West Bank/Gaza/E. Jerusalem
"I believe in nonviolence and peaceful resistance even more because it helped us achieve something… Large amounts of land were supposed to be confiscated from the people of Budrus but because of these demonstrations they were only able to take a small portion of the lands that they planned to take, and they moved the Wall to the Green Line… Any theory needs to be tested and if it succeeds that means it is effective."
At the age of 15, Iltezam launched a women's contingent part of the unarmed movement in Budrus. She was the first villager to succeed in getting past the Israeli border police and stopping a bulldozer. Her fearlessness galvanized the entire village and affirms the importance of women in the movement. The demonstrations in Budrus marked the first time that Iltezam, like most of the village’s youth, met Israelis who were not soldiers or settlers. Watch interviews of Iltezam in Just Vision's film, Budrus.
"We can't wait for someone to come and liberate us or give us a state; we need to fight to achieve such things. The method we use is nonviolence, because nonviolence is not only a means of resistance, but of individual empowerment and thus the empowerment of society to take initiative."
Inspired by his uncle Mubarak Awad's leadership in Palestinian nonviolent resistance, Sami Awad founded the Holy Land Trust in 1998 to promote Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. Holy Land Trust initiatives include training workshops, participation in local nonviolent campaigns, and seeking increased media coverage for nonviolent resistance. Holy Land Trust also runs summer programs in which internationals live with host families in Bethlehem, study Arabic and volunteer with Palestinian organizations.
"The daily deterioration of the environment is what drives our work. Environmental issues can't be put off until a regional understanding and a peace agreement are reached. Widespread pollution is still taking place in many areas, and in a few years the land we have been fighting over for hundreds of years will become inhospitable."
Nader Khatib's work focuses on the protection of natural resources as a basis for prosperity and stability in the Middle East. An emphasis of his work is the scarce resource of clean water, the preservation of which requires the cooperation of Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian authorities.
"People want to live, even while they wait for the issue of Jerusalem to be resolved. Health and quality of life are linked with a solution."
Ismaeel Hamoud works with Bimkom, an organization which seeks to make community participation and human rights a central part of urban planning. Bimkom provides legal advocacy, planning consultancy and educational materials to communities and political leaders to promote planning rights. Ismaeel works primarily in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, where he is the liaison between the community and Bimkom.
"If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you won't find them on my program, nor will you find ideas for short-term strategies. From my show, you will acquire ideas that change you into a responsible person, into a leader."
Nasser Laham was born and raised in Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem and is the Chief Editor at Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem. He anchors a daily TV news program which translates the Hebrew evening news into Arabic for Palestinian audiences. Nasser promotes responsible media coverage of the conflict through humanizing the subjects of the news and reporting on both sides' reactions to events. Nasser served multiple prison sentences in Israeli jails during the first intifada before becoming a journalist.
"The first time I felt that I really needed to do something about the conflict was when I opened the Al-Quds newspaper and saw on the front page a picture of a little girl named Iman Hijjo, who was killed by a missile two years ago. I opened more pages of the same newspaper, and I read about a bus bombing in Israel. There was another little boy who lost his eye because of the explosion. I looked at the two children's stories and I thought to myself, 'We have a problem. There are children on both sides that are dying.' As an individual Palestinian or Israeli, you won't be able to influence the governments, but you can feel that you are being effective by being part of an organization or project that works to restore trust between the two peoples."
Adele Zumot has been a radio broadcaster at All for Peace Radio since it was established in 2004. All for Peace Radio, a project of Givat Haviva and Biladi, is a joint Palestinian and Israeli radio station that broadcasts in both Arabic and Hebrew. Before joining All for Peace, Adele hosted shows on local Palestinian radio station such as Radio Bethlehem and Love and Peace Radio and trained at the Israel Radio's Arabic service. Her shows address both political and social issues.
"I believe that if you're not doing something, then you accept reality, and if you accept reality, then you agree with the fact that the only solution is for us to keep killing each other. It's hard for me to understand how you can accept something like that. One should do whatever he or she can to change the situation. Even if there is a tiny bit of hope, I think it is better to try to do something than sit there and do nothing."
Aziz Abu Sarah joined Fatah's Youth movement after losing his brother, who died shortly after his release from Israeli prision. Aziz published many angry and vengeful articles in the organization's magazine. Years later, Aziz and his family agreed to attend a meeting of the Bereaved Families Forum. Aziz is now a member of the Forum and co-hosts a show on All For Peace Radio; he also runs an organization aimed at empowering Palestinian youth.
"The hardest part was to meet with people from the other side despite all the pain they caused us. It was difficult to clear our hearts of hatred, have a clear conscience and face the other side with forgiveness. It isn't easy to control ourselves; this requires strong determination, deep belief and a high level of forgiveness."
Three years ago in Bethlehem, George Sa'adeh, his wife Najwa and their two daughters were driving home from the supermarket. Israeli soldiers opened fire on their car, killing twelve-year-old Christine. Less than a year later, George joined hundreds of other Palestinian and Israeli families in the Bereaved Families Forum who work together for reconciliation and against violence and occupation. He is a school principal in Beit Sahour and recently became the deputy mayor of Bethlehem.
"As Palestinians inside Israel we have a big role in the conflict and should be the link between the two sides. We should be more active because we are part of a society that struggles for its freedom and at the same time we are citizens of Israel. We enjoy the geographical position and the unique possibility to be part of a pioneering leadership for a better future and real peace. We speak two languages and have two voices."
Khulood Badawi became active in the struggle to secure the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the 1990s when she was a student at the University of Haifa. She is involved on a leadership level in many Jewish-Palestinian organizations in Israel which hold meetings, demonstrations, and seek to raise awareness about Palestinian realities on both sides of the Green Line. As a field researcher for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Khulood consolidates information about appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court concerning the wall.
"Through our analysis of Palestinian and Israeli curricula, we have found that both sides tell one-sided stories. I am not saying that the Palestinians wrote their narrative, however, as this was the narrative presented in the school curriculum written by the Jordanians and Egyptians. There is not even a proposition to listen to the other's story or learn about how the other thinks. Another issue is that neither curricula pays attention to the eras of peace and co-existence that once existed between Palestinians and Jews. Rather, both curricula are limited to discussing wars, immigration, revolutions and attacks."
Through his work with PRIME, Sami Adwan is pioneering an educational model that enables both Palestinian and Israeli educators to create school history curricula that includes both historical narratives in a single textbook. Sami was born in a village north of Hebron and finished his PhD. in the United States. He has published widely on the role of education in peacebuilding.