from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 23 June 2013

pro-Palestine, pro-Israel – and pro-peace

Rami is an Israeli; an articulate, loving man whose 14-year-old daughter was killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up alongside a group of teenage girls. Bassam is an intensely passionate Palestinian; also a devoted father. His 10-year-old daughter was killed by a soldier in the Israeli Defence Force.

How one survives the loss of a child is unimaginable to me. Of course these men's lives as they knew them were destroyed, in one way, forever. Both of them have good reason to hate the other and all they stand for.

Instead, they've dedicated their lives to speaking up for peace; Rami by going into Israeli schools and speaking of the urgent necessity of learning to walk in another's shoes and to replace hate with empathy; Bassam by speaking to friends in Palestine who consider themselves to be freedom fighters and terrorists. Bassam has recently come to England to study for a Masters in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at Bradford. They are members of a group called Combatants for Peace, consisting in the main of ex-fighters on both sides of the conflict who have come together to heal the divide in a different and inspiring way, but also of laypeople who know that the way forward cannot come about through violence.

These two extraordinary advocates for peace are the central subjects of a very moving documentary where we follow their deeply loving engagement with each other in the cause of solidarity and unity. Last night the film-maker, Shelley Hermon, and an Israeli man who is touring with the film (usually they're accompanied by at least one Palestinian, too) spoke to us, after the showing of 'within the eye of the storm', of the message and its importance.

The central message, articulated by Rami in the film, is 'There can be no security for Israel without freedom for Palestinians, and there can be no freedom for Palestinians without security for Israel.' We cannot simply be pro-Israeli or even pro-Palestinian; what we need to be is pro-peace, they argue. While everyone agrees that the Occupation has to end, all parties involved in CFP are convinced that the only way through is through dialogue and transforming our attitudes to those who are Other, different.

CFP is doing its best to spread the message and the film ( (They also need donations, and are completely transparent about how the money is spent.) If you feel you could offer to host, organise or suggest a venue where the film might be shown, buy a copy of the DVD or get in touch with Shelley[at]firefly-pictures[dot]com.


Rami's wife, an academic, gave a memorable speech in Tel Aviv on the 45th anniversary of the 1967 war. This is a small excerpt, found here:

'The time has come when we must join our neighbours all over the Middle East, to sing the praises of the true rebellion, to declare the opening of the borders and the breaking of the barriers, to break down the doors of the prisons, to return the olives and the vineyards to their owners, to return the Children of Palestine to their borders and their land and to try to recover what was lost and trampled under the hobnailed boots of the fat bullies. Only then, if the true children of this country will permit us to learn how to live in it, we too may be able to liberate ourselves from the Occupation and be free from fear, because as Menachem Begin said: “The essence of freedom is freedom from fear, because fear is no less terrible a ruler for its being concealed. ”'

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