Encounter Point Protagonists


Ali Abu Awwad

Ali went to Saudi Arabia in 2000-2001 for medical treatment after an Israeli settler shot him in the leg. While there, he learned that his brother Yusef had been killed by an Israeli soldier. Ali had spent years in Israeli prisons for actions like demonstrating against the occupation, throwing stones, and being a member of a political party. When Yusef was killed, Ali joined the Bereaved Families Forum to work with Palestinians and Israelis who together advocate nonviolence and reconciliation. Ali braves hatred of the "other" on both sides, and the stigma against those who work with the "enemy" as he spreads his message of nonviolent resistance throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, speaking with Palestinian militants and those threatened by Israeli settlers. Ali says that he will never forgive the soldier who killed his brother, but that he doesn't have to love Israelis to make peace with them. Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with Ali.


Robi Damelin

In 2002 a Palestinian sniper killed a group of Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint. Robi's son David was one of them. Robi is haunted by the loss of her son, and the knowledge that he was posted to defend an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory to which he was politically opposed. After David was killed, Robi joined the Bereaved Families Forum. She speaks in support of Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation throughout Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and internationally. Robi says that all of her work is aimed at furthering understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian people. Robi sees echoes of her childhood in South Africa in the Israeli occupation. Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with Robi.


Shlomo Zagman

For most of his life Shlomo lived in Allon Shevut, an Israeli settlement near Bethlehem. As a youth, he actively supported a political party that advocated deporting Palestinians to neighboring Arab countries, until a religious Jewish mentor convinced him that Israel's continued occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory endangers its future as a Jewish state. Shlomo and his wife left the settlement and moved to a city inside Israel, and Shlomo became a founding member of the Movement for Realistic Religious Zionism, a group working to encourage religious Israelis to support withdrawal from settlements. His public expression of his opposition to the occupation angered many people in his hometown. Shlomo embarks on a journey through the West Bank and Israel, questioning his own and his society's assumptions about the conflict, and moving beyond traditional Right- and Left-wing positions. Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with Shlomo.


Tzvika Shahak

In 1996, Tzvika's daughter Bat-Chen was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber outside a Tel Aviv mall. She was fifteen years old when Tzvika identified her body at the morgue. During the period of mourning, Tzvika and his wife Ayelet discovered that their daughter's diaries were full of poems about peace. They published Bat-Chen's poetry in Hebrew and Arabic, and became founding members of the Bereaved Families Forum, working together with hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian families to end violence and occupation. Tzvika is a decorated war veteran and believes a strong military is important for Israel, but that genuine security will come from making peace with the Palestinians. Tzvika and his wife are dedicated to their work with Israeli and Palestinian families. Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with Tzvika.


George Sa'adeh

Three years ago in Bethlehem, George, 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. George spent three days unconscious in intensive care with nine bullet wounds, while his wife buried Christine without him. Less than a year later, George joined hundreds of other Palestinian and Israeli families in the Bereaved Families Forum working together for reconciliation, and against violence and occupation. Now the deputy mayor of Bethlehem, George says that as a Christian, he forgives the soldiers who killed his daughter, but that peace can only come when Israel ends the occupation of Palestinian territory. Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with George.


Rutie Atsmon

When the phone rings in Rutie's unobtrusive ground floor office in the heart of Tel Aviv, it is most likely news about military curfews in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or army-issued travel permits for her Palestinian partners—information that determines whether their workshops can go on. Rutie is the director of Windows, a joint organization that publishes a children's magazine in Arabic and Hebrew, and brings together Israeli and Palestinian youth. Rutie works tirelessly, refusing to be deterred by military checkpoints or fears in both societies, or the precarious balancing act of working together with Palestinians confined to the other side of the "Separation Barrier". Read Just Vision's in-depth interview with Rutie.


Aziz Tanji

Aziz lives in the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, where he grew up in the local refugee camp. A social worker, Aziz is dedicated to improving the lives of Palestinian children. Believing that Palestinian and Israeli children benefit from meeting together and learning about each other's lives, Aziz became the co-founder of the Windows youth organization's center in Tulkarem. Though the Israeli army hasn't granted him a permit to enter Israel for years, Aziz communicates with the Israeli staff daily and hosts them when they come to Tulkarem. He and his Israeli colleagues struggle to overcome the endless obstacles posed by military occupation and conflict in order to work together.