Vision Camp in Israel-Palestine

We refuse to be enemies.
A vision camp for peace in the Middle East initiated by Sabine Lichtenfels

Saturday, July 26, morning:
12 hours ceasefire. However the night around the vision camp in the Westbank was again very intensive and violent. Again three Palestinians were killed in a village nearby. One of them was only 16 years old.
Later, some of the participants want to visit the mourning families.

Sabine: “We are in the middle of a turmoil, the situation is more than intensive. It is a crossfire of world views. However, in the camp a deep solidarity has emerged among us. People from both sides really start to listen to each other. This is the last day of this group, from tomorrow we will open for new participants. We are not aiming to have many new participants, but we expect some leaders of the peace movements. They confirmed to come as they feel that really something big can come out of this meeting.”

Tonight a part of the participants will hold a sweat lodge with peace prayers, others will join the peace demonstration in Tel Aviv.
Tomorrow we want to send out a new statement, published by the participants, with a text of empowerment for the joint meditation on Monday morning and Tuesday night.
Our common prayer is that the weekend will bring a deep change to the situation. That the people of Israel and Palestine will find a new way of coming together, a deep shift, and a readiness to listen to other voices.
Also after the Vision Camp the work will go on. In Tamera we will hold a peace vigil until the end of August. We will expect some of the peace workers from Israel-Palestine to our Summer University. Stay connected.

Friday, July 25th, afternoon. The news speak about the biggest marches and clashes in the Westbank for decades. 10.000 people march from Ramallah to Jerusalem. The Westbank seems to rise, and the army reacts with more violence. The shootings come very close to the Vision Camp.
Message from Sabine Lichtenfels: “I am just returning from the global circle. We are beyond words. Three Palestinians from the village here close by, were killed. They were directly shot in the head, killed by Israeli soldiers. We heard the shooting nearby. The information from the „different sides“ are very different –  the Palestinians say there were peace workers – the Israeli side says, they were terrorists. When will all this brainwashing ends and we are all ready to face each other as human beings?
We bare witness here – and try to stay in Grace. In the camp, the trust between the people is growing. I want to quote some sentences from a Palestinian. While I am writing this I again here shooting close by. He said: „In 2001 I decided to give up being a victim. I think we have only one enemy. We are not two sides, we are one side. We have one common enemy: the hatred.”
How many Palestinians will have to be killed for the Israeli to feel save. The freedom of the Palestinians will never be achieved through missiles and suicide bombing. Now it is time to be extremist for peace. At this moment kids are burrying their parents. Enough is enough.
And now there are strong meetings between us – in silence, with prayers, with statements, with music – we do our best to connect with the power of peace – trying how we can guide each other to an inner power instead of feeling weak!
It is challenging and we come to the core question of humanity – when will this cycle of violence really end and what is our contribution to it?”

On Thursday at 6 pm, the vision camp started in the Westbank with 50 people from Palestine, Israel and other countries, and more Palestinians are expected in the next days. The meeting place is a very simple site with almost no infrastructure.

Sabine: “It is a very challenging and emotional situation, more than ever since I know the region. People are under a strong pressure and have the urge to do something. Peace workers from both sides are tired and desperate. After many years of struggle for non-violence and peace, the violence again seems to be stronger. Some of the participants are restless, would love to run to Gaza to bring help, blankets, anything to the people. And we hear from a march with 10.000 Palestinians from Ramallah to Jerusalem and from clashes.

The atmosphere in the whole country is charged with fear and anger. I still feel protected, but there is also fear of some who feel they could be attacked for their commitment for peace. Palestinians are afraid to be accused of “normalisation”, for being in contact with Israelis.

This is not a normal seminar or meeting, we have to do very basic work for trust building among us all and empowerment to raise our voices for peace. The group energy is rising constantly. In the morning, after a beautiful morning prayer by Vera we did simple work – Karma Yoga – planting trees and other things as a gift for the place. The owner gives a great example. He is a man whose brother was killed by Israelis, but chose the path of non-violence – a strong decision.

What can be a help in this situation? People must see that they are not alone, that there is an international community that cares about them. Building community on every level, learning how to raise our voices. People are overwhelmed that we as Europeans came at all to be with them. Our task is to show that there are alternatives to the war system and that there is a global movement.”

Thursday, July 24th, Day of Arrival:

Arriving in Tel Aviv seemed to be a miracle in itself. After a Hamas rocket hit a place close to the Tel Aviv airport on Tuesday, all international flights to Tel Aviv were cancelled. However, the team decided to go to the airport anyway to see if they can make the impossible possible. With a lot of luck and even more prayers they managed to get the four last places in an El-Al flight from Madrid to Tel Aviv.

As a first impression from the country Sabine Lichtenfels mentions the shelters: “There are everywhere, in all squares and places. We hear from other peace workers that the tension has never before been so high as in the moment. Friends from a peace village say they survived the Intifada, wars and crises, but now for the first time they feel afraid.”

Fear and anger are high in the country, and there seem to be few places where Palestinians and Israeli can meet, can perceive each other, share deeply and work on a common vision for peace. This is what the vision camp wants to create.

After a short rest in Jerusalem the four of them headed to the Westbank, where an Ashram for non-violence is about to emerge. This is the place where the Vision Camp has started with 50 people from Israel and Palestine at 6 pm local time.

Press Release: We refuse to be enemies – Vision Camp in Israel-Palestine

The Middle East is exploding in violence. In the last two weeks the war has killed more than 700 people, the vast majority of them in Gaza, with more than 100 children amongst them. Due to the extensive bombing of even schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes people can no longer find protection or shelter. Hatred, fear and anger are at a peak in the whole region.

Today, in this turbulence, peace workers from Israel, Palestine and other countries are begining a five-day vision camp in the Westbank. In the middle of the war they hold a peace vigil and create a frequency of calmness in which mutual perception, sharing, deep listening, clear thinking and vision building is possible. They say, “We refuse to be enemies.” And, “Together we can give a clear sign to end the war.”

Co-initiator Sabine Lichtenfels, co-founder of the peace research center Tamera, Portugal: “Justice cannot be achieved through bombing. The tears shed by Israeli mothers are the same than those of Palestinian mothers. By gathering those who are against the war we want to make visible the knowledge and vision which is more powerful than globalised violence. This could become a turning point for the peace movement.”

Sami Awad, Director of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem and a participant of the vision camp: “The recent violence has once and for all shattered the illusion that all that is needed is to reach a political agreement through a diplomatic mechanism referred to as a “peace process”. It is time that a nonviolent movement emerges: a movement of Palestinians and Israelis, at a community level, addressing all aspects of injustice in this land; to work together in building a new vision and model for what peace, justice and equality mean in the Holy Land and link it with a strategy that breaks down all the physical and psychological barriers that perpetuate hatred, anger and thus separation and violence.”

For its protection and success the vision camp needs international accompaniment and publicity. The war in Gaza and Israel is not a local conflict but another breakout of the global war system – just like Syria and Ukraine. War is the unavoidable result of a society which follows the hypnosis of fear and separation – on economical, ecological, social and spiritual levels. Let us leave the war system whereever it is possible. Stay online and accompany the vision camp with your thoughts and prayers. We invite people all over the world to join in meditation on Monday morning (sunrise) and Tuesday evening (sunset and the end of Ramadan). Please take part.

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