“The Work” in Israel


Byron Katie


I was recently in Tel Aviv with the most awesome Work family imaginable. The members of The Work family in Israel are moving The Work as though they were an army for peace. They are moving it consciously, wisely, and swiftly. At one of the events, in a group of over 500 people (the spill-over video room held another 350—it’s a beginning), I asked, “How many of you are familiar with The Work?” And more than two-thirds of them raised their hands. It was also my privilege to do three television interviews as well as other publication interviews in Tel Aviv.

Katie works with a woman in Tel Aviv

At the Arabs & Jews event, an Israeli man talked openly as he read his Worksheet on being beaten almost to death by two Arabs, answered the questions, and turned around each one-liner we were Working with. A Palestinian man’s one-liner was, “The Occupation is the worst thing.” And when he turned it around to, “The Occupation is not the worst thing,” the Arab constituency began to coax and push him into standing up for the old way of thinking, to answer his question for him, to enforce the old beliefs of the past, and this amazing man, sitting with me, when I asked him to give me an example of his turnaround, very quietly and softly said, “The worst thing is to kill.” I am so very moved by the consistent courage of “us” as we seek to find peace in the world.

And, dear family, because you pay tuition to enroll in the nine-day Schools, come to BKI events, etc., we were able to afford to pay for buses to bring the Arab community to this event. Some of them even came from the occupied territories into Tel Aviv on these buses. Bedouins attended, political leaders, as well as some religious leaders (Jews, Christians, Muslims), giving, yet again, after centuries and centuries of the same stories, the same quotations and teachings that mankind is already so familiar with on this planet. I asked at one point that everyone please refrain from political or religious statements (after a few attempts—it was hard for me because I was fascinated by what they were saying) and suggested that this was not the place for that; rather, it was a place to look for peace in an entirely new direction, in a new way, and to give it their attention, that we as a human race have tried everything else. The political uproar calmed, and it was amazing how people actually listened and seemed to respect the request. The room became quiet at some point and the space opened for The Work to happen.

One woman finds peace after doing The Work

To my pleasant surprise, one of the Arab leaders who took me into Gaza on my last trip to the Middle East was there to escort me through the crowds as I entered as well as left the stage through crowds of people wanting to know more about The Work and wanting their many questions answered. One very outspoken Arab woman had said at one point that she could not sit there and listen to what I was saying any longer. I asked that she please be kind to herself and not listen to what I was saying, and she said that she couldn’t stop, that she was only human. She demanded to talk and continued to talk over me, and finally the mike runner removed the mike or the mike was turned off. Later, after the program ended she was waiting for me and I saw her lunging toward me. Looking directly into her beautiful eyes, I began to laugh, I opened my arms to her, immediately enveloped her, looked into her wild and wonderful eyes once more, and she began to laugh. We fell in love—what else can I say? She is going to contact The Work family in Israel, and go for it, and she left me with a gift from her purse that she wanted me to take with me.

Arick and Katie eating falafel in Tel Aviv

At the end of the three-day visit, as I and Arick and his untiring, smiling, very connected army of Workers, the family, sat together in the dearest, most intimate way and expressing our gratitude for the amazing job that they had all done in bringing so many diverse people together, we determined to do an annual Arabs & Jews event, as well as a nine-day School in Israel sometime during the next two years—and we hope sooner rather than later… And the little book is now in Arabic as well.

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