Palestinians and Settlers Neighbors meet in Gush Etzion

Here is a link to an article about the small village of Khirbet Zakariya, our "next door neighbors". I remember when this article came out a couple of years hurt me..deeply.

Many of the residents of the village work in the settlements, the area gas station, public insitutions, etc and relations always seemed so good. I heard stories about the good relations that existed between the village, particularly the village leader, Ibrahim, and the Jewish settlers of Gush Etzion prior to 1948- and i heard about how, recently the regional council made sure the these Palestinian employees would get permits to travel to Israel to to join the Jewish workers on company outings or for various meetings.

As we stop at their roadside stands to buy fruit we can very easily think that "all is well on the West Bank" least in our neighborhood.

But of course, we know nothing about what life in the village really is like. What kind of infrastructure they have or what building rights, if any, they have?

Stories, such as one about a settler who, during the height of the intifada arranged an ambulance and quick passage through a checkpoint to Hadassah hospital for a Palestinian from Zakariya make it so easy to blind ourselves to the trials and hardships of everyday life.

Over the years, as i was trying to do my bit offering rides to Palestinians on the road etc, i did not take the necessary leap of crossing the road to enter the village and really get to know what life is like there.

Over the past couple of years i did find opportunities to learn and finally "found the excuse" to visit the village when touring the area with Mohammed Abu Ayash, a Palestinian from the large nearby village of Beit Umar. I told my friends on the kibbutz about my experience. One of them, Eliaz, works at the regional council, began talking eyeball to eyeball with Ibrahim, the grandson of the old mukhtar, who is employed by the regional council. Eliaz realized that the good intentions of the Settler Regional Council chairman were no longer enough and decided to get active. Recently he visited the village and saw close up the situation of the mosque, the school and the housing.

Eliaz became another voice on the kibbutz. He approached senior members with the challenge: "We settlers believe we should develop this area as part of Israel? This means we must open our eyes to the people living here and address their problems!"

Other contacts were made with settlers from the Gush Etzion region who wanted to develop more personal ties with Palestinians in our region.Last week, in the small school building (with a tin roof...since it would not be "legal" to build it with a concrete roof about 50 people, Jews and Arabs spoke about the basic human desires we all share and together thanked G~d for the blessing of rain that also "joined us" as the meeting started.

After very pleasant and positive conversation I asked Mohammad, the old mukhtar's son, about the school we were sitting in, He calmly but firmly, laid out the problems of the village that can not expand to meets its most basic needs.

Rabbi Froman, who spoke so eloquently before said he could only respond with his admission of shame for such a situation.

The following words summarize the thoughts of Rabbi Froman and others at this meeting:

"We can become closer to each other with words..and these words can open the hearts. But goodness will only come if actions will grow out of our hearts. Our arms and hands, like branches that grow out of the heart must work to fulfill our good intentions. I can not promise success..but i can promise action"
Postscript: Since that meeting a horrendous act of arson was perpetrated at a mosque at Kfar Yasuf, far north of our region. Rabbi Froman, Eliaz and others from our group traveled to Kfar Yasuf today to meet the villagers, to give them new copies of the Quran to replace the burnt copies..and most importantly to actively show their desire for Peace and their disdain for acts of violence.

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Comment by Rx4peace on December 17, 2009 at 6:11pm
:) Myron. I'm really glad that you and I have this opportunity to get to know one another. I know that you and I both, truly, wish each other well and want the very best for one another, and hopefully one day it will be like that for both sides of our family.
Comment by myron joshua on December 16, 2009 at 8:37am
Rx4Peace, your words are a true blessing for me.
Comment by Rx4peace on December 15, 2009 at 3:33pm
Thank you Sabine. I agree that is only when we see "the other" as a human face, that we will truly understand. You can not be indifferent when you know that there is a person, a human being with feelings and emotions, someone who feels pain that is behind a name and an identity. We are not simply fighting over boundaries. We are fighting over lives. But all this fighting can never be justified. There are no justifiable killings!!!
Comment by Sabine Theresia on December 15, 2009 at 2:52pm
Thank you, Rx4peace, so much for you honest touching words! This dialogue by you and Myron is so valuable! Listening, seeing, opening windows for new perspectives, for understanding, for coming together. All these 'little' meetings, from person to person, are those steps letting the peace REALLY grow - on solid ground.
Thank you Rx4peace and Myron, for being lighthouses, for being peace!
Comment by Rx4peace on December 14, 2009 at 6:51pm
Thank you Myron for sharing this with me. Myron, I find myself realizing there are good Jews, and I need to make this statement because at times, it become difficult to ever imagine any Jewish person of wanting anything good for any Palestinian. We have suffered so much. We continue to suffer. There is a grave injustice being committed against us on a daily basis. It feels like an assault, and as such it is exceedingly difficult to have any sense of good feeling towards "the Jews" as a collective. I know that all of us have befriended a good Jew, a good Arab, but we continue to feel that they are of a minority. You and I had our own clash when we first got to know one another. After the war on Gaza, I could not ever imagine befriending an Israeli settler. It was unthinkable, the wounds were so raw, and it was your people who were responsible. You understand my perspective and my generalizations because that is what we do. We generalize. Since then I have become very attuned to a leftist, progressive, liberal Jewish viewpoint that has helped assuage my fears and my prejudices. There are some amazing Jewish people that should be an example to us all. We can learn from one another. We must emulate the example of those who try to even the playing field in a just and humane manner,and we must work together to make peace with one another. This will come from my seeing you as a human face, and you seeing me as a human face, and for us making our families, friends and loved ones see what it is that we see. It is also like the play you mentioned to me before,about the one baby with two families fighting over it. We need to raise the baby together. Your story has warmed my heart and filled me with hope. Happy holidays. Cheers.
Comment by myron joshua on December 14, 2009 at 2:47pm
Ahmed, Salaam <3

I know the people involved and i think they are sincere. There are many, too many, others whose words are not so sincere or who care more about holy books than people. Rabbi Froman has participated in Olive harvest with Palestinians, met with all the groups (including Sheikh Yassin)..(Maybe he is a bit naive :-) ?

You might be interested in the discussion at this Liberal American Blog where i have to deal with some challenging questions. I understand where they come from...and they are legitimate. Now i go to read the Blog master's own blog entry about this topic.

Best to you.
Comment by Ahmed Ata on December 14, 2009 at 1:27am
there is video in my page see it , what settler do for palestinian man unaramd ,and israeli aramy watch and
protect him
video name is zoinzem terror and the israel channel 2 brodcast it ,i think to carge to do more ,not for humanity reason
Comment by Clicia Pavan on December 14, 2009 at 12:00am
That friend, the voice of peace and union to be greater
Than the voice of violence
I feel sad because the two nations are brothers, sons of God and Abraham
Do not give up, be strong, the God of Abraham will not abandon them

The world is dealing with a portal that opens ....
Accept your past, their history and arm yourself of will to action.
Free and confident, walk to a new dawn
let's hold hands and ask for peace and love to the world
Unite all religions, all people of the world
all believers one in a voice
cry for the World
Peace love, patience, compassion, hope
Clicia Pavan
Comment by Michael J on December 13, 2009 at 11:52pm
Thank you for sharing this story. it's been a very long time for me to be back here on iPeace. But I got the email, remembered our long ago conversations and took the time to read. I am so glad I did. Just so you should know, I've gotten all involved with twitter for a couple of months. Very interesting and more fun than watching TV. It turns that I'm finding it a great research and idea testing tool. Frankly, I'm much too old (63) and cranky for "followers." And I long ago stopped "following" anyone for pearls of wisdom . That was my young person's mistake back in the 60's.

Now it's about the grand daughter, playing with ideas and finding wonderful stories that keep me from believing that humans are mostly monkeys with technology. In any case, I wanted to share a "tweet" I just did

@ToughLoveforX ( that's me)
Palestinians and Settlers Neighbors meet in Gush Etzion - IPeace || A hopeful story, especially for this time of year.

I hope all stays well and peaceful.

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