What were some of the questions people had when you were approaching organizations with ideas for a truth and reconciliation process? What were some of their hesitations?I was looking for a partner, I was looking for someone who could take it up and do something with it. The obvious source, I went straight to a Christian Palestinian organization based in East Jerusalem. Remarkable people, and they are talking about reconciliation, but the first thing they told me is, "first of all you have to agree with us on the political solution." I told them reconciliation is the way to allow people to agree to a two-state, or another solution, and we cannot force people to arrive at this conclusion: We tried, and it failed. We have to get people into the mindset. That's where it failed with that organization. And there are other organizations that are not talking about reconciliation because it is so novel, and because they are mostly involved in more traditional human rights monitoring and legal action. The people I talked to were supportive and said to me, "it's wonderful work but it's not our work, we do something else entirely." And I know that, they are correct. There are other kinds of human rights/peace NGOs who are working to document the atrocities and the violations and whatever, and it's very important, but they stick to the present, and in a way, it's like, you can chase the wind, but you have to do something else, you can only go so far by documenting - documenting will not prove effective in changing the feelings and perceptions that underlie our more rational conceptions of the opposed side to the conflict as well as the reasons for the conflict itself. I've recently been to a conference on soldiers' testimonies in which Dr. Daphna Golan Agnon1 was one of the participants. She was one of the founders of B'Tselem. In the final session she said, "You know, we don't need more testimonies. We really don't need more information; people know what the problems are. We need something else." And she is talking about the need for reconciliation. I didn't find a partner, and I was on the verge of starting my own organization, which I didn't want to do for many different reasons—I thought it wasn't the way to go. Finally I came up to the Parents Circle - Bereaved Families Forum. I knew them well, but for some reason I wasn't so sure whether they "fit." But they did. The Bereaved Families fit perfectly as a potential organization to lead a reconciliation process because they have the legitimacy of both nations, unfortunately, because of the situation, and they had been talking about reconciliation before. Their message is, 'no more pain, no more killings.' And this is exactly the message of reconciliation.
- 1. Founded B'Tselem and, along with others, Bat Shalom, the Women's Network for Peace. Lori, Aviva "Right to left, but never center " Haaretz, 12/14/04 www.haaretzdaily.com/