Yoga for peace
Filmmakers for peace
Sumo wrestlers for peace
Surfers for peace
Mountain climbers for peace
Runners, bikers, tennis players--for peace
Jeeps for peace
Quilts for peace
Plays for peace
Songs for peace
Diets for peace
Is there any word more degraded than the word peace?
Peace seems to be leaking all of its meaning, a catch word for getting money from the European Union (it seems that any co-existence group is ensured funding). The peacemakers seem to think if you bring Israelis and Palestinians together in the same room, then there will be peace. And the world apparently buys this idea. Oprah is going to run an article on a group of Israel and Palestinian women in a diet club.
I am reminded of Peter, a man I met in East Hampton, New York who harangued me when he learned I was from Israel. "You people have to be in dialogue with the Palestinians. It's your fault that you don't have peace." When I asked him about himself, he admitted that he was living with a friend because his wife had kicked him out of the house.
Peace is not achieved by proximity, by bringing people together to surf or talk or make movies. It isn't the joining of communities but the healing of individuals. My husband and I created an organization in memory of my son Koby who was viciously murdered by Palestinian terrorists when he was just 13. The Koby Mandell Foundation runs summer and holiday camps for 500 bereaved children whose loved ones were murdered by terrorists.
I am often asked if we bring Palestinian victims as well. My response is incredulity. Our goal is to help children heal. Trauma experts like Dr. Alison Salloum of the University of South Florida report that after a trauma, a child needs a place with the presence of a supportive adult, who shares a positive hope filled perspective and provides the presence of routine and comfort, so that the child can begin to process the pain and find healthy expression of his grief and trauma. That is the structure our camp provides.
In Hebrew the word 'peace', shalom, is related to the word for wholeness, shalem. A person becomes whole inside of himself, and his family, and then he is willing and able to go outside of himself, to make peace with others. But if he never feels that wholeness within himself, well then there can be no peace. Just bringing people together will never mend the holes. There's no gimmick, no quick fix that can achieve that.
Yet people want to believe that if we Israelis only opened our arms a little wider, paraded down the street arms linked with Palestinians, we would have peace.
Co-existence and dialogue do not create peace; peace is achieved when a person finds a way to transform pain into creativity, self-growth, and life- affirming transcendence. The goal of all of those peace loving folks who flock here should be to promote Palestinian efforts at healing their own community from the hatred and martyrdom that is too often honored in that society.
Israel has been educating its people for peace since before Oslo. Only when the Palestinians begin doing the same - for example running summer camps aimed at healing the pain they have experienced - rather than the ones they operate now, (guerilla training for children), will there be a chance for peace.
The Koby Mandell Foundation would be happy to advise them on how to set up their own healing initiatives.