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Jerusalem Peacemakers: You and Me in the Circle of Love      
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Welcome, loving viewers, to this edition of Good People, Good Works featuring Jerusalem Peacemakers, a non-profit organization created in 2004 by caring people in Israel and Palestine to build bridges between those of different backgrounds in the Holy Land.

Eliyahu McLean, the vegan co-founder of Jerusalem Peacemakers, will now discuss the organization’s benevolent mission and activities

Jerusalem Peacemakers is a network of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze religious leaders and grass-roots peacemakers, both in Israel and in Palestine, who are working together to bring peace, harmony and understanding between the children of Abraham and all of humanity in the Holy Land, in Israel and the world.

Jerusalem Peacemakers organizes many events and gatherings, creating a safe space where Israelis and Palestinians can come together to know each other as human beings, to see each other eye to eye, to share meals together, to pray together, to get to know each other in such a way that the walls between our peoples can break down. We create events and gatherings to rebuild trust between our people.

Jerusalem is an ancient city and sometimes appeared on maps of long ago as the center of the world. Through the ages, Jerusalem has grown, but its heart has always been the section called the “Old City,” an important holy site for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

I do belong to the Jerusalem Peacemakers. Actually, we are called the “Jerusalem Lovers,” people who love Jerusalem from all over the world. And this is all people that feel that this is the heart of the world. They become lovers of Jerusalem and then we become unified in love. Jerusalem in Hebrew is “light of the whole.” O Shalem is “light of the whole” or “light of peace.” So Jerusalem is, of course, the city of peace and all eyes are looking at Jerusalem.

How do the members of the Peacemakers define peace? Chaim Cohen, a raw vegan, is one of the Peacemakers and the executive director of the non-profit organization Peace Channels.

Basically, peace is to be at one with all creation. And Jerusalem Peacemakers is basically an interfaith organization, which has faith in a procreator or a creator, someone who has put into motion, that has created everything in creation; animals, trees, water, air, human beings are all integral parts of creation.

We are all like little organisms, we are all little cells in the organization, so if one is sick in the organization, or if we do not relate to the other one with respect, it is like we have a cancerous cell. That means we must respect every single thing in creation, everything that is created.

One important project of the Jerusalem Peacemakers is the Abrahamic Reunion. The group asks leaders of different faiths and the public to come together and celebrate various religious holidays. For example between August 24 and September 14, 2010, the holy days of four different religions were observed by the faithful in the Holy Land.

On August 30, 2010, the Peacemakers organized a gathering at a hotel in Nazareth to honor these observances. The event was titled “Repentance and Forgiveness Within Ourselves and Between Our Peoples – Interfaith Iftar for Understanding, Reconciliation, and Peace: The Interrelationships of the Ascension to the Tomb of Nebi Yaf’ouri, the Assumption of Mary, Eid ul-Fitr, Rosh Hashanah, and the Feast of the Cross.”

So the Abrahamic Reunion, we created a family of mystics from all of the faith traditions of the Holy Land and created a sense of unity among the peacemakers. Like a few weeks ago I had a house warming celebration in my new home in a suburb of Jerusalem and it was also the second night of Hanukkah.

So I invited a Druze sheikh from the Carmel Mountains, a Bedouin Muslim imam, a Christian from the Old City, a reverend from the church, Orthodox Jews, these are all people who are part of our family.

Elad Vazana is another Peacemaker and the former Director of the Sulha Peace Project. For many years he has been involved in activities to spread harmony and love throughout the Holy Land.

My name is Elad. I live in Tel Aviv (Israel) now and for the last nine years, I was devoting my life to create, to make, to bring people together Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews from different communities. We try to create spaces, places where people can meet each other and see that we’re human, can touch each other, can speak, can hear each one life’s stories, and to know that we’re all human.

One of the main activities which we found really effective, is the sharing circle. Just to sit in a circle and give each one time, space, the whole attention, of the whole group to share anything that he has in his heart, in his stomach. And many things happen there; one is people listen to you, and you feel important, you feel meaningful, you share your real stories, it’s healing.

You say, “I had a bad day,” “I had such experience in my past, this is what happened to me.” People share their dreams, their hopes, their fears. It’s a very safe place. So it’s healing for the one who speaks, and for the one who listens, they actually learn that, “Wow, this is a person, he is so human, he has a story.”

A custom among the Bedouin people of the Middle East is to hold an event called “sulha” to make peace among people. This tradition has been adapted by the Jerusalem Peacemakers to create more harmony in the Holy Land.

Sulha, it comes from the word for forgiveness. You sit together with elders; first you eat together, and then there’s some ceremony of forgiveness, you forgive each other.

The most needed is first to meet on the basis of human beings, to see each other as human beings. In this sulha gathering that we are having today (it) is (about) meeting each one, not as Israeli or Palestinian but as person to person, as a human being. Listening to him, listening to his pain, listening to his love and recognizing him.

And then after recognizing and acknowledging each one’s right for freedom, for security, for safety, for basic needs, after that we can start cooperating, doing projects, artistic projects, spiritual projects.

We always do vegetarian food so everybody feels comfortable, we don’t hurt animals. Because for kosher and halal reasons, like for religion and traditional reasons, everybody feels comfortable. Somehow the people, who are attracted to this kind of meeting and attracted to be the organizer, we all agree that it’s better to have vegetarian food.

For me, for example, I have a problem with killing, I mean we’re coming together to stop killing, to try to create something else, to believe in life, to give power to life. So it will be hard if there is killing, even of the animals in this meeting. We agree that there’s to be no meat and we never had any meat in this meeting.

Another project of the Peacemakers seeks to increase love throughout Jerusalem in a unique way.

So we create this annual event called the Jerusalem Hug, to literally hug Jerusalem. We organize at Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate around the walls of the Old City, big prayer gatherings to bring together hundreds. One year we even had over 2,000 people.

We form a human chain, we hold hands and we pray together around the walls of the Old City to hug Jerusalem. And instinctively, people who would never speak to each other and just walk by each other in Jerusalem, have come to our gatherings, have held hands and joined together with us to pray and hug Jerusalem. So that's an annual event called the Jerusalem Hug.

Before we conclude today’s program, let’s hear some final thoughts from the Peacemakers.

My message to the world is that we are all one. If I look really deep inside me, I see you and if I look deep inside you, I see me. And then, I care about you like I care about me. When we get to this point, there’s no difference between us, no reason to fight, no reason to be afraid.

Fixing the world, transforming the world, healing the world starts with us. If we heal ourselves, if we respect our bodies, if we eat proper foods, if we get a proper amount of rest, if we cultivate compassion, if we spend our time in loving, in developing presence with other human beings, we basically become in our own lives the peace we want to see.

And if I’m the peace I want to see, and if you’re the peace you want to see, then we can come together. And we can come together in peace and respect and love and tolerance and appreciation. And then we can be like a ripple. We can take a small stone and throw it into the water and watch this ripple effect spreading, more and more people coming to the realization that we are all in this together.

Elad Vazana has a special message for Supreme Master Ching Hai.

I’ve heard about your work, and I could feel your energy through these beautiful people and I really got inspired from this work. I feel that you’re a big soul and what you do for humanity, for this world, for animals, for plants, is something that will stay, forever in this world. I really got inspired from these actions. I wish many people will know about it and be inspired as well.

Because when we see other people who give so much and care so much, it makes us moved. So please, please bring your message to as many people in this world because we need it so much and thank you for everything you do.

In response, Supreme Master Ching Hai has the following message for Elad: Thank you, loving, Elad for your well meaning messages. You and your group are also doing great work, fostering peace where it's truly needed. We pray for your increasing success in your noble endeavor. With all love and best wishes.

Our warmest thanks, all members of the Jerusalem Peacemakers for your important work that is bringing peace and harmony to Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world. May all humankind soon connect with the oneness inside our hearts.

For more details on Jerusalem Peacemakers,
please visit www.JerusalemPeacemakers.org or
www.JerusalemPeacemakers2008.JerusalemPeacemakers.org

Treasured viewers, thank you for your company on today’s Good People, Good Works. May all be blessed forever with Divine love.

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