I want to be proud of where I live. I want to be proud of being Jewish and Israeli. I want to fix it. I don't put all the responsibility for this change on the Jews. It's not just one-sided; it's not only the Jews who created this problem and they're also not the only ones who can solve it. So, yes, we have to do all the changing AND the Arabs or the Palestinians in the country have to come and find a way to make their demands palatable for the Jews to be able to answer them. They're not doing that right now. So I feel that it's a kind of expression, an opportunity to express our needs in the hope that we can in fact live in some semblance of order and honor on both sides. We need to go through a process and this is the process that I'm involved in; that was my background. I'm doing what I'm doing in Peace Child because that's where I am and I believe in it, as long as people coming out of this process will think that the other side is less monstrous.
I'll give you an example. Last weekend I was in Sakhnin and Misgav.
We had the show there and the show almost didn't go on. Why? Because when the parents heard that there was a fictitious tree, which is actually a girl playing a growing tree, and when they heard that there was a discussion about who's tree it is, some parents in Sakhnin said, "We're not sending our kids unless that play comes out saying that that tree and that land is ours, we planted it and it's ours. We're not letting our kids take part in this." This was the Arab-Jewish conflict in real time. Sakhnin is also [the site of the original] Land Day and it's very, very sensitive. But they had an absolute requirement, the condition that if that play wasn't going to have a major political statement that didn't, from their perspective, "distort the facts," then they weren't going to do it. We had to have an emergency meeting with school principals and the parents-only the Arab parents in this case because it would have never gotten done if we invited the Jewish parents, too. Peace Child has begun working with parents now, too. Last year we began, and this year we expanded. They were saying, "What do we get out of this?" "How do we profit by doing this?" I got upset, and I said, "You have 300 Jewish kids from Misgav who don't think the Arabs are monsters; that's what you got. That's your profit." At the end of the meeting I said, "Look, I want to say how I feel."
People always ask how you handle these things. Basically, you say how you feel. You ask, "How do you feel when you hear the Arabs say..." I never took a course. I took a short course in co-facilitation with Edy Kaufman
and Noah Salameh.
I went to the first session of the 100-hour course that they did together. Anyway, at the end I said to the parents in Sakhnin, "In Peace Child we try so hard to bring the Palestinian narrative and the pain and the anger to the fore, to center stage, and to honor it, which is more than almost anywhere, more than any Jews are doing these days. And we really try to do this honestly. And yet you're coming and saying that it's not enough because you want all or nothing. You want us to say that the Jews have no right to be here, that it's your land and get out."
Basically that's what they were saying. It wasn't all the parents, and there were other parents from Sakhnin who actually moderated it. The school principal said everything can't only be one-sided, you can't only have your way with a bi-lateral group. So, I said, "It really makes me sad that that's what you want, no matter what we do to try and do the critical thinking it takes." And I said, "It's not easy for the Jews to hear this stuff, yet that's not good enough for you, you want it all." And what I didn't say but I thought about later is that this man, who was a little bit of a problematic personality in his own right, is a classic example that builds the case for the Jews who say, "They want it all, why bother talking to them." Meaning, no matter where they are, inside the Green Line, outside the Green Line. There's a huge number of Jews who say that they [Palestinians] want it all, you can't trust them. He had a few issues, basically he wasn't a maniac, but he needed this to be so clear.
They need to go through a process where they need to let that go, they have to let that go. I'm not going to give it all up; I'll do everything to make this place a place where I can feel honored, for my own self, that I'm not generating pain for other people, for the minority that I'm coexisting with. But I'm not going to let it go and if that's what you want then we're not on the same page. That's where we get back to what we're working on, this whole field, which I take issue with on a couple levels.
Cross-border folks [people working together from opposite sides of the Green Line] who work in this field have pretty much arrived at an agreement: two states for two nations, a two-state solution.
The ones who are still talking or doing peace building agree on that. They agree. They may not totally agree on the refugees and right of return,
but basically most of them agree to two states. There are many people inside the country for whom that is not a solution. For Arabs and Jews inside Israel who are working on bi-lateral processes with adults or kids, I can say for sure, there hasn't been a reality check to see if we're on the same page. What do we want to see at the end of the day? The reason there hasn't been one is that they're afraid that if they had that process, everything would fall apart, and it probably would.
I do not think that Arabs and Jews who are doing this work together are on the same page and therefore there's something dishonest about it. Now, that could be their survival mechanism, and it's better to be talking than not talking at all, but there's still something not right about it. It's not clean. I'm an intuitive person and I have instincts. Some people are really way out there, like this woman I was working with who's a psychic. She thinks I'm a channel. I don't go that far, but I'm pretty sure when I have these instincts they're right. I have a lot of things I call myself on for my weaknesses, but there's something that I'm pretty right on about. I don't think it's a clean process that we're in here, and I think it needs to be addressed. I've been saying that for 3 or 4 years at this point. We need to get all the people who work in the field together and have a process and ask ourselves what we are doing. Because people are going off in many directions... there's a gap among members of the field. It's not simple, it's so complicated and it involves people who know each other and want to like each other. Like the kids, who want to love each other, but on a day of a pigua [an attack] they want to hate each other and they're confused. "Well, I can't hate them because I like them." This is the insane context that we're doing this work in.