Two years ago was I was accepted as a Palestinian volunteer speaker for Solutions Not Sides; that one email not only filled my heart with indescribable excitement and delight but also opened a brand new chapter of my peace activism journey. Travelling to another part of the world, telling my personal story to school students, breaking the stereotypes that the media has created of my people, and brainstorming possible solutions for the gigantic conflict in which I live was the kind of new experience which I’d been looking for.
I recently had the pleasure of leading a lunchtime talk on August 28 for members of ENCATE. The topic was understanding and tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia in relation to the discourse around the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Reflecting on the global protests taking place by Black Lives Matters and the racist and misinformed counter protests has been an emotional rollercoaster and has triggered trauma to resurface. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, angry, and sad, and despair has been provoked by the personal conversations and public discourse. I have also found solace and camaraderie, knowing that I am not alone.
The week the government closed British schools was one of the most challenging of my life. Sudden, difficult decisions had to be made that were unthinkable the previous week.
“As people and governments around the world deal with the international COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we’ve been asking our Fellows for their thoughts and feelings on how this global is affecting them. If you have any questions for Eran or our other speakers - whose stories we’ll publish in the coming days and weeks - drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. - Laurence @ SNS”
I'm writing this post in the middle of a shift as an ambulance driver collecting corona samples.
My introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came when I was about 16 after I attended a play called ‘Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea’. Watching this play was a moment of political awakening for me, of political consciousness. I became aware of how little I knew about the world outside of my continent, comforted in a bubble that atrocities are confined to history, they’re something we study, not something we experience.
“In this ongoing series called ‘Humans of SNS’ we’ll be hearing from SNS’ growing network of volunteer speakers - who become Fellows after taking part in an SNS tour - about a host of topics. We want them to share personal stories; examples of their activism; their feelings about the past and their hopes for the future.” - SNS
I wanted to reflect on my recent first visit to Berlin – a beautiful city with wonderful, warm and welcoming people. But my visit came in the wake of the recent terrible attack on a synagogue in Halle, and against the backdrop of a rise in the far right in Germany and across Europe; a hatred for Jews, Muslims, immigrants and all minorities festering away in the dark reaches of our societies that is higher than it has been since the end of WWII. Although the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago, many literal and imagined walls between communities in Germany and across the world remain.
This new SNS series is entitled “Letters To My Neighbour” and aims to be an ongoing series of reviews and conversations looking at Palestinian and Israeli literature, past and present. The title of the series is inspired by the book that is first up in this series - ‘Letters to my Palestinian Neighbour’ by Yossi Klein Halevi. Literature is multifaceted and serves many purposes - from the basic entertainment we all seek to deeper attempts to bridge gaps, open closed eyes and speak to others in a different language.
Note: Solutions Not Sides makes no attempt to reconcile or support any of these films or the narratives they show, but we believe it is important to understand each side’s perspective and the way that their society presents and understands events.
You can find Part One here.
‘Unsettled’ (2007) Adam Hootnik