Exposing Israelis Beyond the Wall

by Eyal Rozin, an Israeli Parents Circle – Families Forum member

I recently hosted a Parents Circle Dialogue Meeting in my home.

I took part in the Parents Circle’s Parallel Narrative Experience (PNE) a few months ago. The PNE is an intense process of meetings between Israelis and Palestinians to get to know each other.

The feelings during the meetings ranged from despair to hopefulness. Our hope is that Israeli and Palestinian participants will maintain contact even after the completion of the project.

One of the goals of hosting a Dialogue Meeting is to expose other Israelis to what is happening “beyond the wall.”

A bereaved Israeli and Palestinian member facilitate the meetings. They start by telling their personal stories and of the loved one they’ve lost. After that, there is a dialogue with the audience. The facilitators at our meeting were Adi Kahlon and Ahmad Al Jafari. The two eloquent speakers illustrated in their stories both sides of the conflict.

Ahmed intrigued the listeners with his life story. The reality he described was unknown to the audience. He described his daily life in the early 1980s as a boy in the Deheishe refugee camp, where he was born and raised. He spoke about the daily tension with the soldiers. Before Ahmed was 18, he participated in protests. That led to 4 years in an Israeli prison. Here, he had a change of heart. He never stopped believing in the Palestinian right to recognition and statehood. His belief in the justice of the cause never changed. But he decided to renounce the terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada. He also began to take part in the activities of Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle. Since then, he has devoted a lot of his time to bringing the nations closer together and to promoting nonviolent struggle.

These are very important meetings. They expose participants to an experience they wouldn’t have otherwise. This is certainly true for Israelis, who often do not know the Palestinian perspective. The meetings also create a desire to pass the story on. And who knows, maybe participants will feel encouraged to take part in more ways to promote peace.

Learn more about the Dialogue Meeting program.