After the military escalation in Palestine and Israel in the past weeks, two of our partners shared their thoughts and feelings with us. Extracts from their sharings along with a report about the political situation in Israel and Palestine can be also found in our Summer Bulletin.
A voice from Israel: „This period is shaky and painful. Many hearts on the Israeli streets are burning with fear and hatred. As the years go by, it becomes more difficult to talk about peace, equality and the end of occupation. I have mixed feelings towards my country. I feel ashamed and angry when I hear what is happening in Gaza. My state uses more force, thinking that this is the solution, but it is clear that more violence only creates more violence, fear and hatred.
During the war, I was afraid to leave the house when missiles were fired at us from Gaza, and afraid of police and right wing activists‘ violence in demonstrations. In my family’s environment, it was hard to express my opinions because in their point of view we are the victims in the story. They warned me not to visit Arab friends or businesses – which of course I did and went to ask how they were. The most prominent voice I have heard is that it is clear to them that the Jews who are making a mess are not from Haifa and that the local residents came to support.
The transition between hope and despair is very sharp. When I participated in solidarity demonstrations and initiatives and felt their power, along with the knowledge that they were happening all over the country, hope arose in me. It hurts me a lot to see the violence by Palestinians against Jews, but I see the causes of this violence – the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel. I also see the perception in Israeli society that it is „either them or us“, and on each side there are those who say, „This is all ours“. When Palestinians talk about independence and rights, many Israelis experience it as a threat. In our collective consciousness, we are a persecuted people constantly facing an attack and have to fight for our existence at all costs.
A voice from the West Bank: „I am writing about something that I have been trying to avoid thinking about, because seeing so much injustice and unjustified violence against my people breaks my heart. During the holy month of Ramadan, there was so much unjustified violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem and a continuous attempt to steal more Palestinian houses in different neighborhoods in the city, which leads to more violence from both sides, and that violence moved to Gaza.
The twelve days of the last war on Gaza were hurting a lot. A lot of killing of civilians and children who have no shelters to hide in. (…) There were losses on both sides but it is not comparable – there are so many details around this complex topic.
On a personal level, I had a moment of weakness in my heart and I started questioning myself as to whether the dialogue work that I am doing is correct or not. You know, it was a super emotional period, but then using more my brain than my heart to think I started to say to myself: “If I give up and he and she and them also give up, then who’s left?! What would life look like without us, the ones who want to bring about a change, who want to make this place a better place to live in?” I remembered how this work changed me personally and changed many peoples’ minds along the years and we must continue.
Feelings and emotions go up and down from time to time but the more intense the situation is, the more I believe in our work.“