For years I’ve admired the work of groups like Roots – Shoreshim – Judur, Seeds of Peace, Parents Circle _ Families Forum, Combatants for Peace, Tech2Peace and The Home’s Cleaning the Hate activities.
They actively bring Israelis and Palestinians together because they understand that it is only at that one-on-one level that change can happen.
But I wondered how this slow and small trickle could create enough of an effect or create enough momentum to make a bigger impact.
When I read how author Yossi Klein Halevi invitation to dialogue after the first edition of his book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor came out was answered by Professor Mohammed Dajani Douadi, who authored his own approach to education called Wasatia (Moderation), I wrote about their vision. And started daydreaming about how the two could spear a much needed movement.
Daydreams aside, the issue is still the same – that the overwhelming number of people aren’t having necessary discussions or actively pursuing what coexistence should look like.
And that’s why I was so thrilled to find out about an alliance I never knew existed. In this piece for an Australian publication, Plus61J, which “focuses on Israel and the Palestinians, the Middle East region and …is pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-human rights and supports a two-state solution,” Ittay Flescher wrote about the online conference called Shine a Light. It was put together by something called the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP). They are a global network whose membership is made up of more than 125 peacebuilding NGOs. Not only do they also help seed their members with volunteers (that is, they work with Embodying Peace; people can apply for its grassroots peacebuilding fellowships to work with partner organizations from anywhere in the world), but they bring together smaller voices to create a louder chorus. This is most meaningful to me.
Numbers matter. In a world where social media amplifies individuals voices and snowballs hate, and anti-Zionist groups drown out the voices of active peacebuilders, it is even more important to harness the ways to reach more people.
Coalitions and alliances matter. I think this is especially true with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I look at ALLMEP’s global advocacy, at Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, and at the backseat the conflict actually takes with Israeli political parties and want to see change. So that leaves e with a question: what needs to be done to transform current activities into political change? Can a party be convinced to stand on this activity as a platform? I honestly don’t know. But I think it’s past time for Israeli and Palestinian political parties to put peacebuilding front and center.