“How will the Israelis receive my story of loss?”

Bereaved Palestinian mother, Lila Al-Sheikh facilitated her first Dialogue Meeting to an Israeli audience:

“Last week I facilitated my first Dialogue Meeting for an Israeli audience. I couldn’t sleep the night before because it was on my mind so much.  How will my story be received by the Israelis? How will they react to this type of meeting? I had concerns and questions and also excitement but also another feeling that I couldn’t quite place but is related to the fact that we, bereaved members of the Parents Circle, have taken on a great responsibility to carry the heavy messages of the loss of our children, our family members, not just our own, but of all of the members of the PCFF.

Every time the driver said we were getting closer, I felt my heart pounding harder. My co-facilitator, Iris Segev, who has been a member of the Parents Circle for many years and has extensive experience as a Dialogue Meeting facilitator arrived and I met her for the first time. This Dialogue Meeting brought us together so that we can give a talk full of real emotions and joint hope.

When I started speaking, I was tense and worried that they wouldn’t accept me as a Palestinian. In the beginning, standing in front of a totally Israeli audience was not easy for me.  And then we started to share our personal stories and about the Parents Circle in general. When it was the question and answer period, I understood that they were not seeing me as a lecturer, but as a Palestinian woman and bereaved mother, a member of the Parents Circle. I felt very much accepted and respected by the audience and was more at ease.

One woman asked a question that struck me in particular and caused me to think deeply before answering. She asked, “Do you believe that the future will be better and that there will be change?” This question touched my heart and after a few moments pause and thought, I answered without hesitation:  “Yes, there is change. I, Lila, sitting here before you, am not the same Lila I was a year ago. I joined the Parents Circle which has given me a new opportunity for a new life which released me from negative thoughts and emotions. The fact that I am here with my partner, Iris, and the joint confidence between us, this is the greatest proof that change is possible.”