Transforming Armageddon - 1999 Report 
A report from Alan and Odile Hugonot Haber 
"Armageddon" is the dark specter of a final war in the revelation at the end of the Christian bible (rev 16.16).  In Jewish history it is the city Megiddo across the Jezreel valley  from Mount Tabor to which the prophetess Deborah led the General Barak in a battle against the Canaanites...  Also there the reforming King Josiah fell in battle.  Solomon built it up as a fortified city.  The Ottoman army was defeated there by General Allenby, "The site serves first and foremost as an eternal monument to the wars and destructions which occurred in the world since its creation" says Shemya Ben David, the director of the Parks of the North. Archeologists have discovered more than 20 successive settlements and cities there extending back to earliest times.  The Israel National Park Authority hosts busloads of tourists, seven days a week,  from all over the world who come to tel Megiddo for its historical or religious significance. In  today's language "Armageddon" is synonymous to a world destruction caused by an arms race escalating out of control.

Two Ann Arbor   community citizens, odile and alan,  a nurse and a carpenter, went to Megiddo from April 15 to May 10 this year   continuing a slowly evolving  "peace project"  They see Megiddo as a place to envision and gather an inclusive, comprehensive peace meeting - for all the wars in the world, with all outstanding questions on the table.  The nurse is searching for a healing for the world , the carpenter has provided a receptive table for Peace.

Last year they brought a "peace pole"  to Megiddo as a gift to the national park. The pole has the prayer, "May peace prevail on earth," written in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and English.   In the intervening year the park director was able to overcome hesitancy among higher authorities to actually put the pole in the ground. The pole is now planted at the height of the tel  by  a shaded meditation place overlooking the Jezreel valley.   An eclectic group dedicated the peace pole on "earth day" this year, April 22,  reaffirming the basic peace prayer and sharing ideas of  a peace conference, a concert to turn the heart and an exhibit of art for peace from the many war zones of the world.  A 90 year old German woman reflected on the wars she had seen in her life. A Belgium social worker spoke of the harsh conditions of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation.  An Israeli student of holistic health advanced a vision of spiritual union among those sharing the land. An American peace activist added a prayer for Mordechai Vanunu, the imprisoned whistle blower exposing Israeli nuclear secrecy.  A French man  prayed for peace amongst the Holy Land's Christians.

Discussion continued through an interpretive tour of the archeological site.  Questions recurrent in wars all over the world are revealed in the silent testimony of the stones of Megiddo… the effort to secure security at the gate house, the scarcity of water and sharing of water resources at the water tunnel, the preeminence and problems of privilege at the tomb of royalty, of patriarchy and the acceptance of human sacrifice at the pre-patriarchal altar (2700-B.C.), the elusive  wisdom of how contending children can share the same mother earth. in the meditation area near Solomon stables and over looking the valley where the green line lays.

A peace vigil at the entrance to the  park attracted a "peace drumming circle" of Israeli Jewish young women and men, Japanese and Korean volunteers at a nearby kibbutz and Arab workers around the park joined in, food appeared…  Other park visitors made themselves welcome.  Peace was easy common  ground.   A statement was distributed in Hebrew and English warning of increased arms trading, militarization and the prophecy of Malachi, unless there is "a turning of hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers" there will come a terrible destruction and curse on the land. 

The project team concluded an agreement with Givat Haviva, a nearby educational center in the kibbutz movement, to  provide facilities and support for a model conference next spring and to help find artists and art for peace for an exhibit of visions of peace.

A positive meeting was held with the director of the nearby Ma'ayon Harod Park to reserve the 7000 seat outdoor amphitheater for a peace concert benefit as part of next year's projected festival for peace. 

Other discussions were held with people from the world of theater about developing a scenario to further bring art into politics, using the Megiddo site to explore rituals  and advancing a partnership way of sharing security and power.

Odile thought of a  women peace encampment  in top of Mount Tabor and a march for peace to the city of Megiddo, on the theme of how different culture can learn to trust each other and share, live together for the benefit of all; The march would be ending on the Canaanite alter, a round alter with seven steps, at Megiddo with an invocation for a partnership society , a new social contract. An exploratory march from the top of Mount Tabor to Megiddo archeological site took 10 hours down the Mountain, across the fields,  along the paths and the Wadi, encircling the water reservoir, marching around grapefruit and olive groves, the Mountain of Nazareth on the right side and the town of Afula on the left side.

They spent the night in Umm el-Fahm, the second largest Arab Israeli town where they spoke to young people, who told them: 'Peace is education" The Arab  youth, not being eligible for the army, get no subvention to help them going to University . Also in Umm el-Fahm they badly need tutors to help them get better grades. The town elder  whom  they were visiting was starting a tutoring project and requested their help for funding and support. 50% of land of Umm el fahm was confiscated in 1948and the village has since become a big town on the hill, the land of Megiddo use to be owned by the villagers. The village of Lajun , an extension of Umm el Fahm was razed down , the mosque can still be seen in the kibbutz Megiddo. 

Alan and Odile latter met with a film maker  who interviewed original residents of Lajune and founders 
of the kibbutz that was built on its ruins-"Rain 1949."  They brought back to Ann Arbor a copy of this sensitive opening of  a most difficult question of reconciliation and will arrange an Ann Arbor  showing. 

The project undertook visits and meeting with forward positions in the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements. They met with and heard reports  from  so many good and positive projects and organizations that rarely make the news.  New Israel Fund and Shatil sponsored an excellent conference describing work on Ethiopian rights, religious pluralism, low income housing communities, women's rights and the situation of the Arab minority in Israel, on the question of how to relate social justice to peace.  A  visit in Gaza showed the charity work of the Holy Lands Foundation and the Organization for Motherhood and Children. Attending a class in Al-Quds Open University, the questions were repeatedly asked: why is the United States Government so one sided against Palestine and for Israel.? Does the American press report what is happening in Gaza? Will there ever be an accounting of what was taken from us?  First year English students in another class (all girls) lamented they still don't have a state of their own.  Hebrew University Truman center hosted a well attended conference on peace education.  A peace and healing center proposed on a hilltop near Jerusalem (Har Eitan) was toured, and a visit to the Academy of Jerusalem revealed beautiful visions of a coming together of faiths in a new Jerusalem.   Through every door opportunities opened and hospitality was offered  --more than could be explored or accepted, and more than be  even listed in this space. 

After leaving the middle east the project team attended the world peace conference of 9000 people, the hague appeal for peace, in the Netherlands  The Megiddo Peace Table was the central table at the opening of the conference and Nobel Peace Prize Winners Rigoberta Manchu, Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos  Horta  and David Andrews of Ireland sat around the table and added their wisdoms  to the questions that need to be on the table

Fuller reports of this exciting mission for peace will be offered during the summer.

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Alan and Odile Hugonot Haber -