Iran and Israel - my story
Back in 2004, I had a vision - a dream, if you will. I am a member of a group called the Rainbow Family (it's kind of a neo-hippie festival, you can google it, but that's not the point), and I had a vision that the Rainbow Family Gathering could happen in the Middle East - in a place where both Israelis and Iranians (and Syrians and Lebanese and Jordanians and in fact all the world) could come and gather together in peace.
I shared my dream at the council at the World Rainbow Family Gathering in Costa Rica (this is the council where it will be decided in which country the next World Rainbow Gathering would be). I said Turkey
(the country, not the bird).
A lot of people argued against me. A lot of people said I was crazy - they said you can't have a Rainbow Gathering in Turkey - Midnight Express,
Muslims, Military state... They said there is no way any Middle Eastern people would come. They said it would be a disaster and that there was no way Israelis would be able to be at a festival peacefully with Iranians.
At that time, I didn't personally know any Iranians, but I held my vision, I spoke my dream. And some people caught on. The council reached consensus, and the gathering happened.
I got myself to the Middle East, I walked my talk and went to Turkey to help find the place for the Gathering to be held. I spread the word, I promoted it. And I went there, with my baby daughter.
It was a beautiful place in the mountains of Southern Turkey. There was people from all over the world - Australians, Americans, Canadians, Germans, English, French, Italians, Turkish... about 40 countries were represented, in fact. And lots of Israelis. We all had fun, we sang songs and at food together and camped out.
And then one day, about a week into the month-long festival, a big truck drove right up to the main fire area - we ran over to ask the truck driver to leave, because Rainbow Gatherings are car-free zones; there's a car-parking area a short walk away, but we had problems with locals driving in all the time.
But before we could say anything about the truck being in what we feel is a sacred space, people started pouring out.Iranians.Twenty-one Iranians, men and women. They'd heard about the gathering and come together, caravanning all the way from Teheran.
They'd been travelling for a few days in trucks, and they'd brought a king's ransom of food to share (dried fruits and nuts from Iran, and spices to start a chai tent).
They poured out of that truck, and kissed the ground, and we crowded around them and hugged them, and cried "Welcome Home!" (because that's what you say to newly arriving people at Rainbow Gatherings.)And before I knew it, there was a mob of Israelis hugging Iranians hugging Israelis. And Germans. And Aussies, and Dutch and South Africans and Turks and Danes and Swiss... And we were all just people.
In the days that came, the Iranians set up a camp and started hosting parties and serving food and chai (in Rainbow Gatherings, everything is shared freely; there is no commerce). So many friendships were formed.
Someone called for a "talking circle" (basically a group meeting where people sit in a circle and take turns talking) to discuss Peace. It was mostly Israelis and Iranians that came. Virtually every one in that circle - Iranians and Israelis alike said the same thing:"I grew up thinking the others were evil people who just hate us and want to bomb us, and we only want peace, I had no idea that the others are people just like us, who also want peace."
So many tears were shed, so many hugs were shared, and so many deep friendships forged.
This was my vision, and it carries on today - the "Peace in the Middle East" Rainbow Family Gatherings are still happening every year, mostly in Turkey, and I now have many friends from Iran, and from Israel.
Let go of your politics, let go of fear, let go of assumptions and media scaremongering and hate. Let go of fear, and see that we are all just people who want Peace. #peace