Firstly, I came across a great website, www.israel21c.org which looks at scientific and technological developments taking place in Israel now. Pythagoras Window, an Israeli company, has developed a new solar window that can generate power, reduce energy consumption and let in daylight, "promising a green revolution to the construction industry" according to Daniel Ben Tal's article.
|my ray of hope|
Of course, the construction industry has been in the forefront of many Israeli minds of late, with hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating, primarily against the high cost of property in Israel, but also against the high cost of living in general. I was aware of the disparity between most people's wages and prices but the scale of the protests that began in Tel Aviv - on Rothschild Boulevard of all places - and slowly spread to Kiryat Shmona in the north and Beersheva in the south, have been staggering. It has been illuminating reading the news reports and tweets coming from Israel, and reassuring that Israelis are not as politically apathetic as was beginning to fear they had become. It was also good to see news that wasn't centred on the conflict, even though that issue has also crept in, and to see Jews and Arabs protesting together about the socio-economic issues that unite them as Israelis.
|"Equality for all" (photo courtesy of Elizabeth Tsurkov)|
So I wanted to share with you some of the amazing organisations who are working in Israel/Palestine/Occupied Territories and beyond to encourage equality, opportunity, understanding and trust between people in that region.
Firstly, I came across YaLa-Young Leaders يالا-يا قادة الشباب יאללה-מנהיגים צעירים
(hey I can copy & paste Arabic & Hebrew into the blog! - another technological breakthrough!) a young leader's movement which has been created to give the young generation (aged 15-30) in the Middle East a leading voice in shaping their future and destiny. See their facebook page and website for information and ways you can support them. I then came across Khalas, a Facebook page with the aim of helping to build a strong foundation of peace among people at the most fundamental level - that of friendship through a handshake. Like me, Khalas believes that "only individuals, like you and I, can create a change in the government and not the opposite ... that if you shake someone’s hand you are most likely to view him as your friend and not your enemy. There are so many organizations that try to do amazing things, however a real peace needs a strong foundation! To achieve a real peace we need to start from the basics"
Khalas has enabled me to find out about many other projects and organisations that exist online and in real time and space (!) that have, over the past week, rebuilt my hope in what I was beginning to think was a hopeless situation in Israel. I now know there is an increasingly strong community of people from many backgrounds, who want to build a viable future for themselves, their children and grandchildren, and for whom this is more important than political or religious ideology.
The two organisations that have stood out to me most from this have been Kulanana and JustVision. Each of these groups are fulfilling an increasingly important role in a media that is obsessed with the negative news of the conflict (of which there is plenty, of that there is no doubt).
Kulanana is focused on social cohesion within Israel, between the disparate ethnic and linguistic groups that make up Israeli society. Their aims for 2011 are outlined in the video below:
JustVision is an organisation that aims to raise the profile of the positive examples of co-existence, peaceful trust-building and co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians that are too often overlooked by the media. I am looking forward to learning more about the work of these organisations and hope to be able to contribute more directly to their efforts by the time I am living in Israel. For now though, I will do what I can, and that is blog, and tell you and hope that you too spread the word and support these wonderful organisations and individuals in their pursuit of a peaceful future. In the words of Robi Damelin (http://www.justvision.org/encounterpoint):
“There’s no pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. There’s pro-solution.”