The Challenge of Grass-Roots Peace-Making in Israel/Palestine:

The Example of Open House by Peter Riddell

On 21 September, the International Interfaith Centre (IIC), International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and Moral Re-Armament (now known as Initiatives of Change) sponsored an evening dialogue with Yehezkel Landau and Michail Fanous of Open House in Israel. Andrew Clark (IARF) chaired the meeting and Amira Abdin, a Palestinian Muslim, and Ramola Sundram (IARF) responded.

To what degree can ‘grass-roots peace-making’ have an effect on bringing justice in power relations between nations? Many of those who are engaged at this level must have asked themselves this question as violence exploded between Palestinians and Israelis just days after this evening event. Pent-up frustrations appeared to have swept away years of patient ‘bridge-building’ at many levels.

‘One home, two peoples’ was how Yehezkel Landau describes ‘Open House’, a community centre for Jewish-Palestinian co-existence in Ramle, Israel. For him, it symbolises the challenge of two peoples sharing a land that they both believe is theirs. Having grown up in the United States seeing on television ‘unholy actions in the Holy Land’, one of his prime reasons for moving to Israel 22 years ago was because he believed it was ‘a laboratory’ in which to put into practice what he had learned about reconciliation: ‘a land redeemed, as a microcosm of humanity redeemed’.

www.openhouse.org.il

For full report go to IIC Newsletter 14