Thursday 22 January 2004

An extreme inspiration

Some positive news for a change, amidst all the hatred and violence of this world the true flame of the human spirit burns brightly in the cold Antarctic air. Photo and article segment come from the Guardian, I hope they don't mind me using it, this story brought a tear to my eye and it needs to be shared.

Give peace a chance...

A team of Israeli and Palestinian peace campaigners have achieved their goal of scaling a previously unclimbed Antarctic mountain.

The frozen wastes of the Antarctic are far removed from the conflict of the Middle East but a joint team of Israeli and Palestinian amateur explorers hopes that its pioneering mission there will have a peaceful influence back home.

The six man and two woman unit, which included an Israeli special forces veteran and two former Fatah activists, set itself the goal of overcoming its divisions to work together in one of the world's most hostile natural environments and climb a previously unclimbed mountain.

At the summit, scaled with the accidental symbolism of the eight amateurs roped together in mixed groups, they unfurled the two national flags and read a declaration in support of a non-violent solution to the Middle East conflict.

"We have proven that Palestinians and Israelis can cooperate with one another with mutual respect and trust," it said. "We hereby declare that our peoples can and deserve to live together in peace and friendship."

The mission won endorsements from the Dalai Lama, Kofi Annan and Zeddy al-Refai, the first Arab to climb Everest, but there were times when it looked as if it would not go ahead.

Israeli Heskel Nathaniel, the team leader, said some of the Palestinians had received threatening messages over their participation. Two of their number had been in Israeli jails while journalist Ziad Darwish's brother was killed by Israeli troops.

It was not until all eight group members were aboard the boat heading south through the Drake Passage from Chile to the icebergs of the Antarctic that Mr Nathaniel said he could feel sure there would be no "nasty surprises".

He said he set up the project to combine peacemaking with his love of extreme sports.

Full story...