I drove my car at seven pm. I had no idea what I would face ahead.
All I knew was that I was invited by a friend to attend a strange meeting with strange people who speak another language. All I knew was that I was about to meet with a “religious group”. To me it meant that they all have beards, hats (kippa) and side locks. My vision of those people was this: they are settlers living in Palestinian lands which were taken (as we were taught in school) from us, and that they always had their semi-automatic rifles at hand to shoot at Palestinians. I knew one person who would be there, the friend who invited me.
An hour later I reached Gush Etzion square. I called my friend, her friendly husband met me and we walked to the meeting point together. He took me to the Arab side, which was about two hundred meters away of the Jewish gathering. The Jews were preparing to perform their prayers. My friend introduced me to the group, which consisted of a few Palestinians and few foreigners. Suddenly, a rabbi by the name of Elhanan came. He told us that he wanted to speak for a little bit. He started by talking about his life in a settlement. Then he told us an amazing story: Elhanan told us: “once I met a Palestinian couple, a man and his wife. We had a conversation and I asked those couple about how they view me as a Jew. They started by saying that they have horrible views about me; that they imagine I took their land. That I have a gun and I shoot Arabs, they said when their kids saw his hat, his “kippa”, they start crying.“ “Then I told them that I had a vision that every single Palestinian I passed by is going to throw a stone at my car and cause me injuries or death” “I said: oh is that how u look at me?” And they said the same. We were both totally wrong.
They had a sense of humor and so did I. We had talked and became friends through understanding each other and we are friends to this day.” The rabbi resumed by saying “can’t we all be the same thing to each other? Can’t we live in harmony and peace? ” He talked for a few minutes but they were as useful as years of good treatment. His speech had turned my view about religious Jews 180 degrees. I thought to myself, I had false information and understanding of them. So the key is to not judge a person with out trying to understand and speak with them first. To not jump to the conclusions from the start. Don’t judge a book by its cover!
One of the Palestinians then started to talk about the suffering he had experienced as a teenager. He told us his story: “I was throwing stones during my adulthood, I was convinced at that time the stone would bring my land back. I was reckless, and I went to jail many times and then I figured out all was BS. I learned Hebrew and English at prison, and had discovered Mandela at that time, which influenced me deeply. Then when I got out of prison I told myself #peace and #rational thinking are our only salvation. And here I’m an activist who supports humanity to live in any peaceful way, Jews and Arabs.” After the two spoke we had the meal together since we both were fasting and that was the time to break the fast together…
Again I want to thank my friend for the invitation and I hope that we all can work to bring peace and justice to both of our people and live in a harmony, amalgamation and mutual Love… Amen
YaLa Young Leaders