HEALING WORDS FESTIVAL A STORYTELLING INITIATIVE FOR PEACE IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE

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1 HEALING WORDS FESTIVAL A STORYTELLING INITIATIVE FOR PEACE IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE

2 Storytelling in a Introduction Time of Unrest? The recent tragic and violent events in Gaza and the area since November 12 left yet again thousands of children and families traumatized, wounded and hopeless. The threat of the area being pushed again towards violence, as well as ethnic and religious struggles is constant and affects the stability of our whole world community. Facing the harsh reality in the Middle East, we are ever more determined to continue with our work as storytellers. Unless we can find new stories to live by we may find ourselves consumed by dragons of our own making. We have the power to explore with our imagination fresh possibilities, to create new worlds, to tell a different story. One that can break this spell we have been under, finding a slow awakening, freeing ourselves person by person from this cycle of hatred, fundamentalism and madness.

3 Introduction Background Summer 2006 The war in Lebanon and the cross border actions had left Galilee socially, economically and ecologically damaged. Facing this harsh reality, the Gate to Humanity Centre and the School of Storytelling collaborated to turn the annual Gate to Humanity Festival from a local event into an international forum hosting participant artists and facilitators from around the world, an International Storytelling Festival for Peace. During the 5 days of the festival in 2007, under tents in a pine forest, Story was used to dissolve borders and conflict between Arabs and Jews, to foster listening, and to create friendships. The festival brought together many peace initiatives who were able to share their work. It was the ground for a deeply moving and transformational experience to take place, bringing together over 2000 people to create new stories of hope, healing and peace.

4 The Introduction Project Now The Healing Words Festival will be held again in Israel, in May of This time an international group of 12 storytellers will work together for a month beforehand at the Gate to Humanity centre in Israel under a project called Meeting The Other. In the project the storytellers will prepare a sharing of stories and workshops. We will take this work with us into meetings with Arab and Jewish teenagers prior to the festival. In these meetings we will facilitate workshops, dialogues and listening circles. We hope that through meeting and working with us, the teenagars will be inspired to honour and celebrate their shared humanity. The project will culminate at the healing words festival where we will work together with other peace initiatives.

5 Here, Introduction for the first time in my life, I felt that people saw me for who I am and not as a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Arab. I felt that people asked where I come from, to know about me and not about my right or wrong doings. (Amira, Bethlehem, Participant in 2007) Healing Words was my first real encounter with the power of story. I was the translator to Arabic and English with a group of an Arab majority which is quite unique. The joy of the women in the workshop was beyond what I could describe, each day everyone opened up more, a lot of laughter and happiness was there. In those days, listening to the stories told, wandering from one storyteller s world to the other, I felt my heart melt and open slowly, I now know how much power words have. I want to tell the story of my people, the story of the earth I grew up on, show her beauty, maybe that would open some person s heart as mine was opened. (Muna Shaheen, Translator in 2007)

6 Introduction The Healing Words Storytelling Peace Festival, born from a flickering moment of human exchange, born from painful longing for a different reality, and from hope and faith and an undying belief in the inherent goodness of the human heart, was a prayer for peace, and a celebration of it. It was a prayer for what we know can be possible between peoples and between countries. Watching the delightful jumble of accents, languages, and different colored faces, I thought perhaps peace is already upon us. Perhaps even in this conflict-ridden area, even in our war-torn, blood soaked Middle East, the inner knowing of a different reality, the deep realization of a peace consciousness, already exists within the collective heartbeat of us all. (Ellaya, Participant in 2007)

7 I Introduction was a part of a youth conference looking at the extremely challenging question of Responsibility, how to meet the challenges of the world today? At the Healing Words Festival I saw possibility manifesting right there instead of it just being an idea. To be so inspired and touched by the stories, laughter, heart and tears of each uniquely gifted human being who shared themselves under the deep starry sky of the forest changed my life forever. It was a deeply transformational experience which continues to touch me as the years move on. (Rose Nekvapil, Australian Participant in 2007) I came from Jordan and married a Palestinian man and have lived in Palestine for many years now. I still call my family in Jordan every day because I miss them so much. But now during the festival, for the first time since I left home, I didn t call for five days... It is because I feel at home. (Palestinian Participant in 2007)

8 The Project Partners The School of Storytelling at Emerson College, UK, is the longest running international centre of its kind where the craft of the storyteller is practiced and honoured. It is a place for different cultures and spiritual traditions to meet and exchange their wealth of story lore. The School researches the role of stories in conflict resolution, community building and personal and social development. Here stories come alive and serve performers, healers, teachers, the business world, the school of storytelling environment and the wider community. The Gate to Humanity Centre is an educational and cultural centre founded by Arabs and Jews for joint Jewish-Arab activity. In this land there lies a hidden and complicated social reality which demands daily ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the Muslims, Jews, Bedouin, Tscherkess, Druze and Christians who live there. The Gate to Humanity promotes opportunities for cross cultural events, one of their major projects is working with local young people to produce theatre pieces to tour the UK and Europe. For the last few years the annual highlight at the Centre is a festival of Arab and Jewish culture and understanding held during May. This festival is very popular and attracts thousands of people from the surrounding areas and beyond.

9 Costs for Meeting The Other Bursaries for 4 locals, 2 Jewish Healing Words Festival A Storytelling Initiative for Peace Vision We work to inspire the emergence of a conscious, responsible and peaceful culture of listening and dialogue in the region. We do this through the sharing of personal and traditional stories, bringing people together in listening and dialogue circles where it becomes so clear that we all share the same hopes and fears and a common humanity. We believe that the presence, encouragement and support of the participants from the international community is essential for this task. In order for this vision to become a reality we are asking for your help. and 2 Arab for the project Tarvel expanses within Israel 4,800 2,000 We would be pleased to supply further information about our project and the festival, and you can also visit the websites: Total Costs of the Festival Publicity Administration Insurance Security Additional toilets Buses for School Children Staff and volunteers meals during preparation week and festival First Aid Total 6,800 4,000 3,000 3,700 4,000 2,500 3,000 2,000 1,250 23,450 Gate to Humanity Centre: School of Storytelling:

10 Healing Words Festival 20 - A Storytelling Initiative for Peace We Need Your Help! If you wish to support the Healing Words Festival in its work to reopen peaceful channels of communication in Israel/Palestine - please make a donation now of whatever you can afford. For donations just follow the link

11 All support is greatly appreciated Thank you!

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