Article by Lisa Talesnick and Dhyan Or

[Comments are welcome at our Dialogue Corner]

Tour of Peace

The All Nations Cafe has begun its Summer Caravan Season in Geneva, Switzerland with a Circassian dance performance at a local school. The teachers who came from different countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, were surprised by the two Jerusalemites crashing their party, nevertheless they enjoyed the show and offered us perfect hospitality.

Next stop: Lausanne, presenting the All Nations Cafe in a peace conference in front of a group of Palestinians, Israelis, Libyans, Jordanian, Lebanese, Yemenites, Americans, French, German and Swiss academics, thinkers and journalists. Our talk was dotted with video and music, and while showing a video of an Arabic music concert in our cafe in Jerusalem, the Libyan TV reporter started to sing. When the music became quicker, one of the organizers, a Palestinian lady living in Switzerland couldn't help herself but dance.

We then proceeded to open a one night cafe in Jeunotel in Lausanne, where an Israeli and Swiss chefs allowed us to use their hotel kitchen and restaurant to host an international group of conference participants as well as a school class of 13 year olds from St. Gallen in the north east of the country, who learned Circassian and Debka dances and taught us Swiss dancing in return.

Next stop: Basel, where we were perfectly taken care of by nuns from Katherina Werk, a community of service of the highest purpose, who had the courage to dance with us in front of the Saturday afternoon crowd in the old city. Dancing above the river Rhine, so close to the open borders between Germany, France and Switzerland, one couldn't help but imagine dancing on the river Jordan in front of the open borders between Syria, Jordan and Israel. Mark my words, that day is coming soon.

From Switzerland (which is not part of the European Union) through France and little Luxemburg to Brussels, the capital of Europe, where the European Council and Commission are located, and where immigrants from North Africa live close to Belgians and other Europeans in obvious separation. This was the height of the euroLeague games and we found ourselves dancing in a cafe at Place de la Bourse. Although our visit was short, we felt a need in Brussels (and the European Union as a whole) for an open meeting place for all nations, races and religions with an atmosphere of intercultural sharing.

Then off the continent to Somerset, UK on a grass & mud covered train fresh from the Glastonbury rock festival. We had a lovely slide show with tea and biscuits turning into a debka dance circle in Burnham on Sea. Then, in Cheddar, more then 50 people from all ages and denominations showed up for a wine and cheese (Cheddar!) presentation and made some creative suggestions for future events and fund raising for the All Nations Cafe. Then arriving in Glastonbury, accurately called the New Jerusalem, we randomly entered a natural oil shop called Sapphire and had such an enthusiastic response that in less than three hours a varied group of smiling people from Slovakia, New Zealand, Israel, Egypt, Ireland and England gathered round for an impromptu All Nations Cafe dance celebration, a sing-a-long in Arabic-Hebrew-English and a Hiroshima peace flame and Jerusalem water ceremony. The resourceful Glastonburians have even managed to cook Arabic coffee and serve rahat-lokum (Turkish delights), stuffed vine leaves and olives with almonds. The next day the mayor of Glastonbury (a cafe owner who sells fair trade coffee) was happy to brain storm about connecting the old and new Jerusalem, perhaps even declaring them twin cities. Later on that summer night, in a talk with activists from the Creative Health Network, who have been working closely with Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace and education in the Holy Land, the meaning of the Glastonbury - Jerusalem connection became clear: the leadership and standards of King Arthur and the hospitality and compassion of Patriarch Abraham should be shared to create a balanced society. The next day this was realized in a beautiful ceremony facilitated by priestesses of Avalon: pouring water brought from the Gihon spring into the Chalice Well and carrying the red spring water that flows under Glastonbury Tor back to Jerusalem to be poured into the Gihon spring beneath the Temple Mount.

Last stop, London, meeting with an Israeli-Arab-British group called Hafla, voluntarily arranging intercultural music and film events to bring closer people from different nations, it felt like this is the start of a beautiful friendship...

On July 25th, the All Nations Cafe music caravan set out to Jordan, in order to connect with people from different nations living in the Middle East. We held a couple of self-organized concerts at the Jerash Music Festival and at the Sydney hotel in Amman, as well as many spontaneous concerts in restaurants, cafes, hotel lobbies and in the streets of Amman.

We had the great fortune and pleasure to play music, dance together and share emotions and thoughts with Iraqi, Jordanian, Bedouin, Palestinian, Druze, Israeli, Egyptian, Syrian, Circassian, Saudi, Yemenite and Moroccan people from all walks of life, including gifted musicians and dancers, the king's guards, journalists, engineers, farmers, chefs, drivers, shopkeepers, hotel executives, travelers and most importantly - kids.

To look at the pictures from the caravan and read more details about it, check out this site:

Lisa Talesnick and Dhyan Or - All Nations Cafe, 26/August/2004


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