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A cup of tea with Mohammad

merk4p —  October 26, 2014 — Leave a comment

by Mohammad Joulany, K4P Jerusalem Co-Director

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Having a cup of tea on my veranda is the best after a long workday especially when the shades are closed. As I sip my tea, I do not want to look at the road that the Jerusalem municipality built by confiscating land from my village to serve the nearby settlement, Rekhes Shufat. It is a tough reality especially when I compare any of the nearby roads with those poorly maintained ones in my village. The municipality collects housing tax “Arnona” yet until today they did not fix the traffic lights in my neighborhood that angry youth destroyed three months ago following the burning of Mohammad AbuKhdeir alive by Israeli settlers.

Living in Jerusalem is getting tougher day after day. It is hard to predict what will happen next. I no longer hang out at the Western part of the city and my wife’s driving route is work and home. “Settlers are everywhere and I do not want my son to be the next victim,” she says. The daily storming of Al Aqsa mosque by settlers is adding salt to the injury. I have not been able to reach it for the past month or so because of the police policy of barring males under the age of fifty to enter the mosque on Fridays. My right to practice my belief is on hold while settlers are gaining more and more presence in Jerusalem by buying and confiscating lands and houses in and around especially in Silwan.

Last Wednesday was no exception, this time it is a Palestinian youth from Silwan running over a number of Israelis resulting in the killing of the three months baby Chaya Zissel and the injury of many others. The horrible events I mentioned and many others prove repeatedly that the cycle of violence will never stop unless we ourselves work on ending incitement. Incitement happens mainly at educational institutes and media against a certain ethnicity, religion, nation, color, etc.

As the co-director of Kids4Peace movement in Jerusalem, I have the honor to meet Palestinian and Israeli families who meet on a regular basis in order to inspire hope and work together toward ending the current situation and tension. It is difficult to stay optimistic in Jerusalem yet kids4Peace makes it possible. Understanding the other is an important step towards finding a peaceful solution for the conflict. Jerusalem is a dear city to all of us and it should remain open to all religions and nationalities; the chosen people by God are the kindest and most considerate.

Last Thursday was a very powerful evening as eighty Kids4Peace families came together. We gathered with the belief that we can make a difference and we will. We are a growing community that want to see the other as a friend and colleague rather than as an enemy. It takes a lot of effort and courage to make a leap for the sake of our beloved city. The question is if we really will be able to change the situation. In my opinion, there is a growing community in Jerusalem tired of hate speech despite the many powerful factors that are dictating the situation. We continue to fail to achieve peace in Jerusalem because we continue to use the same language of “them” instead of using that of “us”. We will continue to fail as long as we do not recognize the right of everyone to live peacefully in dignity and respect. As a community, we are truly dedicated to change the status quo. We are, in my opinion, a non-violent resistance movement that is not against the States rather against incitement from any side. We do not have to change our belief system in order to succeed; we have to start learning how to celebrate our differences. I want to end with a verse from the noble Quran that sums it all:

 “O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into races and tribes, so that you may identify one another. Surely the noblest of you, in Allah‘s sight, is the one who is most pious of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (49:13)

by Mohammad Joulany, Co-Director K4P Jerusalem

We arrived to Camp Allen in Houston after about 30 hours of travel. Traveling is a very tiring yet enjoyable and educational experience. For many of our youth, it is the first time to leave Jerusalem. We were accepted very nicely with open hands as we arrived to Camp Allen by our American friends and peace pals, had dinner together, and then headed to rest after a long day of travel.

We woke up to the amazing nature and the fresh breeze energetic and curious about the day. Breakfast was served with its great variety of healthy choices. We gathers for the opening of the day ceremony where three kids from the three different religions lighted a candle that represents our togetherness and chose the words of the day, which were friendly, need, and hope. Then everyone headed to the beautiful lake at camp and tried their luck in fishing. It was very exciting especially that it is the first time for most of our youth to hold a fishing rod.

As the Friday prayer approached, our Muslim peace pal from the States, Shayan, led the prayer with a beautiful recitation of a number of Quran verses. He recited Sūrat al-Qadr (Power, Fate) which talk about the revelation of Quran in a special night during Ramadan. It was a very special moment where everyone listened respectfully to the story behind this chapter. After prayer ended, we listened to Tamika, camp director, and Malika, Muslim adviser, who shared with us the different levels in which they practice religion at a private level and at an inclusive level of their community and the rest of the globe.

As dinner approached, everyone gathered around the table to welcome Shabat with a prayer from our Jewish youth. Grape juice, bread, and the lighting of candles was how we welcomed Shabat together before dinner.

We started Saturday with a morning prayer from the three faiths followed with singing Kids4Peace song (Salam Shalom). After breakfast we gathered for the opening of the day where our youth again chose three new words for the day. We welcomed together Rabbi Gross who creatively introduced the idea of revelation. Everyone was engaged in thinking together about the creator and our relation to God and to one another. Rabbi Gross talked about revelation by narrating the story of Moses meeting God. A very powerful story that we all share in our different faiths traditions. The almost two hours session went very fast as everyone was excited and amazed by the great values that our faiths hold.

Kids afterwards headed to the Campsite for more and more exciting activities and games after an inspiring morning. We look forward for tomorrow to learn about the practices of our Christian friends and to participate in more and more fun activities. Stay tuned!

 

Check out Houston Camp Photos

Staff Training – 10th April

 

Here at Kids4Peace Jerusalem we are constantly working on growing and strengthening our community. If we wish to inspire the youth of this region to grow together and challenge the polarized narrative trends then first we must challenge ourselves.

On the 10th of April staff from K4P Jerusalem participated in a two part training session. First we were taken on a tour ofSheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, 2 kilometres north of the Old City, on the road to Mount Scopus. Led by co director Mohammad Joulany. The area has a rich and fractured history and as a community of people with diverse and complex truth we worked our way through the history and the narratives both past and present and arrived at a space of greater understanding and appreciation for the base from which we work as an organisation.

The second part of the training took many if not all out of their comfort zone. Slam Poetry. We were treated to the skill and precision of an American Jewish poet and activist Mourie whose Arabic was on point to the joy of participants. The staff were to write their worst poem, then to write a poem with contradictions and unfamiliar pairings. To read out, to perform, to be vulnerable. The closing of the workshop had staff pair off and look into each other’s eyes, direct communication was forbidden as Mourie led us through the minutes with contemplative questions and extreme humanity.

Kids4Peace Jerusalem hopes to continue to challenge and empower our staff through similar trainings in order to grow and strengthen our community. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Image