We try to survive. Our activities concern education. As you now, education is a major factor in any conflict. We try to explain our message to pupils and students. We are usually accepted. Occaisionally there are difficult things to hear, but eventually you begin to understand and attempt to analyze why a certain student talks with such hatred. A student wasn't born with this hatred, so why are they like this now? You begin to understand this issue and find yourself being an advocate of humane feelings among people. In addition, children on both sides grow up according to different perspectives. Among Zionists or Israelis, 1948 marks the creation of the Zionist or Jewish state, but for us, it is the Nakba. Both sides should realize the source of this hatred. Through our lectures, we try to explain the reasons for the hatred and misunderstanding and convey that the people on the other side aren't animals, they are human. In addition, the issue of the media is very important. We perform media-related activities such as interviews for TV and newspapers, as well as meetings through which we try to convey that there are still people here who want to live in peace. The opposing media, which is deeply influenced by the Israeli
government, presents the situation as a war in which the majority takes part, but the fact is that the ones who actually fight are a small minority, and the majority are people who suffer. Both sides are suffering. After the lectures, we also organize meetings between the pupils. The point of these meetings is for the pupils to explain their messages to each other in order for both sides to accept each other. During the meetings, the Palestinians try to explain to the Israelis that they [the Palstinians] aren't strangers in this land and why they are demanding a Palestinian
state. In addition, the Palestinians try to explain to the Israelis why they reject the settlers and view them as settlers on Palestinian land, even though the settlers consider this their land. The Palestinians try to explain to Israelis that as long as the settlers consider all of Palestine
theirs there will always be a conflict; for the Israeli settlers to be advocates of the Israeli state, cause and people they need to relinquish their belief that all of Palestine is only theirs. This leads to a situation in which both peoples are more willing to negotiate with each other, to understand the other side and to pay the price for peace. This is our message in general.In addition, we organize family meetings. The Forum consists of about 500 families. We organize meetings between the families in order for them to maintain contact, because consistent relationships are of utmost importance in order to deliver our message of reconciliation. We discuss the facts and conclusions and try to reach a common understanding for the future. Despite the distance and the isolation, we challenge the situation and try to meet continuously and recruit new members to the Forum and introduce them to the other side. We also perform lectures abroad, and are willing to go wherever we are invited. We present our message as The Bereaved Families Forum, a message that contradicts that of the politicians who claim that there is no one to talk to on the other side. We say that if we, as bereaved families, are able to sit together and try to reach a better future, then everybody can. We try to explain this message to the world. We have begun lecturing even in European schools. After the political leaders returned from Camp David
and declared that the other side didn't want peace, we tried to prove the contrary. We set up a phone service, through which you could speak to someone from the other side by dialing *6364. Since February 2002 we have had 750,000 calls between the two sides and over 1.4 million minutes of conversation.We are a non-political organization that doesn't belong to any political party. We don't even have a political message; our message is a humanitarian one. We contact politicians and important people from both sides in order to convince them that despite all that is happening, the issue of negotiations shouldn't be neglected. Through all programs, we try to enable people to live with their pain. From the pain we extract the good, and this is a very hard thing to do. It is even harder for the Palestinians than it is for the Israelis because it is harder to believe in peace and reconciliation while you are living under occupation
.Peace for the Israelis is the continuation of life in a safer or better fashion because they have their state, economy, education and everything. For the Palestinians, peace will mark the beginning of life. The question of how to address the two sides with the same language is difficult and complex but when you realize that this is the only way, you invent a language that appeals to all people. This Forum, as I always say, is a means of invention. With every new event, there is a new humanitarian invention. I wish politicians could invent solutions for complex problems in the same way we have through the Forum.