A moving ceremony was held at the YMCA auditorium in Jerusalem, where the Forum of Bereaved Families received the Martha Prize for tolerance and democratic values in Jerusalem. The Forum received the prize for a project which brought Israeli and Palestinian youth in Jerusalem together. The project begins with meetings of members of a single nation with Forum members, continues with a bi-national dialog aided by blogs created by youth and continuing on to face to face meetings.
Khaled Abu Awwad and Nir Oren, the chairmen of the forum were invited to the stage to receive the prize on behalf of the PCFF. The 7-minute trailer of the film: “Encounter Point” was shown, representing the Forum. Following the showing of the film, the prize was presented. Nir represented the Forum and the project in Hebrew. He thanked the prize committee. Khaled spoke in Arabic and gave examples from his own experience of how conciliation is possible.
The prize ceremony was part of the concert concluding the week “Speaking of Art 2008”. Immediately following the prize ceremony, Ehud Banai, George Samaan and Salem Darwish took the stage. The three, who have collaborated for twenty years, presented a wonderful performance which combines familiar poems in Arabic with the songs of Ehud Banai. Many of Banai’s songs have been translated into Arabic and were performed in the two languages by the three musicians who accompanied the singing with oud, guitar, and darbuka. The performance seemed to be a continuation of the Forum’s message while the album featured the lyrics of “Borders” (whose words are quoted at the top of this article), “Tip Tipa”, “Today” and more. The performance opened with a song in Hebrew and Arabic which combines words from the Bible and the Koran, which moved all of the audience. Very quickly a group of young people, Jews and Arabs, stood up to dance together at the sides of the auditorium – and happiness reigned. The entire performance was singing, speaking and presenting conciliation and coexistence. The harmony, the affection and the mutual respect between the three musicians, the friendship of many among the audience and the hosting of the YMCA which, for years, has been furthering coexistence and dialog between Jews, Muslims and Christians, all served to strengthen the belief that our path is right and possible. In the words of Ehud Banai:
“One more bit, you’ll see, we’ve almost arrived at the same corner, to this melody – our melody.”
The Jerusalen Foundation