“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~Albert Einstein

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~Buddha

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” ~Jewish Psalm 34

“In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful: Praise be to the Lord of the Universe
who has created us and made us into tribes and nations that we may know each other,
not that we may despise each other.
If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in God,
for the Lord is one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them, we say, Peace.” ~Islamic Prayer for Peace

“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” ~Thomas Merton

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” ~Jesus

“Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real.
Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.
Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.
Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing.
May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and plants bring peace to all.
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.
May the Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world.
May all things be a source of peace to us.
And may thy peace itself bestow peace on all and may that peace come to me also. ~Hindu Prayer

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~Jesus

“Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act, and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.” ~Sufi Prayer


The Traditional Way of Making Peace in the Middle East


Sulha is the traditional Middle Eastern resolution process. The root of the name comes from ‘Sulh’ – which means peacemaking in Arabic and sounds very similar to ‘Sliha’ – the Hebrew word for forgiveness. The Sulha process predates Islam by about 400 years and is practiced in various ways today across the Middle East; in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, the Arabian Peninsula and in many other Muslim countries.

Sulha is unique in that it provides an accepted and practiced platform for transitioning from revenge to forgiveness. This practice recognizes and utilizes local cultural elements and is a relevant form of peacemaking and conflict management at the family, clan, tribal and village level. Sulha may also have relevance to broader conflict resolution/management efforts, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the conflict in Iraq and other disputes in the Middle East.

When the second Intifada erupted in the year 2000 in Israel and Palestine, Gabriel Meyer Halevy couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. The son of socially-aware parents and leaders in their own community, he was moved to act. His father Rabbi T. Marshal Meyer was a community builder and an human rights activist in Argentina during the Dirty War in the 1970s, and Gabriel grew up absorbing the importance of shared responsibility for humanity demonstrated by his parents.

Involvement in cross-cultural projects and a deep interfaith understanding inspired Gabriel’s journey as a world traveller, poet, musician and peacemaker. In the late 1990s he participated in an interfaith Palestinian/Israeli tour in the USA, culminating in the UN Millennium Spiritual Summit, The Peace Vigil in the old city of Jerusalem and at the interfaith International Peacemaker Community encounter in Tantur Monastery (Jerusalem, 2000) where the first seed vision of On the Way to Sulha was born.

Violence was erupting all over the Middle East and because Gabriel lived in the Galilee region, it was only natural that the journey would start close to home. He reached out to peacemaking elder Elias Jabbour, founder of The House of Hope in Shefar’am and author of the book Sulha – Towards a Palestinian Way of Peacemaking. Elias is the son of Jabbour Jabbour, well respected Sulha mediator, Galilean elder and mayor of Shefaram for many years.

Gabriel visited Elias at his home in Shefar’am; they connected right away, sharing stories, prayers and songs. This meeting gave birth to the first Sulha Day gathering in 2001. Gabriel recalls, “We celebrated Chanukkah, Christmas, and Ramadan… it was a deep and heartfelt encounter. We Jews cooked the ‘iftar’ breakfast meal of Ramadan and Christian and Muslim Arabs lit our ‘Chanukkah’ candles after a moving listening circle that lasted the whole day.”

On the Way to Sulha continued to grow from the ground up and inspired many others to form further peacemaking initiatives, fueled by faith and a passion for overcoming the challenges and bridging the abyss of animosity. It provided a meeting place for many thousands of people from all walks of life. Religious and community leaders, artists and activists could all meet, share and learn from one another in an environment where people of different beliefs, cultures and traditions listen to each other, address destructive stereotypes and defenses and establish constructive dialogues.

On the Way to Sulha is an example of how real people can make a difference and be agents of change. In Gabriel’s words, “surprise reality until it changes”. Ideas and visions do manifest through people’s work and their devotion and passion.

I was part of many of the On the Way to Sulha gatherings and toured with Gabriel for several years, sharing and spreading the message of On the Way to Sulha through our Amen concerts and workshops. I believe we can all take part in changing reality and the world we live in when we let go of fear and follow our calling. I remember Gabriel telling me that his vision included speaking with the Dalai Lama. It seemed only natural, years later, when On the Way to Sulha received a private audience with His Holiness.

Inspiration never stops and since 2007 Gabriel has continued on his unique path and working with Iranians-Israelis and internationals in the mountains of Turkey, up until 2011. He is a living bridge between Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Lebanese, and Sudanese in Sinai, especially since the Arab spring. Through his music he expresses the renewal of the pluralistic Hebrew spirituality in Israel, and has been facilitating teaching presentations for over 20 years. In the last year Gabriel’s Peace work has mainly been through The Human Project in South Africa, U.S.A, South America and Israel, as a musician and cross – cultural bridge builder, and in the vision camp “We refuse to be Enemies” birthing new initiatives, in the midst of the bombs and Gaza war. Here is one man that inspires a change for many, not letting the fear of the other to rule the world.

This excerpt from the writings of Elias Jabour articulates the peacemakers’ challenge and how to overcome it:

“It is by way of truth that we have any hope of life free from the fears born of our inhumanity to each other. The way by which I hold my enemy down, keeps me down as well. Peace cannot, however, be made apart from the human willingness to let it happen – a willingness, I might add, that will not take place until we learn to forgive the hurt we have suffered or been a part of and accept losses however horrendous. That can never happen apart from a change of heart prompted by our awareness that where there is no justice, peace is far from our grasp. And where there is no forgiveness, justice too is beyond reach. The lesson of our day is undeniably costly. The question of our day is why should we keep paying and never learn?”

Be a peacemaker and join the growing community of peacemakers in the Middle East and all over the world.

The Traditional Way of Making Peace in the Middle East

Interfaith: One World Many Paths

“Peace among religions is a precondition for world peace.” ~Swami Agnivesh

“Saying that there is only one right religion is like saying there is only one right language.” ~John Edwards

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him/her.” ~1 John 4:16

“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.” ~Kofi Annan

“We who have been born Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or any other faith can be very comfortable in each others temple’s, mosques, and churches, praying or meditating together to create a spiritual mass of consciousness which can overcome our greed, hatred, and illusions.” ~Ari Ariyaratne

Regardless of my spiritual beliefs or my religion…peace begins with me.

Interfaith: One World Many Paths

14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Living Peace: A Gift for 2015 From the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
by Jonathan Granoff

The Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Laureate Organizations, gathered in Rome for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates from 12 – 14 December, 2014.

Violence, war, catastrophes, and the personal affairs of celebrities pass for news these days, but we need more than that. In troubled times like these, the counsel of the wise among us deserve our attention.

Last month, in the magnificent, Michelangelo-designed plaza in Rome’s famed Campodiglio palace, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates convened, issuing forth sagacious advice that is truly a New Year’s gift to the world, something worthy of study and practice by every nation –and each of us, individually, as well. It is titled, “Living Peace.”

Much of their statement addresses the public policy of nations, but it also compels us, on an individual level, “to car(e) for others with kindness and compassion,” the very embodiment of change that in turn makes us “able to make changes for peace in the world.”

This was the 14th such gathering of these world visionaries, who were first convened in 1999, inspired by the vision of their fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, President Mikhail Gorbachev. Since then, Nobel Peace Laureates and Laureate organizations have been holding the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, a global platform where discussions regarding critical issues have resulted in short substantive Final Statements.

The 2014 gathering was originally scheduled to take place in October in South Africa, and would have been the first summit of its kind in Africa, but the government, bowing to Chinese pressure, refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Laureate, to attend the conference, despite the direct appeal of fourteen other Laureates to South African President Jacob Zuma. In response, the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the official organizer of the event, appropriately suspended the Summit in South Africa and promptly organized an outstanding event in Rome. Thousands of university students attended plenaries and working groups with Laureates. At the closing session of the Summit, Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta announced that his city would host the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in November 2015.

In addition to challenging the world’s nations to work more effectively for peace, the Laureates share inspiring advice to each of us: “No matter what nations do, every individual can make a difference… we must never ignore the most important place where peace must be alive — within the heart of each one of us. It is from that place that everything, even nations, can be changed for the good.”

Read the entirety of the Nobel Peace Laureate Final Declaration below.

Final Statement

Nothing is as antagonistic to peace as the human mind without love, compassion, and reverence for life and nature. Nothing is as noble as the human being who chooses to bring love and compassion into action.

This year we honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He exemplified the principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize is granted and serves as a timeless example of a truth he lived. As he himself said: “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

He had many reasons to give up hope, even to hate, but he chose love in action. It is a choice we can all make.

We are saddened by the fact that we were not able to honor Nelson Mandela and his fellow Peace Laureates in Cape Town this year because of the refusal of the South African government to grant a visa to H.H. the Dalai Lama to enable him to attend the planned Summit in Cape Town. The 14th Summit, which was moved to Rome, has nevertheless permitted us to consider South Africa’s unique experience in showing that even the most intractable disputes can be resolved peacefully through civic activism and negotiation.

As Nobel Peace Laureates we bear witness that – as has happened in South Africa during the past 25 years – change for the common good can be achieved. Many of us have faced guns and overcome fear with a commitment to live with and for peace.

Peace thrives where governance protects the vulnerable, where the rule of law brings justice and the treasure of human rights, where harmony with the natural world is achieved, and where the benefits of tolerance and diversity are fully realized.

Violence has many faces: prejudice and fanaticism, racism and xenophobia, ignorance and shortsightedness, injustice, gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity, oppression of women and children, forced labor and slavery, terrorism, and war.

Many people feel powerless and suffer in cynicism, selfishness, and apathy. There is a cure: when individuals commit to caring for others with kindness and compassion, they change and they are able to make changes for peace in the world.

It is a universal personal rule: We must treat others as we wish to be treated. Nations, also, must treat other nations as they wish to be treated. When they don’t, chaos and violence follow. When they do, stability and peace are obtained.

We decry the continued reliance on violence as a primary means of addressing differences. There are no military solutions to Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Kashmir and other conflicts. One of the greatest threats to peace is the continuing view of some great powers that they can achieve their goals through military force. This perspective is creating new crisis today. If left unchecked this tendency will inevitably lead to increased military confrontation and to a new more dangerous Cold War. We are gravely concerned about the danger of war – including nuclear war – between large states. This threat is now greater than at any time since the Cold War. We urge your attention to the annexed letter from President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Militarism has cost the world over 1.7 trillion dollars this past year. It deprives the poor of urgently needed resources for development and protection of the earth’s ecosystem and adds to the likelihood of war with all its attendant suffering.

No creed, no religious belief should be perverted to justify gross violations of human rights or the abuse of women and children. Terrorists are terrorists. Fanaticism in the guise of religion will be more easily contained and eliminated when justice is pursued for the poor, and when diplomacy and cooperation are practiced amongst the most powerful nations.

10,000,000 people are stateless today. We support the campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to end statelessness within ten years as well as its efforts to alleviate the suffering of over 50,000,000 displaced persons.

The current wave of violence against women and girls and the perpetration of sexual violence in conflict by armed groups and military regimes further violates women’s human rights, and makes it impossible for them to realize their goals of education, freedom of movement, peace and justice. We call for full implementation of all UN resolutions addressing women, peace and security and political will by national governments to do so.

Protecting Global Commons
No nation can be secure when the climate, oceans, and rainforests are at risk. Climate change is already leading to radical changes in food production, extreme events, rising sea levels, the intensity of weather patterns, and is increasing the likelihood of pandemics.
We call for a strong international agreement to protect the climate in Paris in 2015.
Poverty and Sustainable Development

It is unacceptable that over 2 billion people live on less than $2.00 per day. Countries must adopt well-known practical solutions to eliminate the injustice of poverty. They must support the successful completion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We urge adoption of the recommendations of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.

A first step to ending the oppression of dictatorships would be the rejection by banks of money arising from their corruption as well as constraints on their travel.

The rights of children must become part of every government’s agenda. We call for universal ratification and application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The widening jobs gap needs to be, and can be, bridged and credible action must be undertaken to give the millions of new labor market entrants a viable job. An effective social floor can be designed in every country to eliminate the worst forms of deprivation. People need to be empowered to claim their social and democratic rights and achieve sufficient control over their own destinies.

Nuclear Disarmament
There are over 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. As the recent 3rd International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluded: the impact of the use of just one is unacceptable. A mere 100 would lower the earth’s temperature by over 1 degree Celsius for at least ten years, causing massive disruption of global food production and putting 2 billion people at risk of starvation. If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be for naught. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Meeting in Rome, we commend Pope Francis’ recent call for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”. We welcome the pledge by the Austrian government “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice. Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

Conventional Weapons
We support the call for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) – weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention. We must prevent this new form of inhumane warfare. We urge an immediate halt to the use of indiscriminate weapons and call on all states to join and fully comply with the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We commend the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and urge all states to join the Treaty.

Our Call
We call upon religious, business, civic leaders, parliaments and all persons of good will to work with us to realize these principles and polices. Human values that honor life, human rights and security, are needed more than ever to guide nations. No matter what nations do every individual can make a difference. Nelson Mandela lived peace from a lonely jail cell, reminding us that we must never ignore the most important place where peace must be alive — within the heart of each one of us. It is from that place that everything, even nations, can be changed for the good.

We urge wide distribution and study of the Charter for A World Without Violence adopted by the 8th Nobel Peace Laureate Summit in Rome 2007.

Attached letter from former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev who was unable to attend the Summit due to health concerns:

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Letter to Participants in the Nobel Laureates Forum

Dear friends,

I am very sorry I am unable to participate in our meeting but also happy that, true to our common tradition, you have gathered in Rome to make the voice of Nobel Laureates heard around the world.

Today, I feel great concern at the state of European and world affairs.

The world is going through a time of troubles. The conflict that has flared up in Europe is threatening its stability and undermining its capacity to play a positive role in the world. The events in the Middle East are taking an increasingly dangerous turn. There are smoldering or potential conflicts in other regions as well while the growing global challenges of security, poverty and environmental decay are not being properly addressed.

Policy-makers are not responding to the new realities of the global world. We have been witnessing a catastrophic loss of trust in international relations. Judging by statements of representatives of major powers, they are preparing for a long-term confrontation.

We must do all we can to reverse these dangerous trends. We need new, substantive ideas and proposals that would help the current generation of political leaders to overcome the severe crisis of international relations, restore normal dialogue, and create the institutions and mechanisms that fit the needs of today’s world.

I have recently put forward proposals that could help step back from the brink of a new cold war and begin restoring trust in international affairs. In essence, I propose the following:

•to finally start implementing the Minsk Agreements for resolving the Ukrainian crisis;
•to reduce the intensity of polemics and mutual accusations;
•to agree on steps to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe and rebuild the regions affected by the conflict;
•to hold negotiations on strengthening the institutions and mechanisms of security in Europe;
•to re-energize common efforts to address global challenges and threats.

I am convinced that each Nobel Laureate can make a contribution to overcoming the current dangerous situation and returning to the path of peace and cooperation.

I wish you success and hope for to see you.

See the complete article here:

14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

One Day

“One Day”

Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I’m breathing
Then I pray
Don’t take me soon
‘Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

It’s not about
Win or lose
Because we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging

In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy but don’t let it faze you no way (no way)

Sometimes in my tears I drown (I drown)
But I never let it get me down (get me down)
So when negativity surrounds (surrounds)
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate

One day we’ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
One day

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

One Day


I’ve been thinking, feeling and praying “coexistence” these most recent days…my personal response to so much ignorance, fear and hate surrounding me. Faithful followers, please pray for peace… pray for peace that MUST begin with each and every one of us! Politicians do not make peace… we do.

I had the opportunity last evening to attend the opening of the Annual Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival. Eleven award-winning films over two weeks; a warm welcoming Jewish community of fellowship and acceptance even though I am not Jewish and complimentary tickets from new friends…it doesn’t take much to keep this interfaith minister happy. I am honored and thrilled to participate and listen to the kind of thoughtful discussion that most definitely makes film festivals excellent adventures.

The opening film viewed by more than 300 in attendance was Jerusalem, a National Geographic Entertainment move filmed in 3D IMAX.

I guess I knew this going into the theater… but like so much of learning… I didn’t fully realize its implications.

So here’s the deal: Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest and most enigmatic cities. Literally, this tiny place is geographically situated at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and The East. It’s been been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over more than 5,000 years. It’s enduring will to live and its message of hope is extraordinary. Other than having its own pure source of underground water in a barren desert, what keeps this place alive?

Literally within the confines of just 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi), the Old City thrives within the bustling modern city of Jerusalem. Indeed, it’s an absolutely central city to all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem surrounds hugely important religious sites: the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Christians.

Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1981, traditionally, the Old City is roughly divided into four uneven quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Largest populations are found in the Islamic and Christian quarters – all surrounded by Jews.

What’s so extraordinary is that within the City of Jerusalem three separate and distinct religious cultures with complicated and volatile histories coexist.

From the film’s commentary:

“It is easy to understand why Jerusalem has so often been the site of armed conflicts over the centuries. Temples have been torn down only to be rebuilt as pagan shrines or churches. Churches have been burnt down. Mosques have been converted into churches. There have been 118 conflicts in and for Jerusalem over the past 4,000 years. Jerusalem has been conquered 44 times. It has been besieged 23 times, completely destroyed twice and has seen 11 transfers from one religion to another. It has only changed hands peacefully twice.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims have plenty to be angry about. We could hold grudges across the centuries. Yet, our calling is toward love, to be neighbors. Muslim rulers like Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent permitted worship of all religions in Jerusalem. They were good neighbors. The city has seen periods of reigns marked by intolerance and injustice followed by periods of peace and prosperity. Diversity has distinguished Jerusalem across the centuries and even today. The four major quarters of the Old City — Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian — reflect the rich history and the deep love that each community feels for Jerusalem.”

The film strengthen my commitment to hope, (the fundamental mission of my ministry) and my resolve to live and study in Jerusalem soon. I have much to learn there.

Jerusalem is a stunningly beautiful film that delivers a profound message of religious tolerance and coexistence. Consider taking the opportunity to see it.