Personal stories of Israelis and Palestinians who took part in the Parents Circle Forum narrative project
Interviews by Yigal Mosko
* Except for Nasri Sabarna's story
Bushra Omer Abu ayash
The young man in the tiny photograph I carry around my neck is my son Mahmoud. Mahmoud was eighteen when he was killed by Israeli soldiers. There are people in my town who accuse me of selling my son's blood by going to meetings with Jews. I tell them that in so doing I am buying the blood of my remaining children. My objective is to protect them, and I believe that the best form of protection is peace.
Dan (Dano) Monkotowicz
If they knew at my son's cheider (traditional elementary boys' school for the study of Torah) that I go to meetings with Arabs, it would seem strange to them; it might even harm my son's shidduch (traditional matchmaking process) when the day comes because people will say that "he has a strange Dad, who is a member of a Jewish-Palestinian forum".
David (Dudu) Shilo
My first childhood memory is of the rain leaking into our tin-made home in the ma'abara (refugee absorption camp for new immigrants). Along with the leaking house, I remember too the bedbugs that would make us all itch by night. The day I cried most was the day they shaved my head because of the lice, and on that same day, a neighbor's son stole my biggest treat: a piece of bread with margarine and sugar.
I cannot imagine a better place to grow up in than a new settlement: a small close-knit community, close to nature and the contours and curves of the land. One grows up in a sort of whirlwind, where every action taken is regarded with great pathos: "This is the first time after 2000 years of exile." From age seven I grew up in the settlement of Elkana in western Samaria.
Dheisheh Refugee Camp
Life in prison strengthened me. The prison warden treated us harshly, but the company of the other prisoners was good. In merit of the experience gained and ties formed during my prison time, I later became a central Fatah activist. I was one of the heads of the "Women's Committees" that founded kindergartens, summer camps and dance groups.
Imad Abu Nssar
As always, I walked up front in the demonstration in Bil'in. If one sees oneself as a leader, one belongs right up front. The demonstration turned into rock-throwing. The army tried to arrest me. A group of demonstrators acted as buffer and I felt how they were taking the blows instead of me. After things calmed down, we - all those who had participated in the demonstration - sat down in a circle. It was then that I discovered that those who had protected me with their own bodies were Israelis. For me it was a big surprise.
Jamal Ibrahim Mukbal
At that time my parents were in Jordan with my brother who had undergone medical treatment. On PLO Radio, broadcasting from Lebanon, it was reported that I had been killed. My father arrived in the Al-Makassed hospital in Jerusalem immediately. There were loads of people there; some were crying. He made his way past them and suddenly discovered me alive.
Bet Omar. Edited by Nasri Sabarna
The important thing is that I found Eliaz attentive to my suffering as a Palestinian. He is the only settler I meet with. It did not change my view about settlers: they have ruined my life and the future of my children. I think I did change some of the views of settler Eliaz Cohen regarding the way in which the conflict can be solved. I know I cannot change his entire worldview, but one must toil for the sake of peace.
I was born in Hadassah Mt. Scopus hospital on November 24th, 1947. My mother stopped nursing me during the War of Independence, when I was 6 months old. Jerusalem was under siege then. I was underweight and the doctor said I would die if I did not eat, so mother and I were transferred to Tel Aviv in one of the convoys.
Randa Abo Saymih Halhul
I was born in 1978 in the town of Halhul (Hebron), the sixth of ten children. My first recollection of Jews is from age five or so - my aunt running into our house because soldiers had seen her on the street during curfew. The soldiers entered our home, beat up my father and tied him to a tree outside. While searching for my aunt, one of the soldiers discovered my older sister, who was 16 at the time, hiding behind some furniture. The soldier signaled to her to continue hiding and did not give her away.
Tamar (Tami) Cohen
My parents were members of The Haganah. My mother was in charge of a group of girls who dealt in weapon maintenance and we had a slik in our home. On the other hand, there were also Arabs, friends of my parents, who visited the house. My father, who could read and write fluently in Arabic, had an Arab partner from Acre who would often come to our house, as we would go to his.
I was born in the Tel Nof airbase, where my father served as fighter pilot, squadron commander and deputy base commander. Growing up on a military base seemed the most natural thing in the world, and was not associated with war in any way. We could identify the different types of planes by sound, and our favorite pastime was watching "Eichmann" - the tall jumping tower from which soldiers would jump during their parachuting course. All in all, we had the feeling of belonging to the elite; being the daughter of a pilot was an honor.
Yoni Ra'anan Kallai
The Palestinians in the movement are required not to take part in violent activity of any kind, and the Israelis are required not to serve in the territories. I continue serving in reserve duty, and I do not believe that I will be serving in the territories as part of the activity of my reserve unit; however, if I were required to serve there, I have no idea how I would react.