I recently saw a documentary entitled “Dancing in Jaffa” that is the story of Pierre Dulaine, a world famous ballroom dancer who returns to Jaffa ( a town on the outskirts of Tel Aviv in Israel on the sea) where he grew up in an effort to try and break down the barriers between Jewish- Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli children by teaching them to ballroom dance. In trying to fulfill his dream, Pierre has to overcome the challenges and prejudices of two cultures who have, for many years, struggled to find a way to co-exist.
In the beginning, the children, who are in some cases being forced into this exercise, are resistant to interact with the other children, in large part based on their awareness of “difference” but by the end of the first session of the program, not only are the children dancing together, but in some cases they have also become friends.
Given the success of the program since it was first introduced, hundreds if not thousands of children have now participated. It is a beautiful and moving documentary that I would encourage you all to see if you have an interest in this subject.
Throughout world history, countries, religious groups and political factions have continued to be at odds with each other, often resulting in disastrous results sometimes with significant consequences which include the loss of human life.
When you have two sides that have differing points of view or beliefs, and the parties are trying to find a way to resolve a dispute, as a practical matter, no solution will ever be found unless the parties involved are willing to show some level of compromise. Compromise does not mean that one should abandon important ideals and principals but often there is some room for moving off a hard and fast position.
There are times when one party may have no choice but to succumb to the wishes of another party. But for a compromise to work, each party must feel that the underlying agreement is a benefit to both sides, otherwise there is a material risk that the compromise will not last.
The path to peace and compromise is not always an easy one. But when I look at pictures like the ones featured above, of young children smiling, it is a reminder to me that when our children can no longer smile in the comfort of their surroundings, it is a day when the prospects of a new generation are compromised.
“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.”
(Photos taken in Jerusalem – 2010)