Two of our Fellows - volunteer speakers who connect with SNS via a range of regional organisations (see a list of them here) have kindly written up some of their recent feelings about the situation on the ground. We're keeping them anonymous to keep them safe online and on the ground.
A. in Jerusalem
Another round of violence, fuelled with rage and hatred. I, too, am filled with anger, sadness and disappointment, and quite legitimately so. Civilians on either side of the spectrum are paying the price for a conflict they didn’t choose.
The difference this time is the wide-scale targeting of Arab-Palestinian cities and villages inside the green line by violent and extremist groups, with little to no police protection for the Arab residents, and little to no police actions against the criminals. If the shoe was on the other foot, we would be counting our dead!
It’s a purge; and it’s organised. It started two weeks ago in Jerusalem where Jewish extremists would question drivers and pedestrians and attack anyone they suspected is Arab. Like gangrene, this violent blind hatred was left untreated and had now spread all over. Many roads within the West Bank are blocked by settlers, stones thrown at cars with a Palestinian plate number, or cars with visibly Arab/Muslim drivers/passengers, making it extremely dangerous for people to go to work, or to visit their relatives.
Since the beginning of Ramadan, things have been getting worse and worse, and now we’re struggling to find room to breathe, or to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, the situation is the result of an ongoing conflict, a prolonged occupation, and failure of the international community to act and to protect civilians, which is NEVER done by giving more weapons to any side.
This is a reminder that our Nakba never ended. The shadow of past massacres is roaming over us, reminding us how shallow our hope has been, and I find myself questioning the legitimacy of my own voice when I call for an end to the violence and condemn all attacks on both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. We know the pain of paying the price for a crime that you didn’t commit, we live with that everyday and we see that whenever the death toll rises. Those who survived such wounds should know better than inflict them on others. We are not okay, and we need help; your help.
The various acts of solidarity around the world rekindled some hope in me; that maybe our existence and our pain are not as invisible as we feel, that maybe our lives actually do matter and we’re not alone in this fight. But make no mistake; any support that is anchored in anti-Semitism does more harm than good for the Palestinian cause; it's the kind of support that we don't need. Support that encourages more violence is another hand that digs our graves. We need your voices, and we need them to join ours in calling for a sustainable and final solution to this madness. We need you to stand for peace, justice and equality. We need you to join us in creating a better future for both nations.
E. in Tel Aviv
It is always the darkest right before dawn.
Israel and Palestine are going through a scary escalation. Violence, oppression, fear and terrorism are everywhere. Covid was forgotten in politics, in the media and honestly, in the hearts and minds of the public. But this escalation was not a surprise. It was not random. It was orchestrated and organised by the extremists within the societies. In the weeks leading up to the escalation, we have seen an unprecedented civil and political partnership between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis. I have witnessed true courage and determination in Israeli society. We have felt the winds of change, daring to dream of a responsible, compassionate leadership, who will lead a peace process aimed at transitional justice and reconciliation.
In the midst of a political, economic and health crisis, the inevitable conclusion penetrated years of denial – we, Israelis and Palestinians, are destined to live together, shoulder to shoulder, sharing this land. It is not that this land belongs to any of us, but rather it is we who belong to it.
This past weeks I have seen the worst of my society and my country. I have felt the pain, the anger, and the hatred, but also the hope and solidarity. I received countless phone calls, messages and emails from my Palestinian brothers and sisters, as well as all our partners, colleagues, and friends in the global peace camp - checking in with me, strengthening me, reassuring me. I have seen tens of my thousands of my fellow citizens, digitally and in the streets, in hundreds of spontaneous demonstrations, denouncing violence, standing together, Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. I am certain that this political force can overcome anything in its path, as it is made from hope.
Robert Kennedy famously said: “each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice. He sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”
May we achieve equality, justice and peace for the two peoples sharing the land between the river and the sea.