A year ago, James wrote an article on Green Prophet about a unique organization known as the Sulha Peace Project and its role in reconciliation among peoples of different religious faiths and cultures, which is what the word sulha or reconciliation in Arabic is supposed to be about.
The Sulha Peace Project was founded in the year 2000 in the aftermath of the beginning of the Second or Al Aqsa Intifada, with the hope to find some positive ways to bring people together, including those at variance with each other (Israelis and Palestinians, in particular) in order to acquire a better understanding of issues that separate people – and to help find solutions to achieve tolerance to live together as fellow human beings.
This led to the first Sulha gathering in the late fall of 2001, which occurred coincidentally during the time and period leading up to three important interfaith religious holidays: Ramadan, Hanukah, and Christmas. Their environmental message is strong:The GP article tied the humanitarian goals of the Sulha Peace Project with those of preserving and protecting the environment which included lectures and workshops on making and using bio fuels, ways in which Bedouin and similar peoples have practiced ecology in their daily life styles; and perhaps the most important aspect: how to rise up above human greed and “show love and care for everything else as we show love and care for ourselves” – i.e. the Golden Rule.
Environmental topics are interwoven into these gatherings, which also include shorter one day gatherings, such as the recent Encounter held on July 23rd between members of the Israeli Sulha Family and the Palestinian peace organization Al-Tariq (The Way) at Neve Shalom (Wahat al-Salaam in Arabic) which means Oasis of Peace .
But the most important environmental message that comes from NGO’s such as the Sulha Peace Project is to try to create a better human environment among peoples whose differences and religious teachings often conflict with being able to live together as one world family.
Although the main “environment” relates to problems faced by Jews and Arabs (particularly Jews and Muslims) in coexisting together, it also pertains to peoples of all religious faiths finding common grounds though dialogue and understanding of the various issues that often keep people apart from each other.
This year’s Sulha annual gathering will take place sometime in the fall (it was changed from the usual end summer venue for logistical reasons) and more information about it will be forthcoming on their website www.sulha.com .
Taking everything into account, it appears very clear that in order to deal with problems relating to the natural environment, we must first take care of those involving the environment of human relations. Perhaps this “environment” is in reality the most important one of all.