“My name is Khaled Jumaa, I work as a teacher in a Palestinian High School and I live in Al-Arroub refugee camp near Hebron. I participated in the Parallel Narrative Experience in a group of mental health professionals.
Participating in the narrative project was a very powerful experience for me, since I never thought I would sit in Palestine with a group of Jewish Israelis willing to listen and discuss the rights of the Palestinian people.
I was pleasantly surprised by the empathic reactions of the Israelis as the Palestinians shared personal stories and difficult experiences they experienced from the occupation soldiers.
During the program, we went through two tours as part of studying the national narratives of both sides. The first tour was to Lifta, an Arab village whose residents were deported in 1948. The tour of the village evoked a deep sadness in me. It made me remember the descriptions and stories my father used to tell us about his village.
The second tour of the program took place at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. The site tells of the Nazis’ actions towards the Jews during World War II. What I saw on the visit made me very sad and the pictures and descriptions left all of us, Israelis and Palestinians, in deep pain.
I hoped and expected from the Jews, since they are now a powerful and influential people, to not repeat acts of deprivation and to not oppress a powerless people. A question that goes around in my mind and I can’t find an answer to is: how can a people who have been through so much oppression, torture, discrimination, and racism cripple and discriminate another group of people?
The mutual meetings we did together in this group gave me a lot of hope. There is a real opportunity for coexistence if more people are given the opportunity to meet, sit face-to-face, and talk honestly.”
Next story: Osnat Ben Porat
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