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Encounters Visit to Palestine and Israel Blog No 5 : Preparing to go forth with vision

Following our deepest intentions for change

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Encounters associate Ben Yeger is in Palestine and Israel for nine weeks as part of a year long series of visits to deliver bi-national Peace and Reconciliation workshops with fellow members of Combatants for Peace (CfP). 

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When the notion of a Utopian vision is proposed there are many different responses.

“WOW that is wonderful: How do we sign up?”
Followed by: “Who is going to lead?”
Followed by: “Is it really doable?”

And then doubt kicks in, a fear of failure and then many different reasons to not follow our dreams, our deepest intentions for a change. As I see it, Utopian visions are not time bound and the only things standing in our way to manifest these visions are the limitations we place on our own imagination.

I choose to preface this blog with this thought because I have just come back from co-facilitating a weekend workshop with Sixy- Five  fellow Combatants for Peace members (equally divided between Palestinians and Israelis). What is striking is how our vision of manifesting a sustainable, just and secure solution to the middle east conflict is nothing short of visionary! We are insisting on working collaboratively across historical divides, a lot of blood shed, societal mistrust and corrupt political leaders.  We are using non-violence as our guiding principle, the majority of the activists are giving their time on a voluntary basis and in the last 12 months we have carried out some sort of direct action to end the Israeli Occupation every three days- that is extraordinary.


The Gathering

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This weekend was the third large-scale workshop that I have been involved in facilitating in the last year and  I feel that the journey this community has taken over this period is amazing. So we gathered. We said thank you for the fact that we had got thus far, appreciating along the way all those who have supported us in this journey. We then delved deep into our stories of being part of a cycle of violence that we had all been born into, the stories of separation and alienation. We allowed for the pain that this brings to be present, We then shared with each-other how we had made choices to seek another path, a path of interconnection and non violence – of reconciliation and Peace.  Over the year we have realised the importance of re- telling this story again and again to ourselves and externally, to share the inspiration in the journey from violence to non violence

Utopian Vision

On the second day we were offered the possibility of a new story for the future by two extra ordinary men who are proposing a vision: “One land for two people.”  They are Meron Rappaport   from Tel Aviv and Awani Mishni from Bethlehem. Their very impressive paper on this is yet to be translated into English but in essence it is promoting the idea that the only viable and sustainable solution at this moment in time is to stop the separation between the two people and find ways to meet the needs of everyone through collaborative work and to work with and through the fears that this vision brings up (and it does – on both sides). This session gave us an opportunity to really dream, to see with new eyes and to connect to the possibility of being real pioneers into the core of our work- again and again and again.

Going Forth

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The spiral of the Work that Reconnects was the backbone to shaping the weekend and for the concluding Going Forth work of the weekend. (Thank you Joanna Macy for this extra ordinary body of work!)  our five regional bi-national groups met and made a six month action plan.

Living with uncertainty and yet daring to vision and plan is our ‘Going Forth’.

In between all this we ate, laughed, sang and deepened our connections

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I want to thank all my teachers and all the support I have received during my visit here. I mainly want to thank all my fellow Artivists (Art/Activism) for your extraordinary courage and staying power. What we do and what happened during the weekend is NOT to be taken for granted- it is a radical act towards a Utopian vision!!

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