Rays of Hope
In line with our mission of promoting cross-cultural understanding, we post stories and activities that embody this ideal – – “Rays of Hope.” We invite readers to email us such stories and activities for posting here.
Patrick Mascoe is a teacher in Ottawa, Canada, who works in a predominantly Muslim inner-city school. After hearing anti-Semitic rhetoric at school he decided to develop a friendship program to bridge the divide between the city’s Muslim and Jewish community. He introduced Holocaust education to his grade 6 students and engaged in a penpal exchange with the city’s only private Jewish school. After 5 years the program is still going strong, the two schools get together regularly to take part in team building exercises and to work together on projects of good deeds. The students now see themselves as role models for others to look up when it comes to tolerance and good citizenship. Video 1 | Video 2
An intriguing story about a group of courageous Pakistanis who, inspired by the legacy of Daniel Pearl, established a Center for Interfaith Studies In Faisalabad, dedicated to pluralistic education at the high school level. Visit the World Tolerance Forum. A miraculous story of a dynamic person fond of talking to strangers. A 26-page Urdu language magazine distributed to schools and libraries in Pakistan, introducing the concept of interfaith dialogue with Daniel’s life as a role model.
This Children4Peace Project nurtures cross-cultural understanding by allowing students to reach out and touch the hearts and minds of impoverished children through the gift of music. To begin the exchange, participating students create two “friendship flutes”, one to keep and one to send, which are then distributed to children in distant lands by composer, educator and program founder John Zeretzke. Performances and workshops for children and teachers are provided and John returns to the U.S. classrooms with images, video clips and music created by the mission. This program engages each student in a deeper understanding of cultural traditions, geography, language and visual arts, music, and most importantly provides the lasting gift of positive service to the less fortunate.
This website posts a ‘Jewel’ of inspiration on each of the 29 days of Elul. Deepak Chopra to the Dalai Lama and Kirk Douglas to Matisyahu and others share their thoughts on ‘Hope and Healing’.
Project Ijtihad is a charitable initiative to promote the spirit of Ijtihad, Islam’s own tradition of critical thinking, debate and dissent. It supports a positive vision of Islam that embraces diversity of choices, expression and spirituality.
Among the Righteous by Robert Satloff
A most brilliant ray of hope shines from a recent book by Robert Satloff, which reveals for the first time the heroic stories of Arabs who risked their lives to save Jews during the holocaust. By framing the Holocaust as a positive, constructive Arab story, the book counters two of the most virulent components of modern Jihadi culture: Holocaust denial and ignorance of Jewish history.(Judea Pearl, November, 2006)
Based in Vancouver, Canada, the Creative Peace Network Society is a diverse group committed to promoting peace and understanding among people impacted by social and political conflicts. Palestinian, Israeli, and Canadian teenagers gather in and around Vancouver, British Columbia to participate in an extraordinary dialogue and filmmaking experience by producing several films together.
The Gesher al HaWadi — Bridge over the Wadi — opened on September 1, 2004 and is one of three “Hand in Hand” schools working to change the dynamic between Arab and Jewish neighbors. Hand in Hand, the centre for Jewish-Arab education was established in 1997 with the goal of initiating and fostering egalitarian, bilingual, multi-cultural education for Jewish and Arab children. In each school there are two principles, one Arab and one Jewish, in each class a Jewish and Arab teacher, and the students are comprised of fifty percent Arab and fifty percent Jewish children.
Just Vision has online the first 16 of 180 portraits of civilians engaged in grassroots efforts to advance peace in the Middle East. This is part of a larger effort to highlight courageous Israelis and Palestinians whose peace-related efforts receive too little media attention. Just Vision’s website also includes an interactive timeline of the history of the conflict through the lens of individuals committed to ending it and will include teachers’ guides, ways to get involved, audio, video and text in Arabic and Hebrew.
In an unprecedented gathering, Israeli, Palestinian and Arab writers from around the world met together at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge on Tuesday, February 15, 2005. As an international crossing point between Israel and Jordan, the bridge serves as a powerful symbol of hope, a link to understanding and a passageway over conflict. A brainchild of international publishers and cultural institutions that work with authors from the Middle East, the one-day encounter provided a unique platform for the sharing of views and experiences, and an opportunity for voices from both sides of the bridge to be heard. Through panels, readings and discussions, relevant literary issues covering a range of topics from translation to distribution will also be discussed.
All for Peace – Palestinian-Israeli Radio Aims to Unite
All For Peace radio, the only jointly run Israeli-Palestinian radio in the Middle East. The station started broadcasting music and talk radio over the Internet in April and says it gets up to 10,000 hits a day. In late 2004 a radio transmitter was put in place to send its signal out over FM radio. The station is a joint project of the Jewish-Arab Centre for Peace at Givat Haviva and the Palestinian organization Biladi, which publishes The Jerusalem Times. The studio is in East Jerusalem, the transmitter in Ramallah. Half the staff is Israeli, half Palestinian. Some broadcasts are in Hebrew, others in Arabic. AP Reports “In a region where the other side’s perspective is often drowned out by inflammatory words, All for Peace wants to teach listeners to disagree respectfully.”
Arabs For Israel at Carnegie Mellon University
A group of Arabs and Muslims have started a website to support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion while still treasuring Arab and Islamic culture. This effort is founded in the understanding that Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East and that diversity “should not be a virtue only in the USA, but should be encouraged around the world.” This group supports “a diverse Middle East with protection for human rights, respect and equality under the law to all minorities including Jews and Christians” and prides itself on not being anti-Islam, anti-Arab, confrontational or hateful.
Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who risked his life to save former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, spoke at a fund-raiser for the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.
International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace Petition to Free Bangladeshi Journalist
Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of the weekly Blitz, was arrested at Zia International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2003 for trying to travel to a writer’s conference in Israel. He was charged with sedition and jailed evoking strong reaction from the journalism community; five years later he is still on trial. Unfortunately, he is not the only journalist worldwide facing restriction of movement or arrest for trying to meet with colleagues. For more information on attacks on the press, please see the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.
In an effort to improve relations between Muslims and Jews, Canada’s Pakistani community has created a journalism scholarship in memory of Daniel Pearl, the Jewish reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was murdered by Muslim extremists in Pakistan last year.
Yusuf Muwwakkil was invited to travel to Turkey last fall with a group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Now he calls the 10-day bus journey by 45 “pilgrims,” 15 from each religion, one of the most important experiences of his life.
An Interfaith Passover Seder reinforced Jewish tradition and allowed others of the Abrahamic faiths to rediscover their common cultural heritage.