France: Muslim and Jewish women meet to cook together

At a time when a whiff of possible change has begun blowing in the Middle East, does it make sense for a group of French women - Jews and Muslims - to get together to make pastry and to ban all talk of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

It does, according to the women, who call themselves Les Bâtisseuses de Paix, or Peace Builders. Their aim is not to solve a conflict that has defied the best brains in diplomacy for decades, but rather "to block the transfer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into France."

Even their detractors say the aim is laudable, although the means may be inadequate to address such intractable problems.

But that has not dampened the spirit of the women. About 50 of them convened for mint tea recently at Les Jardins de la Méditerranée, or The Mediterranean Gardens, a kosher restaurant in the Paris suburb of Créteil. After kisses and compliments on hairdos, it was time for business. "Let's get to work!" one woman shouted, as eggs, dates and other sweet ingredients were passed around.

What looked like a cooking club was created in 2002 by Annie-Paule Derczansky, a former journalist, who was troubled by a surge of anti-Semitic acts in France, the European country with the largest Muslim and Jewish populations. She says that hostility between the two communities has been fueled by "French Jews thinking they're Israeli and French Muslims thinking they're Palestinian."

Peace Builders tackles this problem by throwing politics out the window, providing a neutral space for women who do not wish to be entangled in the bitter preoccupations that have often pitted the two communities against each other. From its focus on solidarity between Jews and Muslims was born the association's golden rule: No talk of Israel and Palestine, or as Derczansky, who is Jewish, says: "The first to bring up the conflict has to leave."


Source: IHT (English)


nunya said...


Anonymous said...

Alhamdulillah! This is so good to read. I am involved in an internet radio station here in Bristol, England. Radio Salaam Shalom is run by Jews and Muslims in a studio above the Bristol Muslim cultural Centre. Every programme on the station is presented together by a Muslim and a Jew. We are continuously discovering how much we have in common. Anyone interested can listen in at:
I pray there will be many more such projects and that the already existing ones (of which there are many, including in Israel) may be come better known.

Anonymous said...

"First comes Saturday..."

Just saying.