May 20, 2020

On Tuesday May 5th, Boston Partners for Peace hosted a webinar with leaders from Mabat, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on addressing the divisions between diverse groups of students on Israeli college campuses. The webinar featured Founder Daniel Langenthal, Executive Director Lior Shorer and Mabat alumni and current facilitator Ameen Hardan. They discussed why they think Jewish and Arab students on Israeli campuses have a misperception of each other, how their organization attempts to change that, and why they think it is important to focus on Jewish-Arab relations specifically on college campuses.

Daniel said that he came up with the idea of Mabat after serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and living in different parts of Israel. He said his experiences revealed to him that many people in Israel, especially Jews and Arabs, have a misperception of the “other”, and felt it was important for them to better understand the other’s “perspective” (Mabat in Hebrew).

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April 2, 2020

In February, Boston Partners for Peace began a book club series where several young Jewish professionals throughout Boston gathered to discuss Yossi Klein Halevi’s “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbors” and the letters written in response to him by Palestinian readers. The program consisted of three meetings between February and March among three different groups in Somerville, South Boston and Brookline. I participated in the Brookline group and, after reflecting on our discussions, there were three noteworthy themes we came away with: the importance of empathy, how dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians might be structured, and what the role of American Jews in Israeli-Palestinian peace activism may be.

Yossi often talked about how Israelis’ and Palestinians’ different Israeli and Palestinian narratives are at the core of the conflict, and it is therefore important to understand and empathize with each other in order to prepare for a peace agreement. When we discussed about the rol...

September 4, 2019

In a recent post, I discussed the role of Israelis’ and Palestinians’ conflicting narratives and the value of people-to-people work. I argued that bringing more Israelis and Palestinians together for dialogue sessions may help them overcome their competition over victimhood through empathy and understanding.

In my most recent trip to Israel-Palestine, I received a deeper understanding of people-to-people work and was able to put the theory to the test for myself. I spoke with several leaders of people-to-people grassroots organizations who told me about the work they do. I also participated in a tour program where I – an American Jewish Zionist – had dialogue with Palestinians living under occupation.

To put it short, my experiences did validate my theory that people-to-people initiatives can help promote peace and reconciliation, but not necessarily in the way I originally thought.

The first lesson I took away came from a discussion with Doubi Schwartz – Regional Program Officer of the A...

July 10, 2019

Can you name this city?

It has two distinct ethno-religious communities that are separated by a large wall. On one side of the barrier, you will find Israeli flags and graffiti depicting a narrative of a people who have suffered from terrorism and honoring the brave soldiers who have risked their lives to keep their people safe. On the other side, you will find Palestinian flags and graffiti telling a narrative of a people who have suffered from settler colonialism and have struggled for independence.

If you guessed Jerusalem, you would actually be mistaken.

The city I just described is in fact Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The people residing on the side with Israeli flags are not Jews, but British Protestants who fly the flag of Great Britain alongside the flag of the State of Israel. On the other side of the wall are not Palestinian Arabs, but Irish Catholics who fly the flag of Ireland alongside the Palestinian flag.

Last year, I traveled to Northern Ireland where I took a dual narrative...

June 19, 2019

This article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post on March 9, 2019.

Some of my peers said it might have been considered offensive when – in a Facebook post a few weeks ago mourning the death of Aiia Maasarwe – I referred to her as an Israeli-Arab rather than as a Palestinian. I saw this as an opportunity to not only clarify why I refer to the Arab community in Israel proper as Israeli-Arabs or Arab citizens of Israel, but also to discuss how I think the role of denial of identity is a core feature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 

There are approximately 1.7 million Arabs residing within the Green Line who possess Israeli citizenship, and they identify themselves in a variety of different ways. A 2015 poll conducted by Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha found that slightly over 60% of Arabs in Israel identify themselves as some form of “Palestinian,” while the nearly 40% identify themselves as some form of “Arab,” without affiliation to Palestinian national identity. The Arab Dru...

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