Most of the wars that plague our world are between people who belong to different tribes. The barriers between them prevent any level of the trust needed to resolve their differences. All they know about each other is that the other guy is trying to kill them.
I have no expectation that in my life time war will go away. I do however see a movement towards people beginning to reach out across those barriers. We don’t read about that in the media because war sells better.
Most people today don’t see much progress, but I grew up in 1950 American, where almost everyone, American and Russian, were convinced we would have a nuclear war. They were wrong, Americans and Russians can share the same world without killing each other. America and China faced off in Korea, now we trade dollars, not bombs. Viet Nam is a vacation destination for many Americans.
I am use to being called crazy, and of course I can’t dispute that title in many respects, just not about the progress, however slowly , of the barriers starting to come down.
One site that is talking about enemies becoming Peacebuilders is “Just Vision”:
The first thing I notice on the Just Vision web site is that you have a choice of many languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.
There are also over 60 interviews with Jews, Palestinians, citizens of Israeli, the West Bank and Gaza, all trying to bridge the gap between their communities to be builders of Peace.
I have down a lot of cutting and pasting, these are long interviews. I don’t think I took any statements out of context. I have provided links so you can read the whole interviews.
Yehuda Shaul, Jewish citizen of Israeli, and former solider:
From his interview – http://www.justvision.org/en/portrait/76157/interview
“My name is Yehuda Shaul. I’m 25; I was born in Jerusalem and grew up there. My parents made aliyah from North America; my father is Canadian, my mother is from New York, and they met here.
“I studied at a high school yeshiva in a settlement in the West Bank,in Maale Michmash near Ramallah. My uncle was a settler in Gush Katif, my sister is a settler.”
“I don’t think you can come prepared for the reality in the Territories, but I can’t say I was surprised. There isn’t a moment when in retrospect I’d say, “Wow!” Nobody trained me to do what I did.”
“When we encountered Hebron and understood that settlers could do as they please and nobody would stop them – we started getting very mad and frustrated.
“I saw graffiti that said “Arabs to the gas chambers”, “Arabs to the crematorium” and I understood the horror of the historical context.”
“One day, we were ordered to weld shut Palestinian shop doors, and that was too much. We had a discussion about refusing to serve – we were about seven or eight people who considered refusing.”
“Three months before the end of my military service I had a moment of disillusionment.” “When I stopped thinking like a soldier and started thinking in civilian terms, things changed completely. It made no sense to send a Palestinian on the street to pick up a suspicious bag. “It made no sense to arbitrarily choose a person to die. Suddenly all this no longer made any sense. Shooting a grenade into a neighborhood made no sense, nor did entering a house and terrorizing civilians.”
“I want people to listen, ask questions, go deeper into what they hear. Every person can answer his or her own questions and decide how to respond given the moral reality we are describing. We reach out to Israelis and to international audiences but we stress Israeli audiences. I see circles of responsibility: at the core are the Israelis, and there are external circles of responsibility around them. From a historical perspective, we are all responsible for what is done in our name.”
Palestian Raed Hadar – http://www.justvision.org/en/portrait/76156/interview
“My name is Raed Al Haddar. I was born in Yatta,near Hebron. I completed my high school studies in Yatta. During my final exams I was pursued by the occupation forces for a year and spent three years in Hebron’s central prison. After my release I went to Bir Zeit University where I studied sociology. After completing my studies at Bir Zeit I settled in Ramallah, where I have been living for the last thirteen years. I am married and have two daughters.”
“During the final high school exam period I was on my way home with a friend when we came across an Israeli army patrol. A group of us began throwing stones when we saw the jeeps. The stones we threw didn’t even make it halfway to the jeeps, but that didn’t stop an Israeli soldier from shooting my best friend dead.”
“I looked for ways to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the occupation forces in order to avenge my friend’s death. The means we used at the time against the occupation were demonstrations and stone throwing. Later on we managed to develop Molotov cocktails, and occasionally, somebody would open fire on some army units”
“We tried to produce bombs, but we had an accident and one blew up while we were working on it, injuring the hands of one of my friends. The information eventually reached the Israelis and one person from our group was arrested” “Eventually we were captured, and after being interrogated at length we were put in prison for three years.”
“All of these experiences hadn’t changed my view of the conflict and my attitude towards resisting the occupation. I was convinced we had to end the occupation by force and violence because there simply was no other way we could end it.”
“Almost two years into the second intifada my views began to transform.” “First of all, I had never previously had the chance to meet an Israeli. I didn’t know Israelis and had never dealt with them, talked to them or even considered how they might think.” “After meeting them, I discovered there were some Israelis who are very decent and have sincere and balanced positions and agree with the Palestinian right for a state and self-determination. They believe in the Palestinian right to live like any other people.”
“There are many Israelis with balanced and realistic political views, and I respect them for that. On the other hand there are many Israelis who hold extreme views whom we can also influence through our work. The fact that an Israeli soldier who used to think he was defending his country and didn’t regard what he did as occupation can change his mind indicates that to a certain extent there is an acceptance of changes in opinion among the wider Israeli public. In the future this public may apply pressure on the Israeli government and establishment. This could lead to the shortening of the occupation and progress toward a two-state solution. Palestinians may begin rethinking their philosophy of resistance and actions such as bombings inside Israel.”