How do participants go on after the dialogue seminars for Israelis and Palestinians?
On our last trip to Israel and Palestine in December 2019, we met Deniz* (name changed) in a café in downtown Hebron.
Deniz* first participated in a dialogue seminar in Germany 10 years ago, and in a facilitation training for former participants of the seminars in 2012. „The seminar changed my life and motivated me to fight non-violently against the occupation“, he shares. He says that he is still in contact with former participants of the seminars from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as with some Israeli participants. Some of the Israelis from back then work for Israeli human rights oganizations now, one is even active as a human rights lawyer. „Some still come to Hebron for joint demonstrations in the scope of the Open Shuhada Street Campaign,“ Deniz* says.
Today, Deniz* is an activist with Youth Against Settlements (YAS), which he describes as a group of activists that supports Hebron residents in nonviolently resisting expropriation of their homes by Israeli settlers. YAS initiates non-violent civil disobedience actions, demonstrations, and organizes political tours in Hebron, sometimes together with Israeli organizations such as Breaking the Silence. In addition, they represent the interests of the residents and inform about the situation in Palestine: Deniz* has already been to Germany and, for example, last year to France and Catalonia. There he spoke with parliamentarians and gave lectures in schools and cultural centers about the human rights violations caused by the occupation in Palestine and especially in Hebron.
Although his activism also has personal implications, for example on the promotion opportunities in his job, Deniz* is convinced that his path of non-violent civil disobedience is the right one. Finally, he offers us to organize political tours for former participants of the seminars in Hebronas part of our follow-up program and to establish contacts with potentially interested participants.