Building the Infrastructure For Peace

March 9, 2014 by Shelly

elana.rozenmanI was privileged to be present on Friday in Jerusalem at a moving program about women’s roles in bringing change. My friend from kindergarten(!!), Elana Rozenman, founder of Trust-Emun, a network of Israeli Jewish and Arab women, sponsored the program which screened a documentary film about the decades old turmoil on Cyprus between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Their ongoing struggle, involving war, ethnic hatred, and uprooting of populations has resulted in a divided island with physical barriers separating ethnic groups. People fled or were forced from their homes.

The film, directed by a Greek parliamentarian, resonated thoroughly with population movements in the Arab-Israel conflict. With attempts to reunify the island in recent years, women have knocked on doors of their former homes and developed relationships with the present residents. A panel of Jewish and Arab women whose life experiences and present involvement truly parallel Cypriot experiences spoke passionately about steps forward.

In my time in Israel, in an atmosphere of unresolved conflict, I’ve been very impressed with the ever greater number of attempts to reach out on an interpersonal level across the barriers with ambitious NGO’s like Trust-Emun leading the way. The number and variety of organizations and projects is dizzying! When a political settlement is finally signed, it’s success will need to rest on a sturdy and vast infrastructure of grassroots relationships where newborn trust and friendship can be built.

I’ve been very impressed with the ever greater number of attempts to reach out on an interpersonal level across the barriers with ambitious NGO’s like Trust-Emun leading the way.

It’s clear to me that these visionary groups are not waiting until a document is signed! They are committed now, and they express a reservoir of hope. I’ve spent much of my time with Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue groups, with the Interreligious Coordinating Committee in Israel, and with Rabbis For Human Rights. I’ve loved being with heroic people who do not give up!  May their work be blessed!


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