Last summer, I was at World Fellowship, which is a progressive resort in New Hampshire. The theme of the week was The Middle East, and I began thinking, what if MY dream of Israel could be accomplished: a democratic multicultural secular state in which all beliefs, including secularism, were respected, and in which social and economic conditions were created to enable people of all flavours of Jewish and Islamic background to heal wounds and live in harmony. What would their flag look like?

So I began bringing my brush markers to Program, and as I listened to speakers and participated in discussions, I painted. I thought about colour and form elements of the Israeli and Palestinian flags: white, blue, black, green bands; the six pointed star; the red triangle. I added the crescent and the five pointed stars to include Islam.

The most fun part was playing around with the calligraphy of Shalom and Salaam, trying various ways of blending them and contrasting them, noticing and learning the shapes and the flows, finding the beauty and elegance in each, seeing the similarities and the differences, thinking about how the Hebrew alphabet developed under the influence of european alphabets (each letter separate and upright) while Arabic developed its flowing cursive style, and wondering what an original, shared root alphabet might have
looked like.

And now, rereading this last paragraph, I see that this calligraphic meditation was a microcosm of a meditation on the Israeli and Palestinian peoples: how they are similar and different, how they blend and contrast, how their histories have shaped their present, how each contains so much of beauty and value.

Donna McDermott, Vancouver British Columbia Canada