by Yakir, DTA Project Director
Dialogue to Action (DTA), the new initiative of Kids4Peace International, was created in order to ensure that in addition to speaking and having dialogue, we area also actively working together to create real change on the ground. During the last several months, 12 participants from each of the three Abrahamic faiths, Palestinians and Israelis are creating change in their own lives, but furthermore they are demanding to walk together in the public sphere of Jerusalem, influencing a wider audience.
Today, 2 of the participants, Ahmed and Oren, decided to take the next step and begin their own project. After months of discussions and preparations they found a unique place, on a rooftop of the old city of Jerusalem, at the intersection of the Jewish, the Muslim and the Armenian quarters of the city. This roof is neglected – filled with garbage, drugs and security cameras. They decided to make their dream a reality and to make this unique corner of the roof a place for dialogue and meeting between Palestinians and Israelis. For their first step, they found some volunteers, a Jewish gardener, Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinians who care. After getting permission from the Palestinian owner of the roof, we went up to the roof with garbage bags and started cleaning. In the middle of this hot day. we were collecting history through the garbage, broken glass, and dust, and replacing it with seeds of love. On the roof we saw Ultra-Orthodox settlers walking around us, trying to understand why a group of Palestinians and Israelis are smiling together. From the Muslim windows I saw faces of people who have seen too much pain, wondering what will happen now.
But now Oren and Ahmed are already planning the next step. After getting permission, next week, a group of Graffiti artists, from both Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds, will come together to create graffiti for peace and tolerance. This will be only days before the Jerusalem national day, when hundreds of provocative and violent settlers will march in the Muslim quarter and will shout racist statements against Arabs and Islam. Our people hope that they will encounter this graffiti. Oren and Ahmed hope to use this location as a place where they can invite Jews, Christians and Muslims who want to live together to come to the roof, and to have dialogue and do change.
In addition to Ahmed and Oren, 5 of their friends will join, each contributing their knowledge and their activism. The rest of the group will be involved in other kinds of activism. Today, walking on the roof of the old city, I felt proud. I love these two young men so deeply, and I am worried. Last week one of the main Palestinian activists for peace was murdered by Palestinians and we all know that he will not be the last. I pray God to keep alive and safe my amazing Dialogue to Action angels.