I have the utmost respect for Dr Sarah Bernstein and the work of the Rossing Centre in Jerusalem. I attended The Healing Hatred Conference the Centre co-sponsored in July 2017. The following is part of an update I received on May 11.

'I am writing to you in the midst of escalating violence in the Holy Land. After several weeks of deteriorating relations marked by one-sided actions, the disproportionate use of force by the police and several brutal, racially motivated gang attacks, another explosion of violence threatens to engulf us all. Missiles are raining down on Israel and Gaza and violent demonstrations are increasing across the country to engulf us all. Missiles are raining down on Israel and Gaza and violent demonstrations are increasing across the country.

As an organisation that seeks to promote an inclusive society in the Holy Land based on the values of respect, equality and justice, we are deeply disturbed by recent events. Once again, extremist political leadership on both sides is exploiting the situation for their own power-hungry aims: whether to derail any attempt to form an alternative Israeli government or in a show of strength designed to garner support after the Palestinian elections were once again postponed.

This cycle of violence is not the way to resolve our conflicts and disputes. It only serves to exacerbate the situation and create more pain. Certain groups in this conflict want us to fear and oppose the diversity around us and view the ‘other’ as an eternal enemy. This ‘us’ verses ‘them’ mentality will only lead to more violence and intolerance, and will move us further away from sustainable peace.

We at the Rossing Center have a different vision for the future of the Holy Land. Even as the violence in Jerusalem was escalating, we hosted an Iftar dinner in Ramle. Jews, Christians, Muslims - Israeli and Palestinian residents of the city - attended an event at the Open House that communicated a completely different message to that playing out on the streets of Jerusalem. Together, people of different backgrounds celebrated difference and their commitment to shared society. By so doing they countered the narrative presented by intolerant groups around us.'

Photo: Rossing Centre

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