Month: February 2010

  • No More Taking Sides: An Israeli-Palestinian Story

    No more taking sides

    Listen to a powerful interview on Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith program.  In this show, she features Robi Damelin, who lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper, and Ali Abu Awwad, who lost his older brother Yousef to an Israeli soldier. But, instead of clinging to traditional ideologies and turning their pain into more violence, they’ve decided to understand the other side — Israeli and Palestinian — by sharing their pain and their humanity. They tell of a gathering network of survivors who share their grief, their stories of loved ones, and their ideas for lasting peace.

    Listen to the full interview and check out other resources here: No More Taking Sides

  • Popular TV show highlights Iran’s complexity

    Shahab Husseini stars in 'Zero Degree Turn.'

    Every Monday night, Iranians by the millions watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic’s state-owned television – and the subject would surprise you.

    The hour-long state-funded Iranian drama   “Zero Degree Turn,” centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian Jews to their homeland.

    The aim of the show, according to many inside and outside the country, is to draw a clear distinction between the government’s views about Judaism — which is accepted across Iranian society — and its stance on Israel — which the leadership denounces every chance it gets.

    In creating the show, the director enlisted the help of Iran’s Jewish Association, …

  • A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing

    A Mideast Bond, Stitched of Pain and Healing
    By Ethan Bronner

    marya and orel

    JERUSALEM — He can be impulsive. She has a touch of bossiness. Next-door neighbors for nearly a year, they talk, watch television and explore the world together, wandering into each other’s homes without a second thought. She likes his mother’s eggplant dish. He likes her father’s rice and lamb.

    Marya, a Palestinian, and Orel, an Israeli, are 8-year-old neighbors at Jerusalem’s Alyn Hospital.

    Friendship often starts with proximity, but Orel and Marya, both 8, have been thrust together in a way few elsewhere have. Their playground is a hospital corridor. He is an Israeli Jew severely wounded by a Hamas rocket. She is a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza paralyzed by an Israeli missile. Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies.

    “He’s a naughty boy,” Marya likes to say of Orel with an appreciative smile when he gets


    This expresses some of my feelings since returning from Syria. More poems by Huda can be found here.

    The Peacemakers

    by Huda Orfali

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Dedicated to His Holiness Pope John Paul II and the Grand mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Hasoun

    The Peacemakers

    Collaboration by Peter Paton and Huda Orfali

    As the religious divide grows

    In the troubled world

    They call for dialogue and harmony

    In a country where prayers are heard

    From two divine neighbors

    The church and the mosque

    They echo one another

    In one call for love

    In the world of Islam

    He is a shining light

    Who teaches tolerance

    And unconditional love for all

    A spiritual leader

    Of great virtue and purity

    Who extols and promotes

    The Brotherhood of Man

    A magnificent orator

    Whose words celebrate the truth

    Healing all the divisions

    That separate faiths and beliefs

    A tireless and blessed worker

  • For one Palestinian Citizen of Israel, peace begins within

    Meet our friend, Hanan, a fabulous new peacemaker, a cool mother,  a deeply progressive and courageous Muslim woman, one of a legion that we are discovering around the world. This is the hope of the Middle East.


    For one Israeli Arab woman, peace begins within
    By Karin Kloosterman


    Real peacemakers are often the quiet ones, like Hanan Gaffaly – who works at the NGO Kids Creating Peace and volunteers for Sulhita, an NGO that brings together Palestinian and Israeli youth. Thousands of peacemakers like Gaffaly are not high profile activists like Ghandi and Martin Luther King were. They work from deep within, starting with themselves and their communities, and move on to take small, bold steps to influence the ‘big picture.’

    ISRAEL21c first met Gaffaly, a 34-year-old Israeli Arab woman from the city of Jaffa near Tel Aviv, while at a San Francisco-based United Religions Initiative conference. At the annual

  • Challenging Prejudice Creatively


    Melih Kesmen created his company StyleIslam as an unconventional antidote to prejudice.  This German designer of Turkish background made his first t-shirt, bearing the slogan “I love my Prophet,” during the cartoon controversy in Europe.  He received a lot of positive feedback from Muslims and non-Muslims, which then motivated him to create a fashion label for street wear with Islamic slogans. Reconciling the two cultures he grew up with, Turkish-Islamic and German street art, his label has become very popular.  He says:

    “We communicate Islam in a language young people can understand, without sacrificing our values in the process. Our customers can go out in public with StyleIslam messages across their chests and they often find the opportunity to speak with curious passersby about the designs. And since communication is the best antidote to prejudice, I really think that StyleIslam offers something which helps build bridges.”

    Explore the various designs …