Moving Forward Together in Jerusalem

Fr. Josh Thomas —  March 15, 2016 — Leave a comment


Program Report: Friday, March 11th, 2016

Goal: Introduce the K4P community to sacred places in Jerusalem.  Understand the importance of Jerusalem for each faith tradition – and why the old city is a place of so much conflict.

Original Plan:
“Jerusalem 360” – Interfaith Walk through the Old City (rescheduled due to violence)

Revised Plan:
Dialogue for 30+ youth, parents and staff about daily life in Jerusalem, with guest facilitator Jay Rothman


IMG_0029We just finished our meeting today and I have to tell you that we feel the support and we are thankful that Kids4Peace is a real community where people feel safe and obligated to. We will continue to do our work inshala and will continue to inspire and be inspired.
– Mohammad, Co-Director


It is not easy to keep living in Jerusalem with the amount of daily violence. Everyday, our kids4peace staff must make decisions about our lives: should we go to the office? should we keep the meetings and risk our children, young adults and ourselves or not. Each day I have the question: does my peace work really deserve to risk my life? if anything will happen to me (and too many times I have seen/hear the violence) — do I really believe that my work was deserve this risk?  I admire our team.


I feel holiness each day to be next to them, to hear the stories of their daily lives and see how they risk themselves for creating change. Each staff meeting looks as both: a special unit military meeting, which deal with life/death decisions and also as a seminar lead by the Dali Lama, full with mindfulness, spirituality, compassion, love and care.
 – Yakir, Director of Dialogue to Action project.  



This morning we had a unique event of Kids4Peace, for parents, staff and children who decided to join together to deal, together, with the trauma of these days, to support each other and keep the work at homes, schools and in kids4peace for change and peace.

K4P children shared that they suffer at schools since they are youth for peace. Almost all of our staff had to deal with violence next to their eyes because of their decision to keep working in Kisd4Peace. We are all called with names – “traitors” is the most known.

We all lost friends and people we love because we demand to see the other side as humans too, since we demand from ourselves to feel their pain too (and not on the account of feeling the pain of our “natural” side). 

There was an attack close to my home in Jaffa. And we have a what’s up of the parents of my child’s kindergarten. I have sent a message about being ok, and no one answered. There are 35 people in this group and no one answered. And in K4P, always people write and care and call.

I feel there are two Jerusalems. In the Jewish one, no one really cares what is happening in the other side. You can live and not care and know what is happening a few miles next to you. Even during the shooting and stabbing I don’t talk about it.

I want to talk about feeling numbness. As an Arab, we are so using to hearing about shooting and stabbing and it sounds that the people are interchangeable. I was one of these people who just “heard about things.”  But 2 days ago, the shooting was next to the shop of my grandfather who is 80 years old. So, when it affects your family, it affects your personal feeling. I am so thankful for the meeting and have the place to express the feeling. I know that it will be taken in consideration that it is fragile, and I am thankful for feeling supported.

I had a bad experience at my school and class. My classmates had a debate with the teacher about the events from two days ago. We spoke about these crimes. But they didn’t even call it crimes – they supported the actions. The teacher called it a crime. I didn’t want to join the debate, since most people were against my opinion. The teacher closed the debate, since people were shouting.  So, I am glad to be here and to share my experience, and here I can express my feelings and make my hope stronger.

I was born at the heart of the old city in 1966. The place where I was born was called, Halti Sharaf. A few months after I was born the war of 67 happened, and it became part of the Jewish quarter. My parents and myself became refugees. And we got a place at Shuafat refugee camp, but when my parents saw the situation there, (and it is till today) they decided not to live there and they went to Siliwan.

And I grew up there as a refugee at this place in Silwan. Back then, as a child, I didn’t see the war, but my childhood was ok, but my school was at the old city, so I walked by the western wall and walked by the mosque (everything was open then) and went to my school. I have walked this way everyday. There was a monastery and we played there football and learned languages. Till they put walls.

Later, my father bought some land in Beit Haninah and we went there, but when the separation wall was built, our home was in Palestine, and it is all empty area and no one can live there because of the military.

The situation in Jerusalem has made everyone to lose the hope and dreams. I really want for real peace. Only then we can live together.



Fr. Josh Thomas


Executive Director (USA) of Kids4Peace International. Presbyter, The Episcopal Church.

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