My greatest fear was the weather, but I feared for nothing. Perhaps the increased presence of clergy (I have counted a Humanist Rabbi, A Reform Rabbi, A conservative Rabbi several sheikhs and several priests) convinced the Almighty to give us legendary weather. Pleasant autumn breeze without a drop of rain. Our prayers were answered.
In more ways than one. We were there a couple of hundred people, over half of us Jewish and half Arab, half men and half women. Toddlers, elemantary school children from the bi-lingual 'Galil' school, came with their mothers, the wise and elderly came wearing djellabias and kefiya (or a glowing vest, like me) at the peak of the evening a skimmer floated overhead and photographed the line holding hands for hundreds of feet (well, there was a small break on the entrance road to the military base where we were not allowed to stand. ).
Misgav presence was very respectable. Of course there were the familiar faces, but also many others. The message was humane, not political. Sakhnin has also sent a very distinguished group of religious leaders and elders of the city.
At one point the priest spoke to the press of peace and neighbourly love, and then took the microphone, thanked for the honor and said –
"I am honored to be here and stand hand in hand alongside religious leaders, sheikhs, priests, the honorable Abuna. Religion does not separate us. It unites us. It commands us to love our neighbors. I love my neighbors. I support them during these difficult times and I am strenghtened by them. Together we will make Misgav and Sakhnin, the entire Galilee, a space free of racism and violence. The Galilee will lead the way for the entire State of Israel. "
The truth is that most of the rally just walked around with a megaphone and asked the people off the road. I was dressed with a glowing vest, and enjoyed the great pleasure of holding a megaphone and being able to tell people what to do.
Many people who passed by beeped in solidarity. That was our main gain. People know they are not alone. Not every man for himself, trying to fend off the hatred by himself. Misgavites locked within their fenced compounds and yellow gates, Arabs by their inner walls, not going in or out. Anyone who beeped knew we were a now united in a space of cooperation, of peace, of brotherhood.
Here is a picture, quite from the beginning of the rally. I am hidden in the back. In the front is peace leader Dina David. Next to me Is Dr. Gazal Abu-Ria, an educator I came to know and respect.
The dimmed sound in the background is the eccho of the Othman guns from the siege of Tiberias, in the year of wonders, 1745, when Palestinians and Jews fought side by side. Not for the last time. I swear by Daher's memory.
I wanted to end the rally with a convergence and possibly a speech from the organizers, but Abu Ali said it was getting dark and a bit risky in terms of traffic, and the main message has passed. I agreed with him. I went with a megaphone and thanked everyone for coming. I explained that this is only the first activity. There will be a lot more to come. Highway 805 connects rather than separates us.
If we were to gather in the end I might have been tepmted to sing, and try to sweep the croud. But maybe it was good that it didn't happen, because I'm not a singer. But Arik Lavie is.