Website promoting positive stories about Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of fostering respectful conversation
The brainchild of journalist Jenny Nemko, TalkMatters was inspired by her time searching for positive stories while working for BBC Radio. TalkMatters now represents over 30 grassroots Israeli-Palestinian co-operative initiatives with interests in music, education, technology, ecology, art, religion, business and sport.
Ms Nemko said: “From a diaspora Jewish perspective, I am passionate about promoting the opportunity for peace and harmony among Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jewish people in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories. I believe that the projects that TalkMatters represent are vital not only for the future of Israel and Palestine but also for Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations here in the UK where there is so much ignorance and confusion surrounding Palestine, Israel, Zionism and Antisemitism.”
“My deep belief in a secure Jewish homeland in Israel lives alongside support for Palestinian freedom and independence. I reject the notion that there is any contradiction here. I also believe that promoting the equality and integration of the Palestinian Arab minority is one of the most important challenges for Israeli society.”
The TalkMatters website already boasts several positive stories about Israeli-Palestinian ties, including one involving patients quarantining in Jerusalem’s so-called “Corona Hotel”.
Around 180 guests were stuck together in the Dan Hotel at the height of the pandemic. When Passover arrived in April, hotel management decided to divide the banquet hall in two for a seder night, to avoid friction between strictly-Orthodox and non-Orthodox patients.
Seeing the floor-to-ceiling barrier, Amram and Gina Maman, a Jewish couple, couldn’t stand the idea of having a segregated Seder. With the help of some younger guests, they dismantled the barrier – an ultra-Orthodox man jumping up only to help move the barrier into the corner.
All 180 guests – Jews, Christians and Muslims – celebrated the Seder together.
Another first-person account tells the story of Muhammad Jamous, a Palestinian from Jericho who late one night saw an Israeli man looking for petrol. His car had run out of fuel at the Ein Gedi checkpoint.
Despite the perceived danger of travelling with a Jewish person (Mr Jamous believed he could be arrested by Israeli police if they stopped him), he took Abraham, from Jerusalem, back to his car at the checkpoint.
They swapped phone numbers at the checkpoint, and Abraham asked Muhammad to visit him and his family one day in Jerusalem.