Arts and Media
"Our story is how an ordinary good boy encounters the circumstances in Hebron and what he does there. We want people to understand what the occupation is, beyond the newspaper headlines. We want to reflect it through a soldier's eyes: how your senses are gradually dulled, how you cross red lines, what the moral cost is."
Yehuda Shaul was brought up in a Jewish Orthodox family in Jerusalem. At the end of his military service, which included serving in Hebron for fourteen months, Yehuda founded Breaking the Silence together with other Israeli soldiers from his unit. Breaking the Silence collects and publishes the testimonies of Israeli soldiers who served in the Territories during the second intifada, calling on the Israeli public to face the price of occupation.
"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.
"We know so much more about what is going on in America than in any given place on earth, and we don't know anything about those who really live next door. So for me that is really the number one task of what we are trying to accomplish."
When she was nine years old, Orly Noy immigrated to Israel from Iran during Iran's Islamic revolution. Now the spokesperson of Ir Amim, she was the Hebrew language host and producer at All For Peace radio, a station with a staff of Israelis and Palestinians. Before joining All for Peace radio, Orly worked providing care for mentally disabled people and the elderly. She and her husband have two children, and their oldest daughter attends the bi-lingual school, where Israeli and Palestinian children are taught in Arabic and Hebrew.
"There is tremendous resonance when people hear that even in the darkest times we are still meeting and dealing with these issues, and there are Israelis and Palestinians ready to work together. It projects the fact that there is still hope and possibility. The average person is busy going about his daily life. Not everybody is in a position to devote time and energy to what I consider to be the primary challenge of our generation: achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
Hillel Schenker is the co-editor of the English language journal, the Palestine-Israel Journal. Each of the journal's four yearly editions explores a central theme in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through articles by Palestinian and Israeli writers. Hillel was a co-founder of the Peace Now Movement, and previously served as an editor of New Outlook Magazine.
"First it was curiosity. Curiosity to know the other. I have to know him. Who's that? Who are they? So this was the first thing— it wasn't about peace. Although I came to Ramallah with Oslo in 1994, I suffered a lot at the hands of the Israelis, especially in Lebanon. We were in Beirut when Sharon invaded and I was alone with my daughter. My husband spent his life fighting the Israelis, and he died for it. It's not so easy to make a 360-degree change. It has to be process, that's what I believe."
Ihsan Turkiyyeh is an actress and comedian with Palestinian Television. She has participated in numerous joint projects with Israelis and Palestinians, and currently works with the Arab-Hebrew Theatre in Jaffa. Along with a group of Israeli and Palestinian actors, Ihsan performs Viewpoints, a series of vignettes about the conflict, in schools throughout Israel and East Jerusalem. The daughter of Palestinian refugees, Ihsan grew up in Lebanon before moving to Ramallah.
"If you want to have real dialogue and real peace, it is very important to be confident enough to stand there and say, I am Jewish, I am Israeli, and you are Muslim or you are Christian or Orthodox or Catholic, Armenian, or Palestinian. It is very important to establish where we come from and not say, 'I am an Israeli woman who wants peace so I am willing to give up my narrative.'"
Kitty O. Cohen immigrated from post-war Europe to the newly established State of Israel in 1948 when she was twelve years old. After studying in the United States, Kitty took part in various dialogue experiences between Israelis and Palestinians during the late 1980's, including the Interfaith Association in Israel, and went on to design programs focusing on therapuetic aspects of dialogue.
"Peace in the political context here means two states, it means fair and just minority-majority relationships, it means the other side of a long process of acknowledging an injustice that took place, and going through a process that allows everyone to be able to let go of the past without feeling they've compromised their integrity."
Through Peace Child Israel, Melisse Lewine-Boskovich uses theater and the arts as a tool to foster dialogue between Jewish and Palestinian teenagers throughout Israel and East Jerusalem. Using a group process of creating dramatic pieces, the teenagers engage in dialogue about the conflict and their experiences living in it. The theater pieces are performed in Arabic and Hebrew for students and the public. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Melisse was a member of the radical Jewish Defense League, founded by Meir Kahane.
"I think that one day history will judge the role of media in our time of war, and what an important role it plays in making wars happen. The media lets people believe that wars are possible— leads them to believe that it is the right solution, and the only solution. People don't know enough about other solutions. But then it will be too late for a lot of people."
Rutie Atsmon is the founder and director of Windows, a joint Israeli-Palestinians organization. Its goal is to promote understanding and reconciliation through educational and cultural programming. One of the organization's primary projects is a youth magazine in Arabic and Hebrew produced by Israeli and Palestinian children. Windows also distributes clothing and provides humanitarian aid to people in villages in the Tulkarm area.
"Use words instead of swords... You can either beat me up and get what you want, or you can talk to me and get what you want, and more."
Salwa Abu Libdeh studied Arabic Literature and worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming a news anchor with the Palestinian Broadcasting Company. She worked on a joint Palestinian Israeli German project that made a documentary film about life on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.