The Arabs/Jews Event, 2006: A Tale of Hope

The other night a friend of mine was discussing the Arabs/Jews event in 2006, and Stephen asked her to send it to him in an email. The following is one Israeli woman’s view of that event.

It was a night like any other night—except it wasn’t and I knew it wasn’t—because I was greatly anticipating an event that was about to take place at the university. It was an evening designed especially for Arabs and Jews by Byron Katie, and all day long I felt I was thinking about it and wondering who the heck is going to show up, because on that same night Pink Floyd were getting back together again to play a concert for peace in Israel, and anyone who was even remotely interested in coming to the event with Katie decided, of course, to go to the concert instead.

Not me, though. I felt strongly that a truly fresh new thing would be happening, and there was no way I was going to miss this. I had heard Pink Floyd so many times, and as great as they are, it was history, and here was Katie, who I only saw on the web, coming to do something for peace that had never been done before, and I felt truly interested. So I managed to convince a good friend to join me, and off we went.

My friend let me know that she was only coming for that one night, just to keep me company, and anyway—the workshop Katie was offering for the next few days was sold out, and even the overflow room was sold out. As my friend was talking and while we were driving, we saw a young woman on the sidewalk who looked like she needed a ride, and I had a sense she was heading in our direction. “Stop,” I said. “Let’s give her a ride—I bet she is going to the event.” Sure enough, she was, and when she got into the car, she thanked my friend for the ride and said, “I’m in charge of the overflow room in the upcoming workshop, and I can add your name to the list of names, though the room is almost full.” Needless to say, my friend came.

When we entered the hall, it was completely full, and the whole front of it was filled with Arab villagers, Arab dignitaries, women with their faces totally covered in black (Katie had sponsored buses that brought them to the event), Jewish students, political activists who came because they saw it was an Arab-Jewish thing and had never heard of Katie before, and all kinds of other people—and the place was full and noisy. A man was standing on the stage speaking in Hebrew, and on the side of the stage I saw a woman standing, and I realized it was Katie (I recognized her face from her pictures).

Katie began working with an Arab man, the principal of a secondary school, who was dealing with his stressful thoughts over the Israeli occupation. The noise and restlessness in the hall was almost embarrassing to me. An Israeli left-wing political activist behind me was yelling at Katie, “Go home, you American, this is not a soap opera, this is a real occupation.” I turned to her and said, “Be quiet,” and my friend said, “You be quiet, you’re making more noise than anybody.” “My goodness, what a mess,” I thought, “what Katie must be thinking about us —probably that it’s such a third-world country.” In that moment Katie turned around to the audience and said, “Let’s just do the best we can with what we have. This is a first, and there are a lot of things to work through, but if we do, then from a resolution here, something will benefit the whole world, and in my experience what happens beyond what we can see is very powerful, so I am okay with the noise, and let’s just be with it.” Then she turned back to the man she was working with. I felt relieved and was able to hear and appreciate how hard Katie was working to hold the space so that the man on the stage could get a glimpse of the truth that it was his thoughts about the occupation that were causing his suffering. Finally, with Katie’s patient and gentle help, he did the turnaround: “The occupation is not the worst thing.” It was amazing to see him even consider this, because he seemed to believe with all his heart that it was the worst thing, and many of the Arabs were shouting that it was the worst thing. He had a hard time opening up in front of his peers, and yet he said, reluctantly, that maybe, just maybe, murdering somebody might be worse for him than the occupation. I don’t know what he understood in that moment, but he seemed to be very moved.

The second person to volunteer to do The Work was a Jewish Israeli who had been very angry at a group of Arabs (he called them “terrorists”) who had severely beaten him and his friend when they were fourteen years old.

“Tell us what happened, honey,” Katie said. So the young man began to describe his ordeal. He and his friend were walking through the field one sunny day when a group of Arabs jumped them and beat them up so badly that he had almost died. And he went into each and every gruesome detail. He spoke in a very calm tone in spite of the noise in the hall, and the audience became quieter so that they could hear him. He described how they broke his bones and put a knife through his neck.

“What were your thoughts in those moments, sweetheart?” Katie asked.

“Well”, said the young man, “all of a sudden, a thought flashed through my mind: ‘I’m going to die,’ and in a split second I found myself hovering over my body, looking down. I was just being a light or something. It was amazing. Meanwhile, the terrorists thought I was dead and ran away, and my friend ran off to get help, and in a flash, I was back in my body.”

“What if I told you, honey,” said Katie, “that the only way for you to experience that you are not the body was to go through this ordeal—would you be willing to go through it again?”

“Yes,” said the young man very clearly, and a total hush fell upon the audience. “I would go through it again in a second. It was the single most important experience of my life. I’ll never forget it. It totally shaped who I am.”

“Without the terrorists,” Katie said, “how could you have had that experience? And did you send them a thank-you note?”

The young man smiled.

I felt that everyone, Jews and Arabs, came together in that moment, and that a new understanding was being born. There was total silence, and then there was loud applause. “My God,” I heard myself think. ”She did it. She penetrated something old and stale and got to people’s hearts. Unbelievable.” Even the rowdy activists in the crowd had to agree.

As we were leaving the hall, we were all much more relaxed. Arabs and Jews were even mingling. I found myself walking alongside the Arab school principal who had done The Work with Katie, and he said, “She is doing cognitive psychology. I am sure of that.” “Maybe,” I said. And we kept talking. Then all of a sudden, he said some political thing, and I could feel an argument rising up inside of me, but before I had a chance to say anything, the activist I thought of as “rowdy” came along and said to him—right in my face—“Don’t even bother talking to her” (meaning me). “She always has to be right.”

“You know,” said the Arab man, “you’re right. She has no active listening.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and was just about to react when it occurred to me that maybe I needed to really hear what they had said. Maybe wisdom was speaking to me through these kind people and reminding me that we had just spent time in the company of a very wise teacher who had opened up a whole new way to communicate by listening inside, and I needed to listen. I backed off and thanked them for telling me that, and I left the event a much different person than the one I’d been when I came.

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44 comments

  1. Hey Friends of The Work,

    I just posted this blog post at http://www.digg.com. If you want more people to have the opportunity to read this blog post, go to http://www.digg.com and find it, and digg it. This will help it jump to the front page where it will be read by several thousand more people.

    This is one way to spread PEACE.

    Thanks!

  2. Thank you, dear friend, for telling and retelling this so that we can all learn to live in a holy land without holy war, right where we are. I am now sitting with the ways I disturb the peace. How am I political, noisy and not listening? How do I live my life when I think I’m a body, when I believe I’m a “me?”

    Love you,
    C

  3. I am Jewish. My parents were in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau in World War II. I have come to know they were not victims and the Germans were not tyrants in the war. There is no such thing. I hope that Israel and the Arabs come to know this. I hope that everyone appreciates the gift that Katie has brought to us on this Earth. She is a true Master and one of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of meeting. She is truly our friend.
    thank you,
    solomon

  4. It’s the most beautiful thing that people can meet without the story of who they are i am arab,i am jew is that true?.
    we are truely the one that create that story.I can be jew or arab and to the real me it’s doesn’t matter to our unborn nature who was always been complete ,When we meet from that place we can only injoy our self as self in everyone as everyone.

    may peace become on this part of the world.

    David from Israel.

  5. Hi

    The workshop sounds great, and perhaps only an “outsider” could do it….however I think the workshop could be described differently (and more usefully) – Arab/Jew are not binary opposites…it would be more correct to talk about Israelis and Arabs or Israeli’s and Palestinians (two competing national identities, or stories)or else to match Jew (a religious identity) with Moslem – so this was a Jewish Moslem workshop, or an Israeli-Arab one…the unconscious baggage around Jew is that Jews (as opposed to calling them Israelis) do not have a national identity which entitles them to a rooted relationship with land in the same way as the Palestinians …other than that it sounds amazing and I hope Katie and others like her will visit again

  6. When I think I am a “this”, and I make you a “that”, I seperate from what really is, and live from a mental story. The dream of “I am this”. Then I have to protect it. Thats Hell. Thank you beloved Katie for The Work and opening these eyes to a glimpse of what lives beyond the story. This planet is blessed by seeds you are planting.

  7. Mmm this story is really moving. Moving in me, moving in the world.
    Thank you for sharing, please do this again and again. Let’s spread the energy of peace.
    Iris

  8. I was deeply touched to read the report.
    Living in Israel and experiencing the unnecessary turmoil both sides have to undergo, I believe that with the philosophy of Katie much more would be accomplished than any peace conference could achieve.
    Thank you Katie and be back soon. Next time I will come to attend the meeting as well

  9. I was at this incredible event that for me was inspiring and at times very very difficult.Personally I noticed how it was much harder for the Palestinian to “get it”
    but when he did – it was a moment I will never forget.
    Thank you Katie, please come again soon!

  10. When I read the question that Katie asked the man who had been beaten “the only way to experience that you are not your body was to go through that ordeal” and that the man recognized that the experience had shaped him…I wept with tear of resonance.

    Katie’s presence penetrated the war in the room and shifted it to peace…and that the woman who wrote this wonderful piece(peace) herself make a phenomenal shift into listening.

    What bountiful love,

    Karenbeth

  11. Dear Katie…I just read your story about the Jews and Arabs coming together and have been deeply moved. I live in Canada and my work involves working with First Nations people (you call them Native Americans) across Canada. The aboriginal people struggle with hatred and pain from the history we have with the non-native people. In the work I do I do not support this energy of pain but do work at offering ways to change the filter that is being used by the First Nations people. So they could perhaps change their point of view and be free from the toxic energy that is carried now from generation to generation since the Residential School experience. I was wishing that somehow a big conference could be held or a workshop for the First Nations people so they could express what’s alive for them in the anger they carry from what has happened in the Residential Schools and how it has devastated the culture, families, language the fabric that binds people together. Just in case you are not familiar with the history, children were forced to go away to Residential schools so they could be taught how to be civilized beings and to assimilate the people into a different culture. In that process sexual abuse happened (to children), physical beatings, shame was used, guilt was used and on and on. Needless to say people are still experiencing racisim and are rather good at it themselves now. My people hurt each other now, they can’t seem to let go and move on to a better more joyful life. The patterned thinking is so alive it ripples through to all parts of their lives, doing victim is a way of life, of course there are some that are moving on and creating a better life for themselves but there is still so much work to do. I don’t want to minimize the peoples pain nor do I want to enable it, I am respectful of whats alive for them. Yet my heart longs to show them a way to let go and move on to focus on what they want more of and not what they don’t want. My mother went to a Residential School for 9 years of her childhood, starting at 6 years old, she never left once in all those years. Her 9 years cannot of been for nothing, it has inspired me to be more loving and has taught me compassion, my passion to do this work comes from being the daughter of a Residential School survivor. I do training in many different types of workshops one is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, amazing and wonderful tools come from adapting how he is teaching us to use the English words now. I have taken this information to as many First Nations communities in Canada as I possibly can, and it’s catching on, which gives me much joy. I know there is more ways and that is what I pray for, for the native people of this land. We have much to offer in our Traditional ways of living life, so many do not live that way and they are in pain. Expressing it in ways that are toxic and harmful to self and to others. I went to hear Neale Donald Walsh 2 days ago and I was moved by what he had to say. A few years ago I was told about the work you do Katie and began to read your books, I’m on the emailing list as I am with James Ray and the Nonviolent Communication organization, Marshall and I know each other personally and he has done his best to support me in the work I’m called to do, it truly makes my heart sing and I travel to small, remote communities that sometimes take 3 planes and a boat ride to get there. Small villages that not many outside people go to. I live in a wonderful time and I’m excited about the work you do and how it connects to the Creator energy within each one that you work with. As you and many others do this work of showing people how to live more freely in loving ways, I feel excitement and I cry with joy to know that the work goes on. Bless you Byron Katie.

    Leslie Williamson in Canada

  12. We all must be peace. Katie is peace and her words bring much needed inner peace. We all must just BE peace. Trying gets us nowhere but back in the conflict.

  13. Hi, this morning I looked at the world with new eyes, not usual, me and the world, but everything as one movement, as one blessing. My heart lept with joy, the thoughts quitened their chutter and I felt free of their pretence ‘meanings’. Reading this letter moved me to the core. Today, most then ever, we people have to come together. All my love and gratitude to you all. Dragan

  14. Katie,
    It’s always amazing to see how infinite the work is. Nothing can hold space when the work is experienced. Everything finds it’s polarity (as in the man who found that the most horrible event in his life was also the most magnigicent event in his life) and returns us back to “is”. I love being moved now by an event that appears to have happened in the past in a country far away.

    Thank you Katie and thanks to the man who has the courage to be 14 years old and live the story anew.

    joan wolfe

  15. Thank you for writing this. It touched me deeply to see how the opposites came together to create the perfect evolutionary experience. Praise the lord for Katie’s presence in my life!

  16. Hello Katie,

    I am in tears of gratitude. I am so grateful for the presence you are in this world. I am grateful that others can also get to that space in themselves to live this presence in themselves even for a moment. This is a living example of what peace is. It is so beautiful and yet everyday I forget to be there. I thank you and Stephen for your living example. I thank all of my teachers that assist me in finding this peace.

    In deep gratitude for the sharing of this story.

    Fran

  17. Both the holocaust and the occupation of Palestine are dehumanizing events. But as Katie demonstrated if we decide to love, we have a much greater chance of surviving. As Gandhi said,” We must not kill our enemies, but kill their desire to kill.”Katie and other spiritual teachers are busy building a humanity that learns how to love again. I believe that the fate of the earth depends on the progress this kind of teaching is making and that the time now is becoming short.
    Blessings,
    Hedi Mizouni

  18. Thank you for this beatiful story! Also, I’ve really enjoyed the comments on this site. It feels really good to simply let the tears flow when one’s heart is touched…

    I did the “Work” on stage with Katie a few years ago. I remember BK telling me, “Honey, this work is just the beginning for you”… I supposed she was talking about the emotional healing from my living in a religious cult most of my life. I am amazed at how her words have so divinely come to pass!

    Since that day with BK, my life has been a complete and wonderful “turnaround”. I have been doing inner work of many kinds ever since and I am now coaching others in taking accountability for their lives and assisting them in their own personal transformation as they let go of emotional pain, fears, etc.

    Thank You, Byron Katie! Thank You, all of you that are chosing Love over fear. I love the Essence of the “Work” and what it’s done for me. I look forward to the whole world choosing more and more LOVE! It’s the only way to true Peace….
    In Love and Light, Pamela Joy

  19. Thank you for sharing this story. I saw Katie last fall in Salt Lake City. It was amazing, the transformation she facilitates within people and myself. We all need to take note of her message. It reminds me of the song: “Let There Be Peace On Earth, and Let It Begin With Me”.

  20. thank you……thank you for your experience and sharing of that event.

    it appears i live far away from the conflict you describe and yet it lives in me here in the USA where my thoughts say things like: it’s hopeless
    it’s impossible to change this
    there’s no way being beaten is going to bring something positive
    how dare YOU say I THINK I’M RIGHT

    and now i know the conflict lives in these thoughts that live inside me whether i’m here or there.

    much love to this opening…..

    mary ann

  21. this moved me. it brought me chills. the possibilities for change are at any moment. it is the approach in how we deal with each other that can accomplish the miracle. whiddling something so complex into the core simplicities allows for the change to occur. this author captured this process beautifully. if we can say “thank you” more often for challenges then we may embrace them as opportunities for growth and understanding. a big “thank you” to the author for illustrating these exchanges so well.

  22. well it is a lot of writing
    and it is perfectly that people
    OPEN UP
    AND WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF LETTING US know.
    what is the central message in all meeting of “people”.
    of identities of
    what we SEE as ourselves.

  23. hi katie

    what is the core belief/idea identification “behind”this story?

    I mean let’s be straight
    what is really there here
    in the mind/body.

    love, tony

    did in 2001 the school of the WORK

  24. Katie, I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face feeling so moved after reading this account. It gives me so much hope for peace in the world, peace in myself. We need workshops like this for our world leaders, for terrorists, for all of us to find the inner truth of who we are. Thank you Katie for doing this awesome work!

  25. Thank you for listening to the principal’s comment, “She has no active listening.” Thank you Thank you. And now I receive that criticism, gratefully.

  26. As a newcomer to this site and to The Work, I’ve been eagerly reading everything on the site. This account is almost unbelievable, it is shattering, shattering our beliefs, our stories about ourselves and others. Once again, I am shaken by the honesty of those who open up about their stories and experiences, including the writer of the letter, to whom I am deeply grateful for her honesty. Deepest thanks to all. Shalom. Inshallah. Namaste.

  27. And it has been a year, an anniversary. A whole year had passed and it’s June again and Katie is on her way to yet another GREAT event in Israel that is going on right after the AMAZING 9 days school she just did in Co, USA.

    The seeds that have been sawn are bearing fruit and the Israeli event is completely sold out. with 1200 people for each of the 2 days. Sending lots of good wishes support and love.

  28. Orly, it is so wonderful to read this again. It is so beautifully written, and such a perfect representation of the magic The Work opens the world up to.

    I know the events there in Israel will be amazing, and our time at the School together was very special. You taught me so much, and I am still learning.

    I hope to see you in Israel soon. Exciting!

    Lisa

  29. Thanks Katie,

    So much courage on Katie’s part to serve us in this way. I was most impressed with how Katie held her space and stayed centered through the bedlam. Her energy eventually affected the whole room in a good way. It inspires and encourages me.

    There is some subtle anti-semitism at work though, in the way the story is reported, (NOT in the “work” process). This is accomplised partly by the “occupation” word being used multiple times. This work was done in the context of a conflict caused by one group of people sworn to the annihilation of another, and the other’s attempts at security and survival. Part of the security was to “occupy” some of the most aggressive and dangerous areas.

    It is about a group of people who’s culture and leaders have totally failed them and who envy and hate the prosperity and freedom enjoyed by the other group. Many of the those in the “occupied” area live there by choice, having better quality of life and safety there than otherwise. Most of them are volunteers, not victims.

    That being said, perhaps “The Work” will help them come to see their self-victimization and stop projecting their own hostility and hatred onto the people who are trying to survive and live in peace.

    Charlie, the peace-loving warrior

  30. I am a cancer doctor and I help people deal with struggles and acceptance daily. The theme that keeps my balance is to stay in the now and make now as real and pleasant as possible. As you have said that’s all there is…. we can hold hands and smile now…. only now can we enjoy “this”. perhaps this is an easy out for me, maybe because I don’t want to play ego games in answering the question “how long do I have, doctor”. I tell the patient not to ask me that because whatever I say it will be a lie…. if you want to put me up on some kind of pedestal as if I really know the answer you are daring me to play God, you are daring me to be more important in my presumption of such knowledge when, in my little zen mind, i “don’t know”. I only really know that right Now is here…. and I invite them to stay with me here and have a little hug and pass it on to others before they go. Leave behind an attitude. That is the value added thing we can bequeath…. the rest of the “stuff” will be here regardless. And will be other people’s burden. But to leave behind “now” with a smile, ah, there is a real present. There is a legacy.

    As my friend Bill Williams says,

    namaste.

    Jack Tidwell

  31. To Salomon Faber who says: “I am Jewish. My parents were in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau in World War II. I have come to know they were not victims and the Germans were not tyrants in the war. There is no such thing. I hope that Israel and the Arabs come to know this. ”

    i truly do not understand how could they have attracted such a thing? can you explain? I am new to all this and it is hard for me to even know what it is all about…

  32. I found this to be a very meaningful story. I was touched by the wisdom of the Jewish Israli man to truly understand that we are not our bodies and that those whom we would typically blame for our pain and suffering and hate as a result, are the ones we truly need to thank.
    This is my first time viewing this site and I look forward to reading more.
    With love and light…
    Donna

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