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An Attack Close to Home

Dear Friends,

On Monday, our friend Michal Froman was attacked by a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa. Thankfully, the pregnant Michal survived the stabbing, avoiding life-threatening injuries to herself and her unborn child.

The recent violent attacks in Israel/Palestine have been extremely troubling, further indicating that the ongoing struggle for Middle East peace remains woefully out-of-reach due to self-serving politics. But yesterday’s attack hit close to home for me, Tanenbaum and our Network of Peacemakers from around the world.

Ms. Froman is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, one of the first recipients of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action award. Rabbi Froman spent his life promoting reconciliation between Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents in the West Bank and Gaza. He envisioned a “humane state,” one in which all people — Jewish and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian — treat each other with respect and dignity. Rabbi Froman’s work brought many people together, including political leaders, and he perceived the conflict as a tragedy of “two peoples loving the same land.” By seeking the common ground of having a shared faith in God, his work often transcended politics and motivated his own work on a deeply spiritual level. Rabbi Froman dedicated most of his life to promoting reconciliation between Jewish settlers and Palestinian residents in the West Bank and Gaza.

So it was no surprise to hear the reports of Michal Froman recognizing her attacker’s humanity when describing the 15-year-old to police and the media. Her father-in-law surely would be proud and so are we.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

Gaza and Israel: Which Side is Tanenbaum on?

As the Israel-Gaza violence escalates, I get more and more inquires about the organization I lead, asking where Tanenbaum stands and calling on us to speak out. In a number of ways, albeit not always directly, we have tried to say that we are torn apart by the violence on both sides. But that is not enough. It is time to try to clarify, though I know that many will not be satisfied because they want Tanenbaum and me to take a side.

We do take a side – it is the side of life. And the pursuit of a more peaceful world where differences – including religious differences – can thrive.

That means that Tanenbaum unequivocally condemns the use and abuse of religion in the furtherance of violence and geo-political aims.

It means that we denounce the extremists on both sides, who fuel war, horrific violence and hate.

It means that we oppose the verbal violence and rhetoric, the stereotypes and the “othering” that makes the human beings on both sides seem less human.

It means that Tanenbaum abhors war and violence, and that our hearts ache for the victims on both sides.

We are watching a human catastrophe for which words fail. Real people live in Israel and Gaza– people like you and me, who simply want to live their lives. Instead, they are being brutalized.

We see the Palestinian mother who watched her child die from a bomb. And the Palestinian father who is unable to keep his family safe. They are real, and I cannot imagine their agony. So too, is the Israeli mother who buries her son. And the Jewish child in Israel, who knows that she is alive today, only because Hitler did not finish what he started. And who also knows that the constant rockets mean that some of her neighbors are dedicated to making sure Hitler’s plan for her is finally realized.

These men, women and children – the real victims on both sides – are why Tanenbaum works to combat the abuse of religion and the violence. They are why we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace for all.

This is where we stand. On the side of life. The death and devastation must stop.

July 15: A day of prayer and reflection to stop the violence and bloodshed

Before turning to the subject of this blog – the escalation of violence involving Israelis and Palestinians – I am painfully reminded that destructive and hate fueled violence is occurring in far too many places across our globe. So even as I focus on that flashpoint of the Middle East, I believe that we must simultaneously remember that every person experiencing war and violence is one of us. A human who is suffering. And a person who comes from a family and a community.

That said, I want to share something we recently learned, in case it resonates with you. There is a small Muslim/Jewish movement from Israel/Palestine that is calling on people to dedicate the Jewish fast day of 17 Tamuz (July 15), which coincides this year with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, as a day of prayer and reflection, focusing on stopping the horrible violence and bloodshed that is currently taking place in that land.

Our former colleague and friend, Rabbi Jonah Geffen, who shared this information with us said, “I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to gather our Muslim/Jewish/Christian sisters and brothers in prayer and reflection. Not politics. Simply focusing on peace through a joint day without food.”

We agree, but believe that this is a moment that people of all beliefs and none can share. A day of fasting, a day of committing ourselves to real solutions and an end to violence.

Sincerely,

Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO

P.S. If you are interested in taking part in the day, here is the the invitation that Rabbi Geffen found on Facebook:

ימי הצום בלוח העברי והמוסלמי מתאחדיםהזדמנות לעצור הכולבביתבעבודהבקהילה
להתכנס אל מול הדםהנקם והאימה למקום אחרלחשבון נפשללקיחת אחריותלתיקון
למפגש עם העצמי ועם האחרלשתוק ביחד ולדבר,
לבחור מחדש בחיים
מדובר ביוזמה משותפת של יהודים וערבים שתתקיים ב– 15 ביולייום שלישי הבאלשביתת רעב משותפת בת יום,כנגד האלימותבשעות אחהצ יתקיימו אירועים משותפים ברחבי הארץשל יהודים וערביםחילונים ודתיים,פלסטינים וישראליםשל דיבורלימוד ותפילהובסופם עם צאת הכוכבים יתקיים “איפטאר“- שבירת צום משותפת.
מוזמנים:
לשתףלצוםלקחת זמן לחשבון נפש וליזום אירוע ‘לבחור בחיים‘ באזור מגוריכם
שנזכה לתקן!

ايام الصيام حسب التواريخ الاسلامية والعبرية تلتقي.
فرصة لايقاف كل شيئفي البيتفي العملفي المجتمعللاتحاد معا ضد سفك الدماءضد الانتقام وضد الخوف والانتقال لمحاسبةالنفسلتحمل المسؤوليةلللتغيير والاصلاحللاجتماع مع النفس ومع الغيرللتكلم معا وللصمت معالاختيار الحياة من جديد.
الموضوع هو مشروع لقاء مشترك للعرب واليهود بتاريخ ١٥/٧ يوم الثلاثاء المقبللاضراب مشترك عن الطعام ليوم واحد ضد العنف.وفي ساعات ما بعد الظهيرة ستقام لقاءات مشتركه في انحاء البلادعرب ويهودعلمانيون ومتدينونفلسطينيين واسرائيليينللحوار,للتعلم وللصلاهوفي النهايه مع ساعات المغرب يكون افطار جماعي لكسر الصيام.
مدعوون بشكل شخصي.
الرجاء النشر.
صيام وحساب للنفس ومشروع مشترك “نختار الحياة” في مناطق سكنكم.

Days of fasting in the Jewish and Muslim calendar come together.
An opportunity to pause. At home. At work. In the community.
To come together in the face of blood, revenge and fear,
to a place of looking inwards, taking responsibility, and making a difference.
To meeting myself and the other, to be still and to talk to one another.
Another chance to choose life.
A joint Arab and Jewish initiative that will take place on July 15th, next Tuesday, of a mutual hunger strike against violence. All over the country joint events will take place in the afternoon, of Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, Israelis and Palestinians, to talk, learn and pray. At the end of the events, when the stars come out, an Iftar will take place, a mutual breaking of the fast.
We invite you to share, to fast, to look inwards and to initiate a “Choosing Life” event where you live.
May we make a difference!