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A rainbow in the holy land

Since the first construction of a wooden rainbow where people can play 1998 in Soweto, a new human rainbow has emerged that connects people from many countries. Jewish and Arab Israelis now belong to this rainbow too. The twelfth rainbow has been in Israel since this summer. Jerusalem, the place many wanted to visit, remained unreachable, so instead we built it in the hard and stony soil of Galilee. A place where small shoots of togetherness between Jews and Arabs can grow and the peace initiative are currently being tested to a severe level. One of these initiatives is the peace garden of Tilda and Amiram Goldin. After the senseless death of their son in a suicide bombing in a public bus, they built this garden as a starting point to a path of reconciliation. The bus had diverse mix of people from all community groups on board that are represented in Israel’s population.
The first time we all met was in October last year. We decided to support their initiative with our Rainbow Project. In June of this year everything was prepared – the container with the material and tools was underway, the flights for the participants from South Africa, Poland and Germany were booked. The Jewish and Arabic young people from Israel also got to know each other during a preparation weekend.
Then it broke out again – the unresolved conflict. Young people are kidnapped and killed, missiles were launched. Israel can intercept the missiles, but the people of Gaza cannot escape.

Our destination is Bustan Nof Meshutaf in Mitzpe Aviv, about 100 km north of Tel Aviv. Our partner Bustan Nof Meshutaf assures us that the situation there is “normal” and there is a great need to set an example for peace right now. We also want this and decide first of all to fly just as the management team. The parents are happy – the young people are disappointed. The situation is genuinely quiet. We start our preparations with a small group. Five days later the German and Polish young people arrive- then the group is complete.

It will become a good project. The 28 young people were mixed and divided into four families. The first group works on the rainbow. The labour is hard. The 30° C mark is reached in the early morning. Luckily from time to time there is a cloud in the sky and at least some wind. The second group works on small peace symbols made from tile mosaics. Each participant develops a symbol themselves and leaves it on one of the many stones in the peace garden. The third group is responsible for the food preparation and the fourth group is responsible to write a diary of the previous day, to prepare the evening program or to look after the increasing number of visitors to the garden.

Different religions play hardly any role during the project. The only prayer is in the form of minutes of silence for the victims of the war. The desire for peace for Israel and Palestine is omnipresent.

The opening is planned for the 25.7.2014 at 9 PM -after the breaking of the fast. Work continues right up to the last minute. It is the first opening of a rainbow at night with a very special atmosphere. Around 70 people accepted the invitation to the peace garden. There are impressive speeches from Pastor Rolf Martin, Klaus-Peter Gust, Amiram Goldin and the mayor of the region. Greetings from the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kirsten Fehrs the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Germany (Nordkirche) were read in public. Lu from South Africa, Michael from Poland, Johanna from Germany and Roy and Saja from Israel have prepared a joint statement for the young people. This statement transcends any separation. It comes from young people from ONE world.

“In the last two weeks we formed friendships – You can do this too.
We learned to accept differences – You can do this too.
We lived as a community – You can do this too.
We learned about ourselves and learned from each other – You can do this too.
We have the ability to share this little piece of land and to enjoy each and every moment together – That is why we are convinced that we can share this wonderful place and have a prosperous life in it.
We invite you to get to know each other, not tomorrow, next week or next year, but NOW.”

A reunion will be held next year in Germany as part of the Federal Garden Show. Then these or other participants will build a rainbow in Premnitz and continue to campaign further for peace in this world.
To learn more about this impressive project information can be obtained on the website of the Rainbow Project and on the blog of the Evangelical Church.

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