School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: July2010
Peace and War

By Susannah

I was very touched when Ben Yeger, one of the great people on our apprenticeship, told me about Bassam Aramin, who is one of the founder members of Combatants for Peace. Bassam is a Palestinian man, who despite his personal losses (his 9 yr old Daughter was shot by an Israeli border policeman, unprovoked, on her way out of school) has become a passionate, heartful advocate for peace, through deep dialogue and engagement with the “other”.

Bassam spent 7 years in an Israeli prison during his teenage years as a result of his anger and violent demonstration against the occupation. Whilst in Prison, he saw a documentary about the holocaust in which he had a massive “ahhaaa!” and heart opening, as he understood why the Israelis behaved as they did, and understood that they were scared, and that what was needed from him was to help them see him, and understand that he was not a fearful monster, but another human being. As Ben spoke about Bassam I felt my own heart opening.

This July, Ben who is an Israeli ex combatant and the UK representative for CfP, has organised for 16 members of the movement to come to England, away from the pressures of the conflict and all it entails on both sides, for 10 days in which a space for dialogue, nourishment and reflection will be created.

During this time (21-30 July) there are four opportunities to witness the group’s work in the public realm and on behalf of Ben and CfP I warmly invite you to check out this link and come if you possibly can.

Some of the stories of the Combatants for Peace members are on the Forgiveness Project website as is Ben’s:

 A few weeks ago Ya’Acov and I were in Israel, offering our dancing version of the Pachamama “Awakening the Dreamer” symposium with a group of Israeli dancers at the surreally beautiful Adama centre in the desert.

 We arrived in the sticky heat outside Ben Gurion airport to a deluge of text messages about the “Marmara boat” incident. In the days that followed we witnessed again and again the speed and ease with which the forest fires of polarisation and blame can take hold. From both and all sides. What a fearsome dance. And what a vicious circle it binds us all in.

It’s a human thing, I know that well, when I feel threatened, when my adrenaline is ‘up’ I literally hear and see things differently. And so it seems. Whether one sees oneself or one’s country or one’s people as powerful or fragile depends on one’s perspective, one’s experience, one’s history and one’s story.

 My story is this. I have always seen myself as a bridge. Living in Kenya as a child- being English and having Irish and German boyfriends before meeting Ya’Acov my Jewish husband. Along with most of Europe probably, I feel the horror of the holocaust still resonating. When I was 19, I was on “The Walk to Moscow” a peace walk which originated in San Francisco and crossed the states, Eire, England, France, Belgium, Holland, W Germany (where I joined it)  Czechoslovakia, and Poland by foot. We intended to walk through RussiaAuschwitz. Cold shivers even now nearly 30 years later. When we were recently in Jerusalem, we went to the Holocaust museum and once again reeled with it. I picked up a book called ‘Hassidic tales of the Holocaust’ which has accompanied me ever since. Extra-ordinary and ordinary real human stories of courage and horror and strength and love which have illuminated more than any museum has done but were arrested and thrown out. The point was to cut through the poisonous rhetoric of the cold war and make human links across the political E-W divide. En route, we stopped for 3 days at

The first time I was in Israel I was talking with a young Jewish Israeli woman about our local (English) Steiner School, and how they send their 15 year olds every year to visit one of the concentration camp memorials as an essential part of their education. I was telling her of how the kids come back having wept their hearts out, held each other, mourned together, full of poetry and new awareness as they try to fathom this. As she heard that these young people wept and fainted at the gas chambers she wept too… “you mean, they are not even Jewish, and they care…. about us….??” . This was so beautiful and at the same time so shocking….. “you mean you feel so isolated and alone, as a Jew, as a people, that you are surprised that other people, other children, should care about your suffering?” I wanted to say.

 The first time that I ran my women’s workshop Sanctuary in Israel, when we invited the ancestors to dance, we were right back there. Two women supported each other as they danced for and with their mothers who had each survived the war. Later they found out that their mothers had lived on the same street in Warsaw. Arab Israeli women had a different dance with their mothers, honouring that history. The challenge seems to be to first find compassion for our own history, bringing mercy and healing to the wounds of our own ancestral lines, and then to extend this to compassionate empathy to others, to other “tribes” and to cross the toxic ghettoisation of separation. (see: Jeremy Rifkin - The Empathic Civilisation:

And that is a big “ask”. As Eva Moses Korr (who survived the Dr Mengele’s twin experiments in Auschwitz with her sister) says, she learned 3 things from her time there:

- And not to pre-judge people. That prejudice, quick judgment based on assumptions and generalizations, without real knowledge of the “other” is what allows the dehumanization of the ‘other’ which is a precondition of cold blooded violence and genocide. She talks with humility and humour about catching herself prejudging young men in a university campus in the US, with their “pants hanging down…. allowing light into parts which should never see the light of day….” And her assuming they were young thugs until one of them asked her if she needed help and she realised they were decent young men.

-that forgiveness is the power that no-one can take from you and that releases you from being a victim - never give up! Bambalela!

(For the DVD of Eva Mozes Kor speaking at a German Family Constellations Conference go to the DVD section of )

Wishing us all the courage to reach out beyond our images of each other and engage in the dialogue and listening that may help create peace, whatever the level of conflict we may find ourselves in.

And thanks to all those who work for peace, and wishing the Combatant’s for Peace group a healing and beautiful time in the UK, and many seeds of healing and inspiration planted for the future’s garden.

Susannah DK


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.