Dear Friends,

And so the nightmare continues.  My friend’s friend is going to a funeral this morning.  The body flown back from Israel to be buried in London.  Our family in S’derot have been evacuated and our family in Ofakim traumatised by the thought of Hamas at large in their town.  Hamas is drip-feeding footage of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.  Israel have confirmed many people – the very young and the very old amongst them –  tortured, dead and missing.  Innocent Palestinians and Israelis are dying.  Who will be alive by the time you read this, I dread to think.  Grief, fear and uncertainty everywhere as this horrendous war escalates.  

I would feel completely devastated if I did not know that there are Israelis and Palestinians who want nothing to do with any of this.  They are the inspirational leaders that run organisations bringing Palestinians and Israelis together through a shared interest.  Whether it is sport, music, hi-tech, ecology, religion or education, etc. there is the chance for people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions to talk, build up trust and eventually listen to each other’s story.  Theirs is a very different approach to the on-going crisis.   I believe that this grass roots work, together with a much wiser political leadership on both sides, is the only way to create a new reality on the ground for when this ghastly time is over.  

We have now cancelled our November trip to visit the village of Wahat al-Salam~Neve Shalom but TalkMatters continues to work with our Associates to let you – the UK public – know what is going on through video clips, articles, and live events .

Below are the updates from the Abraham Initiatives in Lod, the Jewish Arab Community Centre in Akko, and the Interfaith Encounter Association in Jerusalem.   More information and the way you can support them can be found underneath each of their messages.  Please pass on this information to colleagues and friends so more and more people know about the brave Palestinians and Israelis who refuse to see one another as enemies, and who are working to build a future of peace, justice, and equality.

Message from Dr Thabet Abu Rass and Amnon Beeri Sulitzeanu, Co- Directors of the Abraham Initiatives in Lod

At a time which is charged with fumes, we see racist demons – people who are looking for opportunities to voice their racist ideas.

Our work is to monitor these sentiments, warn and make suggestions to ensure that shared life is protected. We work on handling the tensions between students, teachers and workers in all fields of endeavour. We offer invitations to Arab and Jewish psychologists to speak to mixed classrooms and Arab teachers at Jewish schools on the complexity of this moment.

We have connected those who graduated from our personal security courses in Tel Sheva, Rahat, and Kseifa with volunteer trainings led by the Home Front Command so they can assist in maintaining security during emergencies in their neighbourhoods We grieve, we suffer, we cry but we still try to think in a productive way about what we can do. We must continue our work in this moment and stay rooted in our ideals of shared society and equality.

The Abraham Initiative is featured in our Directory, has its own website and joined us at our first in-person live event this summer.  Information on supporting their work with donations from the UK is here.

Message from Mohammad Fahili, Director of the Jewish Arab Community Centre in Akko

These past days have been truly unbearable. As a country, we are reeling and traumatised. Your many messages of support and concern have meant so much. While we are still in the darkness and fear of what will transpire, we are strengthened by the togetherness of all the people of Israel – Jews and Arabs. Across the country, citizens have formed joint groups of volunteers who are raising funds to support the needs of the impacted residents of the south, and sending supplies to the soldiers and reservists who dropped everything to protect us all.

We are also heartened to see that in Israel there has been no intercommunal violence in its mixed cities, nor have there been demonstrations in Arab communities. During Friday prayers, my Imam expressed so accurately how we, Arabs in Israel, feel at this moment and it was important for me to share it with you, our devoted friends.

In line with all educational facilities, our Centre is currently closed. We pray that we will open soon – as we are steadfast in our mission to continue bringing together the mixed communities of Akko for the benefit of us all, because this is the only way forward.

The Jewish Arab Community Centre in Akko is featured in our Directory, has its own website and joined us for one of our TalkMatters webinars in 2021.  Information on supporting their work with donations from the UK is here.

Message from Yehuda Stolov, Director of the Interfaith Encounter Association in Jerusalem

Since the terrible events ten days ago, and the events that followed, we were obviously unable to hold regular encounters.

We therefore focus our efforts on two levels: on the immediate level – we are in close contact with our interfaith encounter groups, checking on how they are doing (especially those who suffer directly), listening to their needs and encouraging them to hold activities to support each other. Indeed, groups are starting to perform such activities and we will update about them later on.

We also use the time in order to prepare for the day after, so that once it is possible – we will resume full scale activity, 100% and more!

The Interfaith Encounter Association is featured in our Directory, has its own website and joined us for one of our first TalkMatters webinars back in 2020.  Information on supporting their work with donations  is here.

Yours in hope that this horrific time will end soon.
Jenny Nemko and the TalkMatters Team