April 15, 2024

Stories from the Field profiles Palestinian & Israeli peacebuilders fighting for their communities

Last week, ALLMEP concluded Stories from the Field, a series of profiles on Israeli and Palestinian activists and their work during the war. The series was produced in partnership with Jewish-Israeli journalist Dina Kraft, whose reporting  profiled the work of 12 different peace activists in the ALLMEP community. Their stories of courage, renewed purpose, persistence, and solidarity exemplify the values of our field, and offer a glimpse at how members of our community are responding to the realities on the ground.

These are stories of courage. Eran Nissan of Mehazkim rushed to the hospital to assist a wounded family member on October 7, where he witnessed “Arabs and Jews working together to save lives, the lives of Arabs and Jews.” Kamal Almashharawi, an alum of Seeds of Peace advocating for peace and an end to the war, lived in a Gaza basement for eight days during the early days of the Israeli bombardment, constantly questioning what would happen next to him and his family. Avi Dabush, the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, found his kibbutz under attack on October 7. He hid his family and himself in a safe room for eight hours until help arrived and had to evacuate the kibbutz. However, despite this trauma, Avi continues to coordinate kibbutz families of hostages and those murdered that day. Kher Albaz, whose dear friend Vivian Silver was murdered by Hamas during the October 7th attack on her kibbutz, details his work to support Bedouin communities in the Negev.

These are stories of purpose. Thabet Abu Raas, CEO of The Abraham Initiatives, has family in Gaza, part of what has spurred him through his work as an activist to call for an end to incitement and racism against Arab citizens of Israel and to advocate for them within local and national government. Michal Sherez Shilor, who works with Tzedek Centers, leapt into action after the attacks to create action groups with the goal of preventing escalation and violence between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.

These are stories of persistence. Sally Abed of Standing Together continues to believe that building the base of solidarity between Palestinians and Israelis is the only way out of endless conflict. To Sally, “peace right now is a very, very radical word. But it’s also the only option.” Robi Damelin, a spokesperson for the Parents Circle – Families Forum who regularly shares the story of the loss of her son in the conflict, has accepted the slow, brick-by-break nature of progress in this kind of reconciliation. “The work of the Parents Circle is geared toward creating an atmosphere, where people understand the possibility of reconciliation…there needs to be respect, there needs to be some framework.” 

These are stories of hope. Wasim Almasri, an activist and member of ALLMEP’s staff, views his people as the key rallying point to prevent hopelessness, itself a key goal of the peacebuilding community. “You need this community to feel that you have a higher cause, something that you can hold onto.” Rana Salman of Combatants for Peace recognized the difficulty of even holding meetings after October, but members of her organization were nevertheless able to “sit together and talk about it and share our feelings and our fears and grief together…that’s why we do what we do.” 

Their stories are stories of solidarity. Michal Sela, CEO of Givat Haviva, believes in the importance of encounters between Arabs and Jews including when there is disagreement. “We know how to engage in productive dialogue and how to work in groups.” Yael Noy, Chief Executive of The Road to Recovery, continued her organization’s work of driving Palestinian patients across the border for treatment at Israeli hospitals almost without interruption after October 7. She said of her organization’s work, “I don’t think there’s an option to stop.”

These peace activists continue to carry their values and the values of our community with them in their work. Every day, they envision and work to build a more just, equal, and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis. Read and experience all twelve stories in the series here, and help share their work widely.

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