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Encounters Visit to Palestine and Israel Blog No 6

Completing a journey...

Friday, December 20, 2013

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During the autumn months Encounters Associate Ben Yeger has been in Israel and Palestine for the third and final visit of a year long programme of work. He has been working with Combatants for Peace (CfP)  members in the region, running personal story telling and organisational change workshops with groups including ex-combatants on both sides, working together non-violently to end to the Israeli occupation. Just returned from this powerful journey, he reflects on his time away…

Two years ago I dreamt up the idea that I would travel to Palestine/Israel three times over a 12 month period. I would go with the intention of finding a way to explore and support the inner maps within the complex paradigm of Combatants for Peace (CfP) and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I was convinced that this particular work was needed. I also knew that it wouldn’t be simple…

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I was right – it hasn’t been simple and it HAS been a deeply humbling and heartening journey. And of course it is just a chapter in a much bigger story. A step in the right direction. I feel really honoured to have given what I have been able, to this process, during, in the last twelve months.

How to sum up all the emotions I feel right now as I write, back in my family home in the UK? How do I reflect on what I and we have achieved together? I don’t really know how to answer these questions. I know that I have gone through an emotional roller-coaster which has involved me believing that its all my responsibility and I alone have the recipe for change. Through the realisation that the map and field is a complex one. Then understanding that I am best in service when I can be clear about my particular offer, and role.

So in this last visit I came with the clarity of exploring and going deep into personal stories of transformation. This was done through workshops and through every day encounters with people in Palestine and Israel.  This guiding perimeter, this compass gave me the clues, the guidance for the whole process.

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These three words are what it is all about for me: Personal/Story/Transformation. We can only start with ourselves, with our personal perspective, with where we are. We all have a story. In the context of Israel/Palestine these stories are intrinsically linked to the story of the conflict (one way or another). As such we can all make a choice in transforming our/the story- we can participate in telling a new story to live by. If we choose to, then it is within our power to do so.

I found myself at every step of this journey facilitating and undergoing a process of expanding through 5 dimensions in relation to conflict in general:

1. In relation to my inner maps/feelings/experiences
2. In relation to those who are close to me (my partner, children, brothers and sister and parents)
3. In relation to the communities I come into contact with including including the environment and the communities within the natural world
4. In relation to my past and my ancestors
5. In relation to the great mystery and all that is unknown.

These five dimensions enabled me to broaden my perspective at all stages along the way. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, of course.

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What has shifted/evolved for CfP in the last 12 months?

1. CfP and its members have a stronger sense of the need to explore and support the inner realm of our work, so as to build the resilience and sustainability within the individuals and the collective, in order to bring about the change they want to see in the world.

2. CfP is going through an organisational change process which has come about (partly) as a result of the project I have been leading on. In the draft documents for the organisation there is a role for an inner process lead which has emerged as a result of the work this year.

3. The personal story training has ignited a stronger sense of how to use this tool as an activist and transformational tool within the movement.

These were the three main aims I set out to achieve at the start of the journey and whilst there is a lot of work still to do (and I look forward to continuing) I feel that I have done my bit – and that brings a smile to my face and a warmth in my heart. Just the tonic for the wet and dark days of December.

Happy festivities to you all and see you in the new year.

Yours in service, Ben

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