Friday, February 09, 2007

a different kind of birthday celebration

Eliyahu celebrates his birthday every year in Jerusalem. This year, this Jerusalem Peacemaker invited not only his Orthodox Jewish friends from the Jerusalem area, some coming from the settlement of Bat Ayin, but also his Palestinian friends from Ramallah were there, having received a special permit to come into Jerusalem to celebrate with him. As well, Palestinian musicians from Sawahare, outside of Jerusalem were also granted permits for this evening. There was a Jordanian couple there, who were studying at the Hebrew University - he is researching the Jewish community of the Jewish quarter in the Old City and claims he is the first Jordanian doing any research on Jews in Israel.

The special guest that evening was a Moslem visitor from Iraq, who was here because his young child needed urgent medical treatment and he received a special visa for this. He is very grateful that his kid was healed here and hopefully he will bring that thankfulness over to his country and tell his people we in Israel aren't all ogres (we are sure they hear that over there). People were curious, and asked him all sorts of questions like "did he meet any Iraqi Jews while he was here?" "Did his view of Israel change now" "What did he think of Israel beforehand".

The organization that brought his child here is called "Shevet Achim" translated as "tribe of brothers". Once the child is found to be operable, the organization obtains visas for the child and one parent.
Representatives of the organization were recently in Jordan meeting about 30 families whose children desperately needed medical attention of the kind that could only be found in Israel, with their advanced medical techniques and, well, Jewish doctors. You can't find Jewish doctors in Saudi Arabia so one's gotta go where one's gotta go!

There was woman from Bustan Leshalom an environmental justice group, based in the Negev, working mostly with Bedouin communities. The group seeks to restore an environmental balance together as well as fight injustices such as home demolitions which are rampant in the Negev as many Bedouin live in unrecognized villages and are forced to move into townships. Often their homes get razed if they don't move.

Palestinian representatives of Combatants for Peace were there. Eliyahu remarked how it is easier for Suleiman to be a head of a Palestinian peace movement as he was in an Israeli jail for 10 years and therefore, he wouldn't be considered a collaborator, as some are considered by their own if they join up with Israelis for some activity or another...

And of course there was food. You can't have Jews and Arabs together without food. Pasta salads, fruit, popcorn, cakes, baklava, pizza - it was a potluck and a potpourri of all sorts of things you can shove in your mouth. The music was great - Jewish musician Rebbe Soul provided the Jewish side of tunes and Mohammad and Mochi performed wonderful oud music.

I wondered out loud if there was a way we could not only gather together for Eliyahu's birthday - but wouldn't it be nice if we all lived in the same apartment building together. Where's Arkady Gaydamak when you need him to buy up apartment buildings and put Jews and Arabs in them together to make beautiful music together. We saw tonight it can be done.

No comments: