Dear TalkMatters Supporters,

Keep, keep going‘ I said to a UK friend involved in Israeli-Palestinian cooperative projects.  And in my head I’m saying the same thing to myself.  Yes, it’s hard at the moment but we must make the best of the life that we have in the UK whilst continuing to support the people living in a much more troubled land.  We will not forget the Jews and Arabs who are determined to work together for a better future.

Having said thatwe cannot close our eyes to what is happening here in the UK.  Antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred are reported daily. The elephant in the room is Israel and Palestine. Extreme views on both sides are rife; whipped up and perpetuated by social media.  So perhaps now is the time for TalkMatters to join the fray and use social media to try and counteract the ugly sentiments and growing polarisation.


Our message is clear.  We know that Jews and Arabs can get along in Israel Palestine, so why is it that some people in the UK can only see one side of the story?  TalkMatters illustrates how moderate people behave.  Behaviour that questions our understanding of the complexity of the situation.  TalkMatters makes us aware of how Arabs and Jews get to know each other and build up trust. 

Our update this month brings news from four of our associates – two based in Israel and two based in the UK.   We hear from the Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative and the Clore Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Israel, and from Solutions not Sides and FODIP in the UK.

Finally, if you think TalkMatters is important, please share this update.  Please also take a moment right now to send this link to your family and/or friends WhatsApp group, or pass this email on to friends and colleagues and invite them to join the TalkMatters mailing list

With every wish for better times,Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.

Mohammad Fahili’s Spring Update 

Impact of the War on our Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Akko

Immediately after October 7th, Israel effectively shut down. It took a few weeks before public places, such as schools and community centres, were permitted to reopen. In Akko (where fears of attacks from Hezbollah in the north remain a reality), many residents preferred to keep their children at home even after schools reopened. After six months, many of our activities have been reinstated and new ones have begun. We are also planning joint programmes, even more necessary since the war began.

After the Iranian missile attack, we feared that tensions would break out between Arabs and Jews in Israel (likely part of the Hamas plan). But it did not happen. This has been widely attributed to the work of centres like ours. Those of us involved in shared society projects were moved to see the positive impact of our ongoing work: we remained neighbours, not enemies, standing together through this trauma. Despite the initial trepidation and some challenging conversations at our Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Akko, we witnessed the impact of two generations of Jews and Arabs coming together, showing how important our work has been and will be going forward into the new reality.

News from our Jewish-Arab Community Centre in Akko

● We are busy planning our Partners in Peace Summer Camp. We are working with the Akko municipality to identify children for whom this would be a godsend. We hope to have additional excursions for the young people are not immune from the stress and trauma we are all experiencing. They deserve some respite. For the first time, we have an intern (from Harvard University) who will lead activities in English for our Arabic- and Hebrew-speaking participants

● We are pleased that Samach Lacham (herself a parent of participants) is our new coordinator to the Arab community. Her outreach and creativity in programming have already proven themselves. We are excited to see what she will do with the summer camp, which she now runs.  She works hand-in-hand with our Jewish coordinator.

● A long-term supporter based in the UK, who envisions expanding the impact of our work, is driving the idea of opening additional centres throughout Israel.  As a first step, he is funding a feasibility study, which is in its early stages.

● Over the summer of 2023, which seems so long ago, Israel Link (an educational organisation from the US) made a short video about our work, which featured a day at the summer camp.

Play Israel Link’s video of  our work
Enjoy watching!

The Clore Jewish-Arab Community is in our directory has their own website  There are details of how you can donate to help support their work on this page of their website.

Introducing Imam Muhammad Sharif Odeh

Imam Muhammad Sharif Odeh attended the Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiatives‘ annual Ramadan and Iftar tennis games and meal.  Listen to his short speech in which he emphasises the importance of solidarity and understanding, how now more than ever we must see each other not as strangers, but as partners in peace-building efforts

Over 100 children and families from nearby communities – Jisr a Zarqa, Faradis, Binyamina, Zichron Yaakov, Maagan Michael, Beit Hanania, Pardes Hana, Kfar Qara – came to the event.   The regulars led some friendly games that got everyone laughing together as they tried to catch or hit balls and run to help their team.  Parents and siblings joined in the lively games and began to interact with one another.  Then everyone gathered together, sharing in the tradition of breaking the fast with the Iftar meal.

At the end of the evening so many parents, both Arabs and Jews said that for the first time since October 7th they had some hope for the future and how they wish for more and more events like this one.

The Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative is in our directory and have their own website.  There are details of how you can donate to support their work on this page of their website  

Jess Brandler reports on the work in the UK classroom 

Over the last six months, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with the Palestinian & Israeli speakers who volunteer their time, against so much internal and external pressure and judgement, to speak together in British classrooms against hatred, violence, war crimes, and polarisation. Together, they have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to call for a better future for everyone in the region. We could not do this work without them and we need your support to ensure that we can continue to do this work with their voices, experiences, and perspectives at the core of it.

Every single Israeli & Palestinian person I know has been personally affected by October 7th and the Gaza war, with some of these speakers losing loved ones. Together, they have walked into classrooms and shared personal experiences and perspectives, and have even sometimes come up against denial, justification, or questioning. But, it’s not just Solutions Not Sides or that individual who responds to the students, it’s the other speaker, who stands up and calmly educates and explains the reality of what happened or is happening, and how to show empathy, compassion, pragmatism, and allyship during these times. It’s also the other speaker who dismantles the conspiracy theories that have spread across British society via social media.

Magen from Israel, and Hamze from Palestine standing together at the
front of a classroom before a workshop at a school in North London

Whilst I’ve been working in this field for almost ten years and have worked with hundreds of incredible activists during this time, I did not expect to still have so many people applying to volunteer with SNS when divisions, mistrust, hatred, and sentiments of revenge seem at an all time high. If they can carry on doing this work, then so can we.

I think of Magen, whose parents were killed at a kibbutz on October 7th. I think of Hamze, who feared for his son’s safety as soldiers pointed guns at them near Ramallah. I think of Dina, who sat on a Zoom session with her child and had to run to a shelter during the session as bomb sirens went off in her town. I think of Khader whose family members have been killed in Gaza. I think of Reem, who gave birth whilst fearing extreme settlers attacking Palestinian property in her village. I think of Sara, who came on a tour a couple of months after a close friend was killed at the Nova Festival. I think of all of them and their bravery.

Solutions Not Sides is in our directory has their own website and joined TalkMatters for a webinar in December 2020. At the moment they are raising money to bring 25 more incredible speakers like the ones above to share their stories with young people in Britain today.  There are details of how you can donate to help support their work on this page of their website.  

Sadia Akram reports from Jerusalem

During this season of Pesach, with its message of redemption, we cannot but think of, and pray for, all those held captive physically or emotionally in the region: the hostages held captive by Hamas and their families, those suffering from the humanitarian crisis and devastation in Gaza, and those experiencing the violence in the West Bank. While the situation shows no signs of improvement, we are managing to maintain many of our links with colleagues there.

 Sadia Akram with John Munayer of the Rossing Centre for Education and Dialogue in Jerusalem.

I was in Jerusalem at Eid and was able to meet with a range of people.  I was there during the Iranian missile strike, and would like to share this personal note, starting with this photo of explosions in the night sky:

Iranian Missile Strike

Drones and Missiles sent by Iran lit the skies above us in East Jerusalem, on Sunday morning (14th April) at 1.46 am. I ran to the window to loud sounds and saw fireballs lighting the sky and moments later sirens blaring warning to its residents. 

It was surreal, I was confused, calm and panicked all at the same time.  I was witnessing a real attack, the missiles were flying over us; where will they end up?  I knew in my mind I wouldn’t be hurt, and we will be safe. But I couldn’t help but think of Gaza and the constant fear the people there must endure, especially the children, living with the ever-present reality of destruction.

Despite the panic and fear, there was an odd sense of celebration and defiance among Jerusalemites.  I saw people running to the rooftops to capture the moments.  I heard them rejoicing, perhaps with a feeling of relief.”

Forum for Discussion on Israel and Palestine is in our directory has their own website and joined TalkMatters for a webinar in May 2021.  Details of how you can donate to help support their work on their website.  

TalkMatters together with Oasis of Peace UK are looking ahead to better times.   We are planning our next interfaith trip to Wahat al Salam/Neve Shalom (WASNS)/Oasis of PeaceThis is a wonderful initiative that I have been involved with for a very long timeIt is a village that supports three educational institutions half-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Jews andArabslive in a shared, equitable society.  Postponed since last November due to the war, we are hoping to visit this November.  Please join us.  To register your interest and/or for more information please contact hello@talkmatters.info or office@oasisofpeace.org.uk

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.