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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6

Activities
| Past Activities | From the Media | Newsletter | Video and Television

22/01/2009

Spain and then Austria

It is said that the media can be your best friend or your worst enemy, well in the case of Encounter Point, it is certainly the former.  Without this film , it would have been a lot harder to break down barriers in Spain and we are sure that we would not have found Federico Zukierman from Infomedio in Madrid  and our new friends who have introduced us to some of the most important opinion makers in the country.  One screening of the film opened endless doors and gave hope for a way towards reconciliation.  We have had several meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Miguel Moratinos , he has graciously offered us funds and support for our work on the ground.
 
Ali and I spoke in the Spanish Parliament to the pro. Palestinian lobby, and I hope that we managed to plant a seed that it is better to support a solution than just to be pro.Israel or Palestine.  In fact a representative from the Palestinian Embassy was at the meeting and he then came to say thank you and invited us to dinner with the Palestinian Ambassador,  Mr. Musa Amer Odeh.  The Ambassador offered to host an event in Madrid and to invite the Moslem community, we are hoping that the Israeli Ambassador will co-host.  All in all the meeting in the Parliament brought new friends and opened hearts.
 
Our next step was Palestinian Solidarity week in Jaen which is about 4 hours by train from Madrid.  It was quite stressful for me but also a gesture to allow me to talk in a completely pro-Palestinian event.  I was more than a little nervous, however once again the message works, and at the end of the meeting , most people came to say hi, and to thank us for the work we are doing on the ground.  Federico, Ali and I were so carried away by the meeting, that we missed the train back to Madrid and had to ride in a bus without shock absorbers for 5 hours, all in the name of reconciliation.


 
"Women without Borders" with its headquarters in Vienna was my next port of call, here my partner was Najwa Saadah and how gentle and refreshing it was to be in the quiet of Vienna and to spend quality time with Najwa who I have not seen for some time. The reason was we were invited along with around 35 other women from all over the world to a conference, "Save" (Sisters against violent extremism). 
 
Our group around the table at the conference on the first day consisted of a lady from Kuwait, one from Yemen, one from Lebanon, one from Iraq  a Palestinian, and me .  Well as you can imagine , I was not exactly the "flavor of the day" however the next day we were joined by the wonderful Manal Omar , Lily Munir from Indonesia and Najma Ahmed Abdi from Somalia as they heard our table had the most action.  It is extraordinary, here too  the message worked.  We created the statement for the whole conference and Nawal from Lebanon who really was not happy to have me at her table came and hugged me with tears in her eyes, and said she would be willing to share a home with me.  We were assisted in the creation of the statement by a special lady from Turkey Ece Temelkuran, my kind of lady. What an amazing group of women all together, Najwa and I are so grateful to Edit Schlaffer and Elisabeth Kasbauer for giving us the opportunity to meet and create a strong group working against violent extremism.  I wish we could invite all of these women to meet the Israeli and Palestinian public, they bring such a message of hope.

Robi Damelin










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