually matching up botanic names with the Hebrew he naturally uses for plants he has known since playing in the mountains as a boy. …

“For Peri, the collection represents 20 years of travel and botanising, specialising in plants from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Indigenous populations have suffered due to tourism (particularly on the Greek islands and Cyprus) and illegal harvesting for the bulb market. Some plants are endangered in the wild, with no conservation scheme to protect them in their native country. They give these refugees, as Peri refers to them, a place to thrive and set seed.” Read about the work here.

Photo: Yadid Levy
Oron Peri, left, is Jewish and his Seeds of Peace partner, Mansour Yassin, is Muslim. Here they examine cyclamen in their beds in Kiryat Tiv’on.

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Margarida Santos Lopes has a hopeful story at the Christian Science Monitor about an Israeli rabbi and a Palestinain who are friends.

“Shaul David Judelman is an Israeli rabbi who moved from Seattle to Bat Ayin, a religious community in the occupied West Bank.

“Ziad Abed Sabateen is a Palestinian farmer who endured imprisonment during the first intifada against the Israelis more than 20 years ago and whose family was dispossessed of most of its land to accommodate Jewish settlers.

“The two men are good neighbors, friends, and business partners – not enemies.

“Mr. Judelman and Mr. Sabateen are committed to ‘peaceful coexistence’ between Israelis and Palestinians, whether they live together in one state or two separate states.

“The majority of those in both their camps may find it hard to understand the two men’s close relationship. But neither side repudiates them as traitors or collaborators. …

“On a mountaintop with a view of the Mediterranean Sea … Judelman and Sabateen plan to create the Heavens Field Farm, which will put ’emphasis on belonging to the land, not ownership of it,’ according to their joint manifesto.

“Their idea is to run an organic farm that will sell vegetables in local markets, support families in need, and attract volunteers and tourists. Among their partners are a joint Israeli Palestinian journal, called Maktub, and other nonpolitical groups such as Eretz Shalom (Land of Peace).”

Read more to understand how each came to their worldview through different paths.

Photo: Udi Goren
Shaul David Judelman (l.) and Ziad Abed Sabateen, in Bethlehem. They want to create an organic farm in the West Bank as a project for peace.

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When wars are not going on in the Palestinian territories, people try to live normal lives.

Megan Kelly writes at Global Envision that “in recent years, business development and entrepreneurship programs surfaced … and suddenly there was an influx of people trying to start their own business …

“However, many of the programs put in place lacked follow-through. Entrepreneurs were left to sink or swim on their own. ‘It was like walking them to a cliff,’ explains Samin Malik, coordinator of Women’s Empowerment Programs at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization based in Nablus. So TYO took a different approach …

“TYO’s Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE) brought back six businesses that had developed a foundation from their initial women’s entrepreneurship program—Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus—and recruited nine additional female entrepreneurs by running advertisements in local newspapers, radio, and on Facebook. The requirements were simple—businesses had to have a foundation or business plan already completed, and had to be based in the northern West Bank.

“Candidates who responded to ads underwent two rounds of interviews, designed not only to determine the entrepreneur’s eligibility for the program, but also to assess her strengths and needs moving forward. Partnering with the Small Enterprise Center, TYO sent their final 15 candidates to one-on-one coaching early in the process in order to set their women up for targeted support and success. Additionally, the year-long incubation project will provide marketing, access to capital, and financial-growth trainings, as well as business English and social-media training facilitated by last year’s Palestinian TechWomen delegation. …

“By serving as a support system to the businesswomen, Samin and Inas Badawi—a local Palestinian—provide examples of female-to-female support that is uncommon in Nablus, and try to foster the same sense of encouragement between the women they work with.”

More.

Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters/File
Palestinian women sit together at a newly opened upscale Italian cafe in the West Bank city of Ramallah in July 2012. Tomorrow’s Youth Organization serves as a support system to Palestinian businesswomen, encouraging new enterprises.

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