Dear Friends and Supporters of Ein Bustan,
For the past few weeks now it has become clear to me that I should write a few things, and explain my outlook and perceptions. Many of my personal friends, as well as friends of the "Ein Bustan" kindergarten throughout the world, are wondering about recent events and how it has affected us. How is a war such as that which took place between Israel and Hamas possible? Who cooperates with and supports such a war? What are Ein Bustan members busy with during this period and how do they feel? And how are the children, parents and teachers? I am setting forth here my own personal thoughts, and formally I represent no one but myself. However, it is possible that my thoughts will illuminate matters, even if it is only to a certain extent, and awaken a sense of empathy among some of you.
First, regarding my position in regard to military actions: I do not believe in war; I do not believe in violence; I do not believe that there is no other choice. I do not believe that it is impossible to solve the conflict by peaceful means. I completely reject any use of arms or violence, and it goes without saying that I certainly reject military actions that target the civil population, women and children. I believe that there are many possibilities to explore before resorting to military action, and in any case – it is impossible to escape from the cycle of violence without significant restraint.
I am well aware of the suffering of my Israeli brothers that live in towns and settlements near the border, and pray for their well-being and for them to have serene and pleasant lives. I am also conscious of the suffering of our brothers in Gaza, whose lives have become an ongoing nightmare: any hope that they retained for quiet and peaceful lives was utterly bombed and destroyed. I pray for the renewal of hope in their hearts, for a life of quiet, speedy and full recovery, and eventually – for the well being and prosperity of both peoples.
I painfully observe the violent and sometimes animal-like mood that has taken over my brothers on both sides, and I find that I feel stronger in my position. There is no doubt that the conflict has resulted in many lives, but we have no idea how great the damage is to the spirit! The situation seems so hopeless, that it seems like we are at rock bottom, and things cannot possibly get worse. But paradoxically, this situation can lead to optimism. I voiced this spirit in one of my songs: "Everything has already happened/I have missed it all anyway/but from the nothing that remains in my hand/anything is still possible" (from "Life Starts Now", Amir Shlomian). It is at times like the present that I do all I can to bolster this optimism, and this is what prompts me to action. I must continue to do that which I consider to be right, just more precisely, and without wasting any time or energy. Maximum focus and effectiveness are necessary now.
I'd like to add something about reference groups and the identity of the individual. According to my model, which continues to be reinforced with each additional year that the Ein Bustan kindergarten exists, a person has only one identity. This identity may be more or less complex, but even if 5 drinks are poured into the glass of identity - it will still constitute only one whole cocktail. However - the glass of identity is greatly influenced by what the parents of the child pour into it. Therefore, if fear is a common visitor in the hearts of the parents, it is likely that the identity of the child will also be affected by this fear. If the parents make an intensive effort to confront the fears and resentments in their hearts, then the courage, responsibility and forces of action that will pour into the glass of identity will greatly influence the child. Personally, I see myself as an Israeli and as a Jew - however language, dress, holy books or holy customs do not characterize my primary reference group. The members of the group that I feel I belong to love life and love their fellow human beings, they exist everywhere in the world, and they speak many diverse languages. They are my brothers and sisters that will never choose war or pick up weapons, and they will do all that they can to prevent violence.
At times, I feel the anger and pain welling up inside of me, and I search for assorted ways to express myself. The forces of consciousness that are required from both sides in order to make change possible are enormous. During the current period of my life, I regard my mission as one of consciously transforming the fears and resentments of each side. I believe in the power of art to awaken the necessary changes, and specifically, that of the art of education.
In the aftermath of the war, we initiated two listening circles in Ein Bustan: one for the children’s parents, and another for the teaching staff. These circles strengthened our feelings of partnership and mutual support, and enabled us to channel off our negative feelings.
Within the framework of our continued efforts to establish a joint Arab-Jewish first grade class, which will be the first of its kind, we are in ongoing consultation with the “Shaked” Waldorf school in Kiryat Tivon. A Hebrew-speaking teacher has already expressed his willingness to teach such a class, and three Arabic-speaking teachers have already submitted their candidacy. I was invited to present our plans to the school’s central parents’ committee, and I feel that there is support for our ideas. We have already held the meeting for parents from the kindergarten whose children are due to enter first grade next year. Soon I will be meeting with the teaching staff in Shaked in order to prepare the subject of the mixed class for a wider discussion within the Shaked “collegium” (Waldorf teacher management committee).
The latest difficult events have caused many people to adopt more extreme positions.
We are doing everything we can to create a conscious process whereby positive action in the world replaces the negative energy of anger and fear. It is quite clear that we have much difficult work laid out before us, however, as long as I may continue to do my work, I bless and thank God daily, Nushkur Allah. Thank you for reading this.
Translated by Rachel Gottlieb