"My community is not outraged against the Israeli government because of human rights violations perpetrated against the Palestinian and the Bedouin populations. I live in a community that is in some ways very satiated; those things are done to make me feel more comfortable when I get on the bus, when I go to university, so that when I'm with my partner at a café I feel safer. There is an element of justification in every conversation with my community, and it's very, very present."
Devorah Brous founded Bustan, an environmental justice organization working primarily in Israel's Negev region with Jewish and Bedouin communities, and was its executive director for nine years. The word "bustan" (fruit orchard in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian) reflects traditional and diverse indigenous planting patterns of the region. Bustan plants and builds with low cost, sustainable technologies and advocates sustainable development that serves both Jewish and Arab populations, and promotes fair allocation of clean natural resources and community self-reliance.
"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.
"We view the Palestinians and ourselves as having fought for useless things. We struggle for security but simultaneously prevent it; they are struggling for a state but the suicide attacks prevent that; we are in transition to a state of refraining from violence."
After Itamar Shapira finished his military service in 2002, he joined Shovrim Shtika, a group of army reservists seeking to raise Israeli public awareness about the occupation's effect on soldiers and Palestinians. Later, Itamar joined his older brothers in Combatants for Peace, a joint organization of Israelis and Palestinians who formerly took part in the armed struggle and who are dedicated to non-violence and dialogue.
"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.
"Things were not nearly as good as they appeared to be in the summer of 2000, but they're not nearly as bad as they appear to be today. There's a viable city here [in Jerusalem]. It's not a utopian city; it's politically achievable, but it's not going to happen tomorrow morning. We are years away from a genuine political process in Jerusalem I believe, but I also believe that we're not decades away."
In January 2010, Daniel Seidemann founded Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli non-profit organization that works to identify and track developments in Jerusalem. Prior to founding Terrestrial Jerusalem, Daniel conducted legal work with Ir Amim, where he took on cases defending individuals, families and communities who were negatively impacted by the wall and the expansion of Jewish settlements in and around Jerusalem.