Ohood Enaia – Life in Palestine

I’ve met Ohood last year at the Transformation Thinkers Conference (Schlos Steinhöfel, close to Berlin) – where we shared some great experiences. Ohood is native Palestinian and lives close to Ramallah, West Bank. She is working as a manager at the Municipal Development and Lending Fund, a semi government institution, and responsible for strategic planning and extern relations dealing with local municipals. While we were in Berlin I connected Ohood with Dagmar Quentin who is deeply involved in the Cinema Jenin project – now both of them are working together on an eductaion program in Jenin. I was very happy to hear this!

“I am here to serve my people”, she says. No doubt Ohood is driven by deep intrinsic motivation.
In the following interview she gives us insights into daily life in Palestine and at the end we’ve had a brief discussion about 2stars4peace.

University for Life

During my latest travels through the Middle East I’ve visited Ben Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. Ben-Gurion University is a major center for teaching and research – more than 19,000 students are enrolled in the Faculties of Engineering Sciences, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management and the Kreitman School of Advanced Graduate Studies. It is a fun plale and you can feel that students really love being there.

Although our discussion with some BGU students on 2stars4peace turned out to be rather frustrating (more to come on this one), the campus walk was truly inspiring. Thanks again to Anne Berkeley who arranged everything for us!

What interested me most was the community department of BGU – a model each and every university in the world should look at and learn from! BGU is located in the south of Israel, in the Negev Desert. Poverty, unemployment, social problems are omnipresent. With its community program BGU is addressing these issues. Since 1976 the University’s Community Action Unit focuses its human and academic resources on the educational and social problems of the region – with some great results on both sides: Students get involved – whether by living in Open Apartments or participating in the Leadership Training Program – and making a difference for those who need it most.

In the following brief interview Vered Sarussi, Director of the community department, gives some brief insights on what is going on …

Update:

And here is an example what the students are doing:

Israel will Behave …

… says this Canadian-Egyptian man, who came back to Egypt 15 years. He is a construction engineer and joined the wiki revolution in Egypt on January 26 – a day after it started. While we were strolling over Tahrir Square yesterday he came and spoke to us.

His face and heart fully open and he was so HAPPY! Contagious;-)

In this interview he gives a very promising outlook on how the revolution will evolve and what the demands of the Egyptian people are …

And no doubt – he is very proud to be Egyptian!

When I asked him about the impacts of the Arabian revolutions on Israel he simply answered: Israel will behave!

What if the Mind prevails over the Heart?

I started this blogpost a few days ago, actually on our last day in Jordan.
Until then we’v met a lot of people with roots in Palestine – Jordan gives home to more than 2 million Palestinians, born in Jordan but their parents or grandparents came from Palestine. They themselves have never been home, they are NOT allowed to go there. Israel won’t let them enter. So they see their land, but can’t go! No wonder their feelings regarding Israel are very strong and emotional. And we could feel that. Deep down in their hearts there was nothing but hatred for Israelis, pure hatred. As it is part of their DNA.

So when we first told them about the 2stars4peace idea – they were more than surprised, very sceptical and most likely they thought we were nuts. All we harnessed was prompt rejection.
But as soon as we explained the idea and asked them at least to imagine what advantages would come along with it, they started to think. They were hesitating, reflective and finally had to admit YES, 2stars4peace might be a chance: better job options, economic growth, better eductaion, better health services, equal rights …

We were more than happy to see this happen. If you really get the chance to go beyond emotions and reach out to their minds – there is a chance to overcome hate!
But it is a tough job!
And there wasn’t more than a glimpse of hope …
But it is there! And from there we go …
And hopefully our thoughts will stay at least for a while with them.

The time is right for it!
Powered by the wiki revolutions in Agypt and Tunisia we had a very powerful idea: What if 1 million people Palestinians would march and cross the river Jordan?

I doubt that neither the Jordanians nor the Israelis would shoot!

Akrum, one of our conversation partners, felt in love with this idea … So why don’t YOU join the facebook group and make it happen?

Friday Prayers at Tharir Square in Cairo

Friday is the day for demonstrations and prayers at Tharir Square, Cairo. According to Mohamed ElGohary today it will be a celebration as well: Yesterday the Prime Minister appointed by Mubarak resigned – due to the pressure of the people – and Essam Sharaf took his place – a fact highly appreciated by the Egyptian people.

It is 11 am here in Cairo and people are gathering at Tahrir Square. The following video was shot by Hiroki Hashimura whom we met on our trip to Cairo. We are about to leave to Tharir Square in a moment too.

2stars4peace – Time to Re-Start

Tonight I will fly out to the Middle East. First stop Ammann, Jordan. Then travelling south, jumping on a ferry to Nuweibat Sinai, Egypt. Crossing Sinai and Suez Canel and heading on towards Cairo. Then Israel and Palestine. I am pretty excited to go there right now and to get a personal feeling of what’s going. It is always so different when you “see” things happening through other peoples eyes e.g. twitter and blogs.

I do have the feeling that people in the Arabic world started to write a new chapter in world history. What is happening NOW in various Arabic countries will affect us all. No doubt on this. And it will put pressure on the Israel-Palestine conflict – without a solution there no permanent peace will ever come to the region.

A bit longer than I year ago I interviewed Martine Rothblatt on her book “2stars4peace”. “Two Stars for Peace” is the name for a grassroots plan to solve the Middle East crisis by Palestine and Israel joining the U.S. as the 51st and 52nd states.

Listen to Martine what she says on her book:

Weired idea, isn’t it?
To me this kind of offbeat thinking is THE only way to achieve progress in peace making between Israel and Palestine.
The One- and the Two-State-Solution are stuck. And people don’t trust politicians no more.

And “Two Stars for Peace” is not just another American idea.
It is challenging US foreign policy as much as it is challenging the EU and Israel and Palestine.
It is a people kind of thing … a grassroot movement. 2stars4peace starts where politics usually end: with the citizens!

I am convinced that only the people can drive this change.
The people in Palestine, Israel, the people in the Arabic world AND the people in the US and EU!
The bigger the “WE” in this peace process becomes, the better the chances to succeed!
And this is why I am enagaged.

I do love the region down there, wonderful people, beautiful landscape.
It’s time for peace.
And WE all can help to achieve it!

And I invite you all to follow our trip and add comments and give advise …