After witnessing the second intifada in 2000, we started working with peace activists in Israel-Palestine, hosting a Middle East Peace Camp in 2001. Since then, we’ve led pilgrimages in the Holy Land, collaborating with both Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. We hosted an International Water Symposium in Jericho in 2012, and in 2014, at the height of the atrocious Gaza war, we held a peace camp with the motto “We Refuse to be Enemies.” Between 2012 and 2014, a group of Israeli, Palestinian and international students of Tamera were working in the Jerusalem area to prepare for establishing a Peace Research Village. We continue to work toward manifesting this vision in the Middle East.
“In this region it’s about more than just the destiny of Israel and Palestine alone. If peace arises in the Middle East, this will be a precedent for peace to emerge all over the world.”
Middle East Peace Camp
We got involved in the Middle East during the start of the second intifada in 2000. At the time, a group in our Political Ashram did a spiritual exercise, watching the news with an open heart. Seeing the images of resistance and crackdown, a dreadful new cycle of violence unfolding, they couldn’t be indifferent or stay passive. Sabine Lichtenfels developed five visionary images for how peace could develop between Israelis and Palestinians. And the Institute for Global Peacework promoted this vision, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from peace activists on both sides.
The next year in 2001, we hosted a Middle East peace camp with around 100 participants, both Jewish and Arab. Profound connections, collaborations and solidarities developed. As well as seeing reconciliation, the camp in Tamera inspired a vision – to build a Healing Biotope or Peace Research Center in Israel-Palestine. This is to be a living model for a new culture of nonviolent coexistence between different ethnicities and religions in the Middle East – a center of hope for the world.
In 2005 and 2007, Sabine Lichtenfels and Benjamin von Mendelssohn led a Grace Pilgrimage with up to 180 participants through both Israel and the occupied West Bank. There were collective experiences of bearing witness to both pain and the possibility of reconciliation and healing in this land.
Through our international gatherings and pilgrimages, a group of Israelis, Palestinians and internationals came together to prepare the first steps for founding a Peace Research Center in the Middle East. Ten of their core members came to Tamera for an education time from 2007 through 2012, while continuing their work in the Middle East.
In 2006, we started collaborating with Sami Awad, Palestinian nonviolence trainer and leader of the Holy Land Trust, who’s become a core ally for the vision of Healing Biotopes in the Middle East. During his first visit to Tamera, Sami said, “As Palestinians, we’ve always asked, ‘How do we overcome the occupation?’ Through getting to know and learning from Tamera I’ve shifted my focus to ask, ‘What is our vision of what will happen after the occupation?’ Because unless we create that vision for a peaceful culture, we will reproduce the violence we’ve internalized and that’s in our own culture too.”
In 2012, inspired by a Grace Pilgrimage with the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Colombia, the group decided it was time for them to return to Israel-Palestine and begin the next phase. In the fall of 2012, they led a self-organized Grace Pilgrimage with 80 international participants through Israel and the West Bank.
Water Symposium in Jericho
The group in Israel-Palestine organized an International Water Symposium in Jericho, speaking to a broad audience, including the Palestinian municipal government and Israeli cooperation partners. Bernd Mueller, Sabine Lichtenfels and Aida Shibli presented the work on Water Retention Landscapes, showing the way they complement community and the healing of love.
Vision Camp During the 2014 Gaza War
In 2013 and 2014, the group searched for land as we continued to support them, and received many offers. But at the same time, they found themselves in an increasingly difficult political situation of growing hatred and looming fascism, which culminated in the atrocious Gaza war of 2014.
As the bombing campaigns begun and civilian casualties rose, Sabine Lichtenfels decided to spontaneously travel to the Middle East to gather Israeli and Palestinian peace activists for a vision camp for peace. 50 people came together in the West Bank under the open sky and the motto, “We refuse to be enemies.” Sami Awad, Israeli peace musician Gabriel Meyer and Palestinian activist Ali Abu Awwad co-led the camp together with Sabine – breaking through the hypnosis of fear and hatred, building community and reconciliation.
With the situation in Israel-Palestine gradually worsening, the Peace Research Village Middle East group realized that they still needed to deepen their education, so they can be prepared to establish a true peace model in an area with so much tension and violence. Some of them returned to Tamera to continue learning while others continued holding the ground in the Middle East.
On the Israeli side, a core group invested in building a network of individuals and groups throughout the country remained connected to the vision of the Peace Research Village and the Healing Biotopes Plan.
On the Palestinian side, a core group supported the emergence of ecological and technological models for self-sufficiency and regenerative design. Cooperating with the Global Ecovillage Network, a technology exchange and several international seminars were held at the Hakoritna farm in Tulkarem and the village of Farkha, Palestine’s first ecovillage.
We continue to prepare for manifesting the Peace Research Village in the Middle East – a vision that remains a strong focus in our global strategy. To make it happen, it will need a powerful circle of worldwide supporters and a strong global field for the Healing Biotopes Plan.
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