OS in East Jerusalem



Dear All,

I opened space on Sunday for a group of Palestinian social activists in East Jerusalem who were gathered under the title of "working for a better Jerusalem- opportunities and challenges". This wonderful Palestinian group had gathered twice previously in a spontaneous way to try to make a difference in East Jerusalem. During our meetings we were so ambitious to change with so much energy but felt like we don’t know how to use it. So it was then when I suggested using Open Space in order to make the discussions more efficient. They were hesitant at the beginning, I gave a short introduction OS, I didn’t want to explain much because I find that every time I try to persuade people to using it, they oppose to it or they become very suspicious, they would say something like "if it is so good why aren’t the politicians using it here", I have received this answer many times, so I stopped persuading! The group were excited and agreed that the next meeting will be "different".


  星期日,我為東耶路撒冷由一群巴勒斯坦社會運動份子舉辦的一場開放空間會議進行開場,主題是「為了更好的耶路撒冷而努力—機會與挑戰」。這個優秀的巴勒斯坦團體,之前已經自發地聚過兩次,目的是為了讓東耶路撒冷有些改變。在之前的會議中,我們有相當大的企圖心,也有相當豐沛的活力,但是我們還不知道應該怎麼做。因此我建議這次使用開放空間會議方式(Open Space),讓討論更有效率。起初他們有些遲疑,我做了一個簡短的介紹。我不想介紹太多,因為我發現每次試著說服別人使用這種方式時,他們都會產生抗拒或是抱著猜疑的態度,他們可能會說:「要是這種方式這麼好用,為什麼政治人物都不採用呢?」我已經得到太多次這類的回應了,所以我不再說服別人。結果團體對這種會議方式感到興奮,也相信下次的會議會〞有些不同〞 。

We were around 17 people from different backgrounds and places, most of them don't even know each other, there were students, two University professors, some were Christians, some were Moslems, one was a fundamental believer of Hamas, two were very liberal actors, and three different women. We all shared one thing, our deep feeling/concern about Jerusalem and its Palestinian population. We had no sponsor or any organization supporting us, so I wrote the open invitation and sent it to all the people who were in the previous meetings but also to others who were not and asked to spread the word.


Our OS was scheduled for the 28th of September, the day of the breakout of the “Intifada” or uprising three years ago, I expected to hear politics, and declarations and so on. But it wasn't there at all; I have experienced the concept of "be prepared to be surprised" very strongly.I heard a deep commitment to serve the poor, the uneducated, the young students and the unused talents of people in Jerusalem.


People were very enthusiastic to start. After explaining how it works, the space was wide open but I heard nothing, it was silent so I wasn't sure if I made myself clear about "grabbing a piece of paper from the middle and writing anything you have passion for that is related to the main theme". No body moved and my feelings were that they were waiting for more instructions. Again I explained in few words what we are going to do and then sat on the side. I believe that they were in misbelieve that there was no agenda, and that they can discuss anything they want. One of them bravely approached and grabbed a piece of paper and asked if he can write anything he wants, I replied of course you could. Then all of them at once moved quickly to the middle and grabbed more than one piece of paper. They were enthusiastic and each of the 17 members fixed a topic on the community board. We had only three sessions: two for dialogue, and the last one for the selection of the working groups..


The negotiation process took its time in the marketplace and some agreed to mix their topics due to the short time, so we had 3 dialogue groups in the first hour, one about the unemployment problem and lack of work opportunities for the youth that turns them to alcohol and drugs, violence, crime.etc.. The second group dealt with a very serious issue of the social extremism, solidarity, the need for self enlightenment, they discussed the lack of the social and self awareness of people in this area, they didn't blame only the Israeli occupation for all this but they admit that Palestinians has a big part of responsibility. The third group discussed the role of the theater in building a better society, and the need to work on the national structure and not only the infrastructure. These three groups have gathered all the 17 topics and mixed them together in a magical way, each of the participants discussed his/her topic that hung on the wall within these three groups, I could hear their discussions and I can say that no one gave up on his passion. Some of the topics that were hung on the marketplaces were:

- The Fence, the social, economic and political danger behind it.
- Being with a tense mood and stretched nerves all the time in Jerusalem,
- Improving the quality of life through better education,
- Social and self-awareness...


社會與自我覺醒。 …..

I managed somehow to return to the big circle after the two sessions and two hours before the end, to try to get some sort of synthesis and self select into working groups. They organized themselves into 5 working groups , and some of them were into two working groups at the same time, they used the law of the two feet in an interesting way, they jumped from one group to another in order to contribute and be part of both groups. They loved the idea to be constantly moving from one place to another.


We had the last half an hour reflection on the experience; no one missed his or her turn to speak. The reflections were so positive and enthusiastic, something that I didn't predict before starting, the theater guy said that he was waiting for such an experience since years, he never felt so free and open to others and that he found what he was looking for. Many of them loved the idea of "the law of the two feet", as they expressed that they didn’t feel that they were obligated to stay where they don’t feel like staying. Many others appreciated the quality of work that has been done in such short time (5 hours), getting to 5 projects, and getting to know each other closely without having to go through the formal traditional way.


I felt lucky to work with such a group on such important issues and to make a difference in Jerusalem, and I wanted to share this experience with all of you.

Carol Daniel Kasbari


卡羅 丹尼爾 卡斯巴里

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