“It didn’t come down with Moses from Mount Sinai and it isn’t something that Mohammad brought – it is in the hands of human beings. I would like each side to recognize the legitimacy of the other side to live on at least part of its national dream and accept a compromise. There is no other choice."
Nava Hefetz is the Director of Education at Rabbis for Human Rights. In her role, she works with Israeli communities to expose them to the reality of the Occupation, examining its repercussions from a Jewish-universal standpoint. Nava also coordinates an Israeli-Palestinian womens group that meets in Jerusalem.
"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.
"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.