Around 300 people at three events over the past week have heard two peace activists – one Israeli and one Palestinian – speak about their hopes for reconciliation.
Palestinian Ruba Huleihel and Israeli Michal Katoshevsky were speaking at ‘Invest in Peace’, a joint initiative between the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, with the endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, which invites Christians and Jews to support Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding.
Both speakers talked about their family backgrounds, their childhoods in Israel / Palestine, and how they each came to be peace activists. They answered questions from the audience about topics such as a two-state solution, the history of the region, and education.
Ruba said: “When I lose hope that a solution will be found, I remember the people who inspire me, and that gives me hope again.”
Michal said: “There is no way that I can lose hope – I want to live in a land where everybody has safety and security.”
The events were attended by the Mayor of Southampton Peter Baillie, Alan Whitehead MP for Southampton, the Mayor of Elmbridge, Mary Sheldon and Mayor of Bournemouth, Susan Phillips.
Board of Deputies Treasurer Stuart MacDonald said: “We’re proud to have initiated an Invest in Peace programme which presents challenging dialogues to packed and highly engaged meetings across the country. This is about helping to export peace and planting the seeds of reconciliation.”
The Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, said: “With so much violence, hatred and suspicion in the world, there is a critical need for different faith groups to come together. Our message to extremists on all sides is simple: You will not divide us. This project delivers that message loud and clear.”
The events took place at Kingston Liberal Synagogue, Avenue St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, and Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation. Each event is jointly hosted by a church-synagogue partnership.
Photo: Left to right: Professor Tim Sluckin from Southampton Hebrew Congregation, Board of Deputies Treasurer Stuart MacDonald, Peter Baillie MP, Ruba Huleihel, Michal Katoshevsky, Laurence Conneely from Solutions Not Sides, Revd Sarah Hall, Avenue St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Professor Claire Le Foll from the Parks Institute, University of Southampton