Dear TalkMatters Supporters,

On Sunday I joined a Roots webinar entitled Peace-Makers at a Time of War.  Roots is a Palestinian Israeli Initiative in the Gush Etzion-Bethlehem-Hebron area.  They are the first to build a community centre in the West Bank encouraging understanding and non-violence between Palestinians and Israelis. 

Certainly a tall order at this divisive time in history.  The mood on the ground is poisonous and our speakers Noor Awad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger did not shy away from what is happening.   We heard about the current chasm between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists with many disillusioned with the idea of partnership.  Both sides were unable to recognise the shame, humiliation and fear of the other.  Both sides are pushing into the hands of extremism.   It is a vicious cycle of hurt and pain that precipitates more hurt and pain.  

Then we heard Roots’ response to the situation.  An acknowledgement that now is the time to accept the legitimacy of our partner on the other side – to show compassion and empathy and take responsibility for our partner’s pain.  To be brave enough to condemn what our own side is doing and not to make demands of the other side. To recognise that both peoples have caused and suffered too much.  To let the healing begin with a slow steady process that involves facing up to the context behind the hurt and pain.  Yes, they know that steps need to be taken towards a political settlement but they see their ‘people to people’ approach as essential if there is ever to be peace in the future.

A Hand in Hand Schools discussion – update from HIH below

This very much accords with TalkMatters’s philosophy.  Maybe the Hamas attack and the subsequent war in Gaza means that the ‘people to people‘  approach will be taken seriously by many more people.  We are talking about what happens the day after this war ends and of new ways to address the never-ending Israeli Palestinian conflict.   TalkMatters can help here.  We support over thirty cooperative grassroots initiatives that provide opportunities for people from different communities to meet, talk, listen and build up trust.  This is an important part of the way forward.  We need to increase the number of followers for each initiative and increase the number of initiatives.  This needs your support.   If the leaders of these initiatives have the courage to continue striving for peace, justice, and equality we can and must be by their side.  Their way is the way of hope for the future of Israel and Palestine..

Today we also bring you hope for our country – the UK.  Despite the discord we have seen at demonstrations about Gaza and Israel, the links between Muslim and Jewish communities at the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester are stronger than ever.   Mohammed Amin MBE is the Co-Chair of the Forum.  Mohammed has been a great friend and adviser to TalkMatters right from our start three years ago.  I highly recommend that you read his article on the Impact of the Gaza Conflict in Britain.

TalkMatters is supporting Solstice Day of Peace on the 22nd December.  See below for more details.

Also below there are inspiring stories from the Hand in Hand Schools and the Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative.

We are taking a break until the 10th January but before signing off, we would like to wish everyone happy times whether it be for the closing days of Chanukah, the advent of Christmas and/or the approaching festive season. 

All good wishes,

Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.

Hand in Hand Schools

There are six Hand In Hand bilingual, integrated schools with over 2,000 students from diverse communities across the country.  These schools operate in partnership with the Ministry of Education, in a model with potential for scaling across Israel for far-reaching change. 

The Hand in Hand Schools are featured in our directory and has their own website.  There are details of how you can donate to help support their work on this page of their website.  

The Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative

“Sport has the power to change a nation because sport has the power to inspire”  Nelson Mandela

For over 20 years the Freddie Krivine Initiative has helped to break down stereotypes by bringing Jewish and Arab children together through their interest in tennis. 

Since October 7, all our lives have been shrouded in a fog, leaving many of us feeling disoriented and disconnected to real life.

On Thursday began Hanukkah, a festival that dispels darkness one candle at a time – and yesterday FKI brought together Jewish and Arab children from the Israeli communities of Jisr a Zarka, Faradis, Binyamina, and the Moshavim in Hof Hacarmel.

The scene was nothing short of magical as the children laughed, ran around, tagged each other, and engaged in tennis games, a testament to the possibility of living together in peace, side by side. The joy exhibited by the kids was a reminder that unity, understanding and shared experiences can bridge gaps.
What made this gathering even more special was the simplicity with which the children interacted. They encouraged their team members, cracked jokes, and jumped up and down with boundless enthusiasm. In their world, coexistence is not a complex concept; it’s a way of life.

We are creating a blueprint for how our society could be—one where laughter and play replace animosity and division.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support – it means so much to us!

The Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative is featured  in our directory has their own website and joined us for our first live event in June 2023.  There are details on this page of their website  which show how you can donate to help support their work.

Solstice Peace Project

For more details please see the Solstice of Peace’s website and to show your support, complete their form.

Please pass on this information

Please pass on this information to your friends and colleagues.  Please talk about the human stories that we share with you. In the horrendous circumstances we all find ourselves, TalkMatters continues to introduce the UK public to the people who refuse to see one another as enemies.  We believe in supporting the grass-roots work in Israel and Palestine and we know that it is only by working together with you – our UK supporters – and with our Israeli-Palestinian Associates that we can ever walk another path.  A path that leads to a future of peace, justice and equality for everyone. 

We send out regular newsletters like this, and run our own in-person and online live events – we’d love to be able to keep you up to date!  Please subscribe to our free mailing list using the form on this page.

Thank you for your support.

Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.