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Kids' Zone Abeja Dispatch

'Twas the Holiday of Holidays!
January 5, 2000

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'Twas a rainy wet Christmas when all through the town Muslims, Christians, and Jews were partying down. Artwork was hung throughout Haifa with care for a celebration of hope that was happening there.

The children were dressed up in costumes to play. The Holiday of Holidays would happen today! And I in my raincoat was given a map to go find the party without even a nap.

The "Holiday of Holidays" is a festival in Haifa, Israel. It lasts for a whole month. People of many religions go there to celebrate Ramadan, Christmas, and Hanukah. They learn about other people's religions, and then they can understand each other better. For more information, check out the Beit Hagefen website.

When down in the streets there arose such a clatter I ran down the steps to see what was the matter. Passing many great sculptures by Arabs and Jews, through the old winding streets, which way would I choose?

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Abeja celebrating

The sun burst through the clouds to the wet streets below, signs in Arabic and Hebrew, which way should I go? When, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Sufi drums playing and spinning - stand clear!

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Anyone thirsty?

The kids clapped and danced, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment, there's no need to panic! Then the Sufis made way for the jazz band that came, and they whistled and shouted the Holidays' names.

"Merry Christmas and Ramadan, Happy Hanukah greetings on the Holiday of Holidays, all religions are meeting! We bring Peace and Goodwill, between Arabs and Jews! You create your own future, so what do you choose?"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, the kids danced in the streets as the rain clouds passed by! To the top of Mt. Carmel the good will it flew, past the cave of Elijah, Muslims partied with Jews!

For the story of Elijah, King Ahab, and Jezebel, click here.

And then, in my mind, I remembered the story, of Haifa's long history, both hopeful and gory. From ancient cave dwellers to the prophets of Baal, who were slain by Elijah, despite queen Jezebel.

The village lay quiet between Mt. Carmel and the bay, until lots of Jews came from Europe to stay. In boatloads they escaped, anti-Jewish pogroms, to arrive on this shore, and find something was wrong.

In the Early 1900's, many European Jews moved to Palestine. One slogan that convinced them to move was "A land without a people for a people without a land." But, of course, there were people in Palestine. When the Jews arrived, the Palestinian Arabs protested the large numbers of Jews.

In 1948, Jewish armies killed a lot of Muslims in a village near Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs across the country were afraid, and so the ran away. Even today they have not been able to return home.

"A land without a people," the Jews had been told, and so all they came, tired, frightened, and cold. And when they arrived, and set foot on dry ground, they discovered before them this small Arab town.

Soon riots broke out, against Zionist propagation, and the British forbade more Jewish immigration. So well-hidden boats tried to stay hidden, and Jews kept on coming, though it was forbidden.

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Like Disneyland?

Fear gripped Arab hearts, Deir Yassin on their tongues, But the Jews all assured them that no harm would come. All around Palestine, Arabs ran away, Yet not here in Haifa, where they felt safe to stay!

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Rockin' out

On the hills of Mt. Carmel, live Arabs and Jews, along with the Ahmadians, Bahai'is and Druze! So let us all celebrate diverse coexistence, and pray greater peace will meet little resistance.

If you would like more information about the Bahá'í faith, visit their web site

Soon nighttime was falling, Jewish Shabbat did end. And the Muslims could eat, and break bread with new friends! And so I recalled, as I rode out of sight, "Coexistence is cool, there is no need to fight!"

Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

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