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"Look into the mirror / Look into my eyes"

POETRY TO HEAL A SPLIT SOCIETY: A Tri-Lingual Presentation and Workshop Event under the title ""Look into the mirror / Look into my eyes".

A public reading of poems in English, Arabic and Hebrew With audience participation at The International YMCA, 26 King David Street, Jerusalem on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 17:00 - 20:00. Suggested Donation: NIS 20.


The Interfaith Encounter Association is dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study. We believe that, rather than being a cause of the problem, religion can and should be part of the solution.

The Jerusalem International YMCA was born as the brainchild of Dr. Archibald Harte, who in the 1920’s worked tirelessly for his vision of creating a bridge between faiths and cultures in the increasingly divided city.. Harte’s vision was captured in three inscriptions revealed at the 1933 dedication of YMCA building: “The Lord our God the Lord is One” in Hebrew, “I am the Way” in Aramaic and “There is no God but God” in Arabic. As politics wax and wane, the Jerusalem International YMCA remains s a place where all residents of the city can gather and enjoy culture, education and fitness programs.


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“Look into the mirror/ Look into my eyes” POETRY TO HEAL A SPLIT SOCIETY
A Public Reading Plus Workshop Event

This is a project designed to create empathy between people embroiled in a long-standing unresolved conflict over possession of land variously called “Palestine”,“Judea and Shomron” and “The Occupied Territories”. That land is indeed under Israel’s military occupation for various reasons. Some argue that ‘the occupation’ is necessary to protect the citizens of Israel. Clearly, many people suffer; both those under the ongoing occupation but also those living within Israel from the mutual violence it entails.

The project includes a public reading of ten poems carefully selected out from an unexpurgated book published in the USA that mirrored the ongoing conflict from various perspectives. (“ Before There Is Nowhere To Stand” Lost Horse Press 2012) . That anthology featured work by Israeli and Palestinian poets; both by Arabs and Jews who currently live in Israel and those who live elsewhere; all of whom responded to a general public invitation.

Each poem is to be presented in 3 languages; first in its original English, then in Hebrew and finally Arabic; with the exception of the three poems translated to English from Arabic, which will reverse the sequence. The opening poem, written after the book’s publication, has the title: Nowhere To Stand / Or. It sets the tone.

During the entire reading of poems that reflect various perspectives on what unites us, what divides us and what we aspire to, 3 individuals stand onstage beside one another. The English presenter for the opening poem is a woman who stands in the center between the Arabic and Hebrew speaking men. She reads first. When all three have finished performing the poem; they pause, look out at the gathering of people and join hands. After another pause to let the image sink into the minds of an audience that includes both Israelis and Palestinians -- Arabs and Jews from various backgrounds and with diverse points of view at the outset -- they let go hands. The presentation continues (not necessarily performed by the same individuals).

There will be three sets of readings. The first set, including three poems, will focus on ‘what we have in common’; the second set includes four poems that address ‘what divides us’, and the final set invites us to examine ‘what we aspire to’. After the opening poem and after each set thereafter, the audience is given time to jot down feelings & thoughts evoked by the poems (with pens and notebooks having been distributed along with a printed-out outline of the program, concert-style, as they first entered the auditorium.) Then the participant-audience will disperse into smaller groups ( to include no more than 20 individuals each) where they will have the opportunity to speak in turn for up to 5 minutes with a moment of silence in between each entry. Another moment of silence before the larger circle rejoins and a participant-facilitator from each sub-group summarizes what occurred. There may be singing of songs in several languages as the mood dictates. Silent meditation follows and we adjourn to the back of the room where people can write feedback and sign for further contact.

The objective of the proceedings? To open peoples' minds and hearts; to expand the circle of people in the community at large who are able to empathize with a supposed "other" and that some may even regard as "the enemy". In a word, by sharing mutual fears and aspirations let us make of presumed enemies friends and thereby create a groundswell of people, ever widening and deepening, that makes way for a society that ultimately promotes the wellbeing of all.

Hadassah Haskale, Project Initiator

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