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...
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...
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...