Aqabah, Jordan, December 2004.
"Peace and Reconcilliation. The role of women in Peace in the Middle East"
A Palestinian Israeli Dialogue.
Today we watched a movie called "My Terrorist".
Everyone was heading to Amman, and though i had realy wanted
to was dead beat. incredibally draining day. mentally we
emotionally we kolo.
so i crawl into the audotorium to watch the movie and slouch
and curl into a seat upfront where no one can see me. Along
with the 30 something other israelis.
the palestinians were having a meetings to take stock of the
catastrophees of the day.
the movie was by and about this woman, Uli.
she joined the israeli army at teenage (the usual time the
israeli youth are drafted) she was a sixth generation
israeli (her great grandparents moved there from algeria
over 150 years ago). she loved her 'zion' and was very proud
She has flicks and shots of all she experienced as seh
fought for her zion. it stopped at teh sabra and shatilla
war. which she shot enough of to want to make you wrench
till you're dry to the bone. with as much as i've seen of
shatilla born in mind.
after that seh quit the army, feeling sudden powerful shame
of being israeli.
she became an air stewardess. and in an incident in the 80's
was shot at by a young man who boarded the plane, aw a bus
on the way to the plane. a few people were killed, including
the person right beside her. she lost part of her finger,
testified against the guy in court, adn got on with her life.
23 years later, and at teh handshake on teh white house lawn
in 93, she decided to make peace with her enemies as well.
so she gets in touch with the guy in jail, they start
writing to each other..
seh wants to make peace with him, becuase seh said she
always felt taqht the sudden eruptures of violence, teh
suicide bombings and any other aggression men teh
palestinian side has only been a reaction to the israeli
conduct. they've accounted for no less.
She meets a woman on a talk show, that lost her daughter in
a similar incident.. on a school bus methinx. the woman
attacks her relentlessly on teh talk show and at later
events on the movie.
how cna you let him go?! how can you encourage him? make him
feel what he did was ok?! give him a chance to do this
agtain and again..
incase i didn't mention this, uli was struggling with
herself mainly becuase seh wanted to try to affect his
release men prison somehow.
sometimes she felt very adamant, feeling sure, after orking
in teh west bank and witnessing the living conditions and
listening to Fahad (her aggressors) lifestory, that it was
her fault, the israeli's faults he had turned out the way he
had. the living conditions in Gaza and teh west bank proved
they were breeding terrorists..
At around september 2001, she was almost ready to write that
final letter to tell him seh would do all she could. and
then suddenly the twin towers in new york.
she was in the middle of writing him the letter when the sep
11th event struck.
she stood before her computer trying to finish it, and
struggling with her english as usual, the only thing she
could find to say to this person she had suddenly developed
so much compassion for was;
go fuck yourself.
throughout the movie they took us through several historic
events. rabin's assassination, how the people felt, how she
felt. an argument in teh street between both sides. a
protest in the street wtih both flags, teh handshake with
all it's reactions, zionists burning the palestinian flag..
fights in arabic, fights in hebrew.
they even got sadat as he visited the kenesset. i had heard
the speech, but i had only read about the istiqbal, and the
whole event, it was the first time i saw it manifest itself
outside my imagination.
they got eh famous royal trumpet reception, and sadat's
speech running, the kenesset's welcoem and promise for a
better tomorrow, all teh time getting shots of sadat's face.
maybe it looked heroic to them. maybe mosame7. to me it
looked sad. it looked tense. i felt so much tension myself,
again teh strong inclination to throw up.
maybe i felt for him, maybe it was just a culmination of the
events of the day.
after wanting to ask fahad to fuck himself, Uli starts
talkng to more and more of her friends.. and suddenly
the dvd rumbles, fumbles, stops, skips and dies.
and before i know it uli is standing infront of me , wanting
to present teh rest of teh story to the rest of us.
she's real!!! my first reaction, was to either cry or get up
and hug her..
someoen else who can't hate!
STOP. i restrain myself again adn again. regain composure
and wear the same sober expression i've had for the last few
hours. i'm indifferent. i am only here becuase i was tired.
i'm not affected.
maybe there's some strategy behind this that i can't see.
maybe there's something abotu the way she made the movie
that's supposed to make me sympathize wtih her. will not.
she starts taklng, very nervous, wringing her hands as she
does, her 'half a finger' catching my attention over and
the rest of the documentary talks a little about a book her
grandfather wrote about zionism, the return to zion, and how
contrary to belfour, contrary to justice and a number of
other issues, how the jews had mistreated teh original
settlers of the land.
after a few more consultations, she sent a letter to the
prisons/the government or something similar, asking for
the last she'd heard he'd been promoted. to a less intense
prison. not sure if her letter had anything to do with it.
it makes her more proud to be israeli , seh says. for the
first time in years. it's cost her alot, in terms of people
that are angry at her, teh fact that seh's become
it doesn't matter, as long as she's prouder to be israeli,
feels a stronger bond to her 'homeland' that is HERS and not
those Zionists' she hates so much.
howwa fee homeland beta3ha aslan? howwa fee 'zionists'
bas 6 generations,....
Today the day started with a few roundtable discussions,
starting with people introducing themselves. a good number
of the palestinian women spoke no english. which i believe
was criminal. not a fair representation AT ALL compared to
all the perfectly spoiken for israeli women.
gheyr keda ba2a, kol set we set, fee a viatnamese, or
american who spoke of how they 'felt their pain' becuase of
teh relatives they lost in Sept 11th.
wel israelies wel palestinians' speak of el ma2assi 3adi,
and dol kol ma wa7da feehom (whether she lost a sister, son,
husband, mother in law or cat) tedeeeeha se7.
wet3ayyyaaaat.. we tefdal maska el mike.
tab edee lelgambek!
one woman could also 'feel the pain' as her husband suddenly
committed suicide six years ago. but she learned how to
heal. adn they would too.
he worked at Ernst&Young you see.
At another workshop we were being taught 'dialogue skills'
in situations of conflict.
you were supposed to sit iwth someone and get them tot alk
to you abou the challenges of their everyday lives and keep
saying ' i haer you' as htey spoke. opening your heart as
i sat with an american woman.
and yup you guessed it.
she started takling, we mafeesh kelmeyteyn into teh
conversation, she was blubbering all over the place.
she says my heart's very open.
makontesh le7e2t afta7u aslan.
after we finsiehd, people were suppoed to comment on teh
the palestinians bursted one after the other about how the
israli's present were ones in teh peace movements. that
wasn't what we needed. what we need is ones from lihud
parties, from movements who opposed us who NEEDED to lsiten
the internationals kept retaliating with how they were
trying.. maybe this was a start..
although i had vowed not to speak during the conference. i
stood up at one point and said something like 'if th
ecommunication is effective enough, then it should be the
role of those present to take it up to those people taht
DON'T lsiten.. if they don't listen to us they will SURELY
listen to them.."
at dinner i was attacked severely by one of the palestinian
activitist i realy respect. she's studying law at teh
sourbone. actually i think she's taeching it kaman.
she told me the commetn itself was negligible. the tone i
had said it with was one taht seemed to inted to 'hadey el
nefus', is that why i had spoken up??
i thought about it for a while. i don't THINK so. but it did
SEEM like something i would do. without thinking 7atta.
fearing for my life, i denied it.
but what if i HAD wanted to hadi el nefoous??
we had a long conversation that stretched out in several
episodes during the day.
these were occuppied territories. everyone knew that. these
were people that came in, oppressed and mistreated the
original inhabitants of the land, and kicked a good number
of them out of their homes.
we had a situation right now that we HAD to make the best
of, true. bas we have to remember meen el ghaltan.
right now we're in a weaker position, we were weaker in
terms of economy, politics, social conditions.. the lot. the
least we could have are STRONG stances.
we have to know what we're entitled to. what our rights
were. we had to be strict about them and FIGHT for them. bas
more importantly and no matter how nice they are to us NEVER
EVER be apologetic.
1st generation, 2nd generation, 3rd or 6th generation,
doesn't realy matter. they're there, and we're here, adn
there are facts and figures and a history of violated rights.
unless we knew what our rights were and fought for them, no
matter how 'nice' our opponets were , we would never get
back what was ours.
earlier today in the openign ceremony. a lady from the
kenesset gave a presentation about all the events men 48
until that very day, all the attempts for peace adn her
analysis for why they didn't work.
why the palestinians couldn't believe in peace.. why teh
israelis had lost hope.. how the terrorist had come about
and how the israeli's reatliated with the barriers.
sounded uncomfy. bas made sesnet.
as soon as seh finished, a palestinian woman, well dressed,
well groomed, stood up and very respectuflly, very loudly
and assertively asked the memebr of the kenesset, to watch
her words and revise her facts well, seh pointed out a
number of facts adn figures taht were incorrect, some as
accurate as numbers, others as arguable as
"the barriers were NOT there to retaliate palestinian
aggression or acts of terror. they were there by default.
the palestinians 'act of terror' were the reaction to years
of crime, mistreatment, and injsutice..'"
she spoke with SUCh energy and assertiveness that i CANNOT
i know it should be normal and 3adi ya3ni, ma this is her
life she's speaking of..
bas bardo, there was so much power in it it made me shrink.
the kenesset woman said nothing.
later on teh president of a palestinian university came up
to speak and started showing pictures of every day life in
gazza adn the westbank..
the pictures ofcourse were ones of hardship, loss, sandess,
anger, pain, death, terror...
all hell broke loose.
the isralie women started satnding up to protest, to recount
what all THEIR women had to go through, and the palestinians
spared no words.
we split into teh workshops. i attended the one on
mobilizing civil society for justice.
samah the girl that was lecturing me earlier about knowing
my rights was incredible.
the workshop/discussion took place in a room very much like
the blue room, a round table keada metfaragha fel noss.
adn everytime seh got a chance to speak she would crawl
under the table and stand in that empty space adn walk
aruond and thrash her arms..
she always spoke with SUCH force and SUCH reason, that no
one could find fault with her.
fcourse some people used to snigger or make sounds to
discourage her, but no one could realy SAY anything..
she was powerful in her conviction and the clarity of her
they discussed and argued over the single/double state, the
refugees, teh settlments, 7ammass, the borders, the
wall, '67, '93, the 242 resolution, right of return, geneva
they would agree on certain points and argue on a million
although i was impressed at first at the number of issues
both sides seemed to see eye to eye on, the idsucsion would
keep going in circles like every single arab one i'd ever
the reason i worry about our going anywhere.. is becuase i
CANNOT see the 'peace'. i cannot see them living in harmony.
i cannot develop ANY vision for a solution.
i cannot see it.
peace needs two parties on an equal level, trying to
negotiate for common grounds.. or at least common grounds
they an agree on. we ba3deyn kol wa7ed ye-sprout ma3 nafso
these are NOT two equal parties. any 'peace' now on teh part
of the palestinians means more compromise, more loss, less
land, less hope, less life.
for the israeli's the call for peace is simply their asking
for security in a land they are well settled in. they're not
going anywhere.. they just want to make sure they live wehre
they are in safety.
for the palestinians it means, securing a land to live in
aslan, it means the quesion of wehther or not they can come
back home, wehther or not they can go to work/home/school
without having to be embarassed, hurt, or humiliated..
(Some are asked to pull pants and shirts down at the check
points.. this is only a meagre example i remembered someone
And yet, i cannot see the palestinians with a single unified
vision as to what could be done. not the palestinians in
ramallah, wala those in bethlehem, wala those in gaza,
jereusalem, shatilla or jordan...
a friend of mine in lebanon, who's actually a powerful
activists, says he'll fight with all he has for the right of
return. once he has it, he's staying in lebanon. and wants
NOTHING of palestine sa3et-ha.
the israeli's always seemed to have a clear vision. they
must have. they've not only developed themselves as an
automous state with an economy to speak for itself, bas have
abbo 3ala wesh el donya in a way that comes across as spick,
span, smart and successful.
they've outdone a number of us.
they've been very pragmatic at waht needs to be done and how
it needs to be done..
we , on the other hand are still throwing stones, raising
fists, and making grand speeches.
i was talking to a guy from ramallah, and he was teling me
that everything was perfect before the intifadah..'we were
jsut another occupied country. 3adi ya3ni, it was just
normal coloniolism.. the nightmares staretd AFTER '87...
what has the intifidah brough any of us.."
i was realy upset. i kept arguing for those in Gaza, and
those in teh camps, how COULD he forget them.. the intifadah
for me, regardless of what else it signifies was RESISTANCE..
he smield at me as if i was naive. that's all great. bas
where has it gotten him.
he's a great guy. he's fighting for his palestine; bas he
just wants to live...
where does this leave me? unable to hate.
i'm trying hard.
a number of events that took place today call for nothing
less than that.
a number of events that took place around me, others that
have eben recounted to me, and others taht are linked to the
hope for any 'just' future.
i could not hate teh person who stole my shoes 2 months ago,
to punish him, even if it was just long enough to threaten
them to return it. i could not hate my colleague at work for
fabricating stories to get me fired. i couldn't even resent
her enough to adeeha kelmeteyn or undo the damage.
i can't hang on to the anger for too long.
this time ba2a, MESH 7a2ey. not at all. i either take a
strong stance, or i step COMPLETELY otu of th epicture.
i can't do the latter as this is one of the causes i have
grown with, that's grown wtih me, in me and about me. it's
always been somthing i beleived in to teh CORE of me.. on a
social level, politilca level, relgious level, humanitarian
level, and lately withe cairo to camps, and making so many
friends, a very personal level.
i treid to drench myself in enough stories adn real life
encounters and experiences to stregnthen my resolve to anger
me enough, to HARDEN me to LASH OUT!
why can't i hate??
After the long talk wtih samah today, that left me unable to
smile at a single one of these women..
i walk into the movie and emerge a complete mess.
uli seems to be the only person in teh WORLD i can relate to
at the moment.
and the one person i CANNOT speak to.
why can't i hate?
why so incompetent keda?