In his cartoon, for the exhibition "Cartoons In Conflict" the Israeli cartoonist, Michel Kichka, the man behind this exhibition, draw two Zebras talking: "My mother is white and my father is black!", said the first; "And with me it is just the opposite!", answered the second.
Michel Kichka, Israel - "My mother is white and my father is black!", "And with me it is just the opposite!",
My mother was born in Hamburg. I was born in Tel Aviv! My mother fled Germany, due to fear from the Nazis; I came back to Hamburg-Germany, to participate in the opening of the exhibition, on behalf of our 'Parents Circle- Families Forum" – The forum of the Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace and Reconciliation. My mother spoke German and Hebrew; I speak Hebrew and German; Sybille speaks German and Hebrew; Kristina speaks German and Arabic; Hanna speaks German; Hebrew and Arabic; Suheir talks Arabic and English. We all speak English and we are able to communicate, via words; via sentences; via drawings; via art; via good intentions, since we are human and we intend to continue and remain human. Whether we are a black and white zebra or a white one and a black, we are, all, zebras and this can overcome any differences; any conflicts; any unmatched narratives; any life and death issues, as long as we are compassionate; generous and sane. The blacks and the whites can build a bridge, for free passage, as suggested by Dario from Mexico; The black and white doves, each can carry the olive leaf as Ares from Cuba suggested; and the tears of a Palestinian mother are merging with the tears of the Israeli mother, to one flood of sorrow and pain, as depicted by Liza Donnelly from the USA. Here are, also, the Israeli and Palestinian pregnant mothers who toast with their bellies "for peace", as envisioned by Ramize Erer from Turkey.
Ramize Erer from Turkey
This is the essence of the exhibition. And there are the students from the two high school classes, who attended the two discussions, at two mornings, about the Parent's Circle, and cooperated in expressing their impressions and understandings, of the cartoons, by conveying impressive insights to conflicts in general and at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular. Actually, this was of course one of the highlights of the exhibition realizing, on the one hand, the power of these cartoons, and on the other sharing, the intellectual maturity of the 15-16 old boys and girls in front of a specific cartoon- a visual and verbal expose' of the conflict. Cheers to Sybille and Kristina!!
It should be mentioned that the fact that the exhibition, has taken place in the entrance lobby of the Hamburger Rathaus (the municipality of Hamburg), provided a most respected environment, and of course a most accessible venue. Lots of visitors are arriving at the Rathaus, and they wouldn't have been exposed to the exhibition and to the unique Israeli-Palestinian organization, if it would have taken place in any of the museums in the city. This was a brilliant idea and the set up was perfect. Chapeau! Mrs. Karin Koop and her companions from the legislature.
Cartoons in Conflict at the entrance lobby of the Hamburger Rathaus
The Reconciliation week, initiated and carried out by Hanna was a most appropriate complement to the exhibition (or vice versa). The three events- the lecture/presentation of the PCFF, by me and Suheir, and moderated by Hanna; The Panel " Forgive and Forget"- Reconciliation in Judaism; Christianity and Islam with Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild; Imam Abu Ahmed Yakobi and Pastor Hanna Lehming and the Meeting and Discussion with Muslims and the Commission "Dialog with the Muslim Community of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Hamburg (ACKH), were all most interesting as well as educational.
At all of these three events, the PCFF shined as a ray of hope and solidarity in the troubled world of conflicts; racism; hatred and interreligious animosity. The panel discussion, on the three religions and their attitude towards reconciliation, brought forward the differences, among these religions, with respect to reconciliation.
According to Pastor Lehming reconciliation, in the Christian faith, implies – Healing of Wounds- physical as well as mental. Christianity does consider the question of pursuing justice to be of secondary importance. It invites, the believer, to take the first step, in the process of reconciliation, disregarding the realization of justice. Islam teaches that human nature is good and not bad, but mankind did not achieve finesse, i.e., there is still some leverage for people to select wrong sides. This means that there are options for fine tuning, i.e., reconciliation is a valid option. The Rabbi suggested, that the act of reconciliation requires, in Judaism, compensation. Feeling sorry is not enough. It is not sufficient to silence your conscience but you have to work hard in order to change the world. Just as the Imam mentioned- humans need, also, their evil nature. We cannot discard it but we should control it. (This is some of my understandings from this, in depth, discussion. I am, definitely, not sure that I really understood the messages, not to mention the question, whether I succeeded to reconstruct them). My contribution to this discussion was the question to explain us, that if religions are so keen towards reconciliation, how come that many orthodox believers, among all three faiths, are usually the more extreme ones with respect to revenge and punishment.
The meeting in the Turkish mosque, with some of the Muslim leaders and the members of the dialog group between Christian and Muslims, was an experience by itself. The warmth we were welcomed; the encouragement we received and the appreciation, for our joint work (Israeli and Palestinian), was extraordinary. The conclusion, which was stated by the hosts, that all their suspicions and uneasiness before the meeting has proven wrong, is the most convincing evidence for the necessity of future encounters of this kind.
Finally, let me make a short statement on friendships and mutual tolerance. The two of us, Suheir and I, represent two extremes, within the Peace Corps of Israel and Palestine. I am a quite old and a veteran of peace activities; Suheir, is a young, charming girl, who is just starting her Peace activities. She is a Palestinian, living in an occupied village in Palestine. She looks into the future and probably believes that her future will be much better than her present and her past memories. I am living in a well to do, suburb of Tel Aviv, with not much future left, and with an overwhelming Past of wars and bereavement. But I also believe that the future holds some hope and better promises. We seemed to be an odd couple. She is religious; I am secular. She is 22 years old; I am at the age of 75. We developed trust, one in each other and that's, I believe, made it possible to convince our varying audience, in Hamburg, that we really are messengers of peace.
Last, but not least, I learned to know wonderful people, here in Hamburg, mainly women, who believe in the cause of Peace and Reconciliation, among Israelis and Palestinians. I felt good with them. I want to believe that the feeling of friendship is not an illusion, but will last for some time into the future. I don't understand exactly, what really happened there. How come that there exist, almost, no substances of mistrust; no feelings of hatred; probably, no difference in the interpretation of the past. Isn't THIS reconciliation? We can be friends! We are FRIENDS.
And just for the fun of it, enclosed is something of a different kind.
AN IRISHMAN PHILOSOPHY
There are only two things to worry about
Either you are well or you are sick
If you are well
Then there is nothing to worry about
But if you are sick
There are only two things to worry about
Either you will get well
Or you will die
If you get well
There is nothing to worry about
But if you die
There are only two things to worry about
Either you will go to heaven or to hell
If you go to heaven there is nothing to worry about
But if you go to hell
You’ll be so dam so busy shaking hands with friends
You won’t have time to worry