Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Families Forum



The Families Forum / Parents Circle is an organisation consisting of several hundreds of bereaved families, half Palestinian and half Israeli. The Families Forum has played a crucial role since its inception in 1995, in spearheading a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Forum members have all lost immediate family members due to the violence in the region. They campaign - very effectively - for peace and reconciliation and to promote the cessation of acts of hostility and the achievement of a political agreement

In 2006, two members of this organisation (Robi Damelin and Abu Ali Awwad) undertook a speaking tour of the UK, including two talks in Nottingham. BFTF was lucky enough to attend, record (and later transcribe) one of these events.


More Information on the Families Forum - Parents Circle can be found here:
UK Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum
Main Families Forum - Parents Circle Website

Robi Damelin:
So, there has to be something practical to this as well. I'm going to tell you a little about the work of the Parents Circle so that you get the idea that we are not such a huge group but we make a big noise.

One of the big dreams that we had was to get to a wider audience of peopel who wouldn't give a damn actually about what happens to Israel or the Palestinians. They're interrested in football, or Eastenders or the equivalent in Israel.

So we went to quite a middle of the line advertising agency. We decided to not go to a left advertising agency because they would come up with the flowers and the bad poetry. The agency came up with an idea for a TV series which would be a fictional drama something like, I don't know if you can remember, they had a programme called "Roots" which was abour African Americans and it made a huge impact in America on opinions.

This was a very expensive project so we applied to the Americans, very much tongue in cheek, but they actually gave us the money - nobody was more surprised than us! The second channel in Israel agreed to give us the other amount, not because they are such nice guys but it's because they have to make quality programmes - it's part of the agreement for them to get the licence to run their channel. It's the most popular channel and it (the series) is going to be broadcast on prime time. It will be in Arabic and Hebrew, which is unheard of on Israeli television on prime time. It will have Palestinian and Israeli actors.

It's going through teething pains as it has to be approved by both sides, the Palestinians have to agree and that there are no cultural faux pas in it and the Israelis have to agree and, you know, if you put three Israelis together they each have a different opinion and if you put three Palestinians together the same thing happens. so you can imagine that my grey hair started getting bigger by the month - but it's a wonderful project !

They will interweave some of the stories of the Parents Circle into the drama without people knowing that we had anything to do with it and at the end of the series they will show 'the making of' and then people will see that actually a lot of the stories are true and that's a good way for us to go out into the community and start spreading the message to people who have not listened to us before.

Mainly, we work in schools with 17yr old kids - we choose 17yrs old because it's the year before they go into the army. Over the year 2005 we did more than 1000 classroom dialogues. Which is a lot of kids, you can multiply that by 35 which is the average class.

The thing that we discovered was that these kids had never met a Palestinian in their lives (the ones in the Israeli schools) and the ones in the Palestinian schools had never met an Israeli out of uniform or who isn't a settler. It's extraordinary, you go into a class with a Palesinian from Dehaisha refugee camp and you ask these kids "Hi, this is Rehad Faraj from Bethlehem. He lives in Dehaisha refugee camp. Do you know what Dehaisha is?". They havent the faintest idea. "Do you know what a refugee camp is?" They also don't know (that). So through his personal narrative, Rehad tells them where he came from in 1948; what his daily life is like in Dehaisha; what his children live through every day. When they say that children learn to hate Israelis - they don't need to learn, they just need to walk around the streets of Dehaisha a little bit. I don't think they wold be terribly fond of us.

These school classroom dialogues are very valuable because what happens is that the same thing happens in Palestine. These kids have never met an Israeli out of uniform, as I told you, and they might say something outrageous to me like 'your child deserved to die' but you see, when soneone says that you need to look and see why they said such a thing. You know, if you were to look into the eyes of people who have lost children or family members you will see a certain look about them. And when I asked this girl why she was so angry and who did she lose in her family and she told me and then I realised why. And I asked her 'how was your mother throughout this whole thing and how did your aunt behave?' and, you know, we all experience the same pain. She came to me afterwards to say sorry. Most of the kids ask to meet each other and that is the incredible thing. It's like I have come here tonight and you could all go home, like after a sad television programme and do nothing or your could take responsibility for your own lives to protect yourselves in the future. Very much of what happens in my country affects your lives - and very muchof what's hapening could become very sad. I'm not here to tell the British what to do but I can say that what happens here affects me and that the life of Palestine and Israel is very much in the hands of America.

So, these kids ask to meet each other and that's absolutely the most amazing thing that could happen. We have a team of close to 50 people working on the education project going into the schools. We have a pilot project now, of meeting and spending the weekend together from Palestine and Israel and we discovered, of course, that they weren't really happy with each other. But now they have started to write to each other and they have started to invite each other with nothing more to do with us and that is the main thing, that's the most important thing - if they let us go and get on with it themselves.

We have a similar project which is sponsored by the European Union for adult education, because they did a lot of research in Ireland and they found that you have to work with adults as well - it's not enough to just work with kids. And we have had meeting is the refugee camps and in the posh areas of Israel - and it works! Ali works works with me on occasion and nobody wants to let him go afterwards.

And the same thing happens with the film - I hope we will be able to bring it to England - it's a film called Encounter-Point. It is made by an Israeli/Palestinian/American production team. You can look up their website, it's called justvision.com. They interviewed 180 Israeli and Palestinian peaceworkers and chose three organisations which they followed around for two and a half years and we were one of them. Ali and I went to the premiere in New York. There were 800 cynical New Yorkers there but they still clapped for half an hour.

When there are two sides talking with one voice - it works.

I hope that you can see it at the University. They promised that they will get at least 50 Jews and 50 Muslims - that there would be an equal number from both sides for the screening of this film. I hope that you get to see this film because it's a sense of inspiration that you get to do something in your own community. It's terrible easy to sit back and do nothing and wait for the Messaih. But he isn't coming soon from what I can see and we can't wait for any leaders to help us. It has to be people to people.

Ali and I have been thinking a long time about what to do in the Palestinian side to make a really good impact and we came to the conclusion that one has to go and talk to the political prisoners- because they have a tremendous influence on their own people. I went to a wedding the Minister of the Interior was there and I don't have any shame any more, I just do what ever I need to do for the organisation. It's incredible how I don't have any fear. You can put me anywhere, it doesn't matter. I said 'you know we have this kind of a project that we are thinking about and we want to work in the jails' and he said 'yes, it's a wonderful idea'. I was amazed.

So we are going to show the film to all the heads of the police when we get back and I am hoping that we can start looking at jails pretty soon and I'm very happy about that.


*********************************

An Israeli story

My name is Robi Damelin. I come from Tel Aviv and I lost my son David. He was a student at Tel Aviv University and he was studying for his masters in the Philosophy of Education. I don't suppose anyone can really understand what it is to lose a child. It's beyond anyone's comprehension actually because I thought that I understood and that I had empathy because there are many families in Israel and Palestine who have lost children and I make these kinds of visits but afterwards I apologised to other bereaved parents because I realised that I didn't understand what they were talking about and that my life would never be the same. And then I decided, 'What would I do with all this pain?' There are many choices that you can make.

When the army came and knocked on my door, the first thing that I said, which is really weird because I only heard about it afterwards was 'You may not kill anybody in the name of my child' and I suppose that that was already the beginning of the path that I was going to take.

All my life I have been working for causes of co-existence, you have probably already picked up the fact that my accent is South African. I came to live in Israel in 1967 and in those days, if you had said to me after I had fought in the anti-apartheid movement all through my life - my uncle was Nelson Mandela's lawyer - if you had said to me that blacks and whites would sit in the same room and look for a way to reconcile I would have said that you were insane. In fact this miracle actually happened and it is a miracle of South Africa. It isn't that South Africa is now this wonderful land of pink dreams - it's not. There is a lot of crime but when you think of the alternative of what could have happened there then you begin to realise that it was the miracle and I think the miracle could happen for us as well.

After David died I didn't know what direction my life was going to take. I didn't know that I couldn't go out on a path of revenge because in fact there is no revenge that you can take that will bring him back. Who would I kill? Who would I blame? Where does the anger come from? Did the sniper kill David because he was David? He killed him because he was a symbol, because if he had known David he could never have killed him.

The process of forgiving and reconciliation is a long and very painful one. It's a very personal journey that has a tremendous rippling effect. You will never know where it's going to take you. You see when you do this work there is a sense of having to know whether you are being completely honest. I spend a lot of time looking for anger and whether I was being genuine about what I was saying. And then the big test arrived.

The big test was that they caught the sniper that killed David. I though 'what am I going to do with all of this because if what I am saying is what I mean, then I have to go on a path to see whether I can find a way to reconcile and that's almost impossible. I was very influenced by the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa. I watched the movie, which I highly recommend to anybody, called "The long nights journey into the day" - it's not "a long days journey into the night". It's a documentary about the truth and reconciliation commission and discovered I could identify and I suddenly realised that by giving up on this anger or by looking for a path to reconcile, in many ways you stopped being the victim because you know, all the anger and the connection to the person that perpetrated the crime is really being under some kind of power that they have over you. It's so hard to explain because its something that much more "experiential" and not so much something that I can quantify and explain to you. So I think that in many ways if I read you the letter that I wrote to the family of the sniper, it might give you an insight into this path, because the path is not only personal, it has a rippling effect.

The rippling effect of forgiving is quite incredible. When I looked at South Africa I really realised that this is what they were doing, because it wasn't only for the mothers, the people who had lost children, it was also for other people to see that it was possible and it was looking for the humanity on the other side because we only see evil and good, we don't see grey in the middle. We just see bad and good and we don't see the story of the sniper - which we will come to - we don't see why people do these mad violent things. Look, I'm not a rainbows, flowers, bad poetry sort of person, but I do see the possibility. I do see that giving up would be the most terrible thing. It's quite extraordinary because when you see people who are the least likely of anybody you could ever meet in Israel or Palestine to go on this path and suddenly they are talking with once voice, it has an extraordinary effect on people. It brings a sense of hope and that maybe they can make a difference in their own communities.

We were in the university this afternoon and I was so moved by the meeting because there were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Palestinian, Palestinian Christian in the audience and we finished after an hour and they threw us out of the lecture hall and we all went to the cafe because they wanted to continue talking. We sat and spoke and I discovered that these kids had never ever spoken (to each other). A Palestinian had never spoken to a Jewish student. They started to stand in a group and they started talking to each other and taking each other's Emails and they decided that they were going to have a dialogue group. I got them to get off the politics and they are all going to tell their personal narrative for the first three or four weeks to get the empathy because you see, we are not a political organisation. Of course we are all political people but we are not affiliated to any political party and that is really very important for us because we don't want to be labelled as anything, and their are various opinions within the parents circle in any event.

So these kids suddenly discovered the humanity, they were talking on another level altogether and they promised me that the first few meeting would be to get to know each other.

There were kids there from Gaza. I know what it is to live in Gaza but I promise you that the kids in this meeting had never heard the pain of a kid living in Gaza, never heard his fear for what would happen to his parents if something happened.

And the Jewish kids would start to tell their stories about where they came from and why their parents left Lithuanian and how they got here and what happened to them and how they feel as a minority group.

It's so extraordinary when you tell that personal narrative. You can get off the history because we all live in our historical narrative. 1948 is the war of independence for the Jews and the state of Israel and it's the 'Nakba' (Catastrophe) for the Palestinians. And so we all read history as we wish. Look at the Balfour Declaration - you will see the two sides interpretation. Everything is seen through your own eyes. Now, when you know someone else's narrative - it doesn't mean you have to agree with it - but at least you know.

I mean, we live probably from here to where those cups are away from a Palestinian - and we never sat down to have a conversation.

Nobody knows the pain of the other. Nobody understand why Israel started and why all these people ran away and why it is a necessity to have a state at all.

Nobody sees the pain of the Palestinians. Nobody knows what the daily life is of having to cross a roadblock, of having the humiliation of having to always show papers, of having to ask permission to come to Israel.

Where do we have the empathy, this joint empathy, where we can look at both sides and say 'they have a shared pain'? You see, for Ali and I to sit together, we do share a pain- it's the deepest pain that you can have. We have also paid the highest price to say what we say and we are very lucky in that from many points of view the people in our communities are willing to listen to us because neither of us can be doubted as being loyal to their own countries - but still wanting a moral solution. So I think I'm going to read you the letter and I really ask you not to take sides. Please do not be pro-Israeli, please do not be pro-Palestinian. Just open your heart to a message that might bring a sense of empathy because where are we now - Nottingham? - you can have all these wonderful opinions but your children are not dying and your children are not standing at roadblocks. And you don't have to make these terrible decisions on a daily basis of what to do, and how to live your life and how to be moral. I know that you have had a little taste now of veils and crosses and everything to do with religious symbols. I am not all religious but I promise you that if someone said tomorrow morning that I could not wear the star of David I would go out and buy a star of David the biggest size I could find and I would walk around with it hear (on my chest) because you are pushing me into a corner - tell me I can't do something and I immediately feel threatened and that's when I'll immediately do it. So don't tell me I can't wear a veil, or I can't wear a cross or I can't do this. Come and talk to me. Come and tell me why it's painful. Come and explain why you are frightened of my symbols. Come and talk to me about labels and then maybe I won't feel so threatened that I have to wear a big symbol.

Do you know how many Muslims in the US started to wear the veil after 9/11? One needs to ask oneself why. Did they feel threatened? Was it suddenly having to announce your ethnic identity?

I was brought up in a very non-Jewish environment, in a convent believe it or not - nobody believes that when they know the way I behave! - and there were two Jewish kids in the whole convent and I was going to be Catholic because I thought it was much more romantic. I liked all the symbolism. When you are 13-14 it is much more sexy! But, just don't threaten me. Just accept me and talk to me and ask me why I feel the need now to show my symbol. Why is so important that I go off to my British Airways job with a large cross on my cravat? Why am I doing that? What makes it necessary for me to show you who I am?

Robi reads the letter she wrote to the family of the sniper who shot her son:

"This for me is one of the most difficult letters I will ever have to write. My name is Robi Damelin and I am the mother of David who was killed by your son.

I know he did not kill David because he was David. If he had known him he could never have done such a thing. David was 28 yrs old and he was a student at Tel Aviv University doing his masters in the Philosophy of Education. David was part of the peace movement and did not want to serve in the occupied territories. He had a compassion for all people and understood the suffering of the Palestinians. He treated all around him with dignity. David was part of the movement of officers who did not want to serve in the occupied territories but nevertheless; he went to serve when he was called to the reserves.

What makes our children do what they do? Do they not understand the pain they are causing? Your son by now having to be in jail for many years and mine who I will never be able to hold and see again. Or see him married. Or have a grandchild from him.

I cannot describe to you the pain I feel since his death and the pain of his brother and sister and girlfriend and all who knew and loved him.

All my life I have been spent working for causes of co-existence, both in South Africa and here. After David was killed, I started to look for a way to prevent other families, both Israeli and Palestinian, from suffering this dreadful loss. I was looking for a way to stop the cycle of violence. Nothing, for me, is more sacred that human life. No revenge or hatred can ever bring my child back.

After a year I closed my office and joined the Parents Circle Families Forum. We are a group of Israeli and Palestinian families who have all lost an immediate family member in the conflict. We are looking for ways to create a dialogue with a long-term vision of reconciliation. After your son was captured I spent sleepless nights thinking about what to do. Should I ignore the whole thing or will I be true to my integrity and to the work that I am doing to try and try to find a way for closure and reconciliation. But it is not easy for anyone and I am just an ordinary person, not a saint

I have now come to the conclusion that I would like to try and reconcile. Maybe this is difficult for you to understand or believe but I know that in my heart it is the only path that I can choose. For if what I say is what I mean then it is the only way.

I understand that your son is considered a hero by many of the Palestinian people. He is considered to be a freedom fighter, fighting for justice and for an independent viable Palestinian state.

But I also feel that if he understood that taking the life of another may not be the way and that if he understood the consequences of his act, he could see that a non-violent solution is the only way for both nations to live together in peace. Our lives as two nations are so intertwined. Each of us will have to give up on our dreams for the future of the children who are our responsibility.

I give this letter to people I love and trust to deliver. They will tell you of the work we are doing and perhaps create in your heart some hope for the future. I do not know what your reaction will be. It is a risk for me, but I believe you will understand as it comes from the most honest part of me.

I hope that you will show the letter to your son and that maybe in the future we can meet. Let us put an end to the killing and look for a way, through mutual understanding and empathy, to live a normal life, free of violence"

Thank you

************************************

A Palestinian story

Good evening. I would like to thank you for coming here because I think we are all involved in this conflict and this conflict has touched everybody, not just Israel and Palestine, but the whole world around.

My name is Ali Abu Awwad and I am from near Hebron. I came from a refugee family. I grew up in a very political house. My mother used to be very active in Fatah and she has been arrested four times. She was in prison for five years.

During the first intifada and I grew up and opened my eyes. I was 16 so I joined the intifada. It was my reaction against the Israeli occupation. I threw tonnes of stones and have done many things and have been in a prison for four years. My brother also and my other brother. Actually we have been very active.

After the Oslo agreement came we supposed that this agreement will give us peace and that it will also bring security for Israel but the Palestinian independent state has not been established through the agreement. Also the Israeli security was not perfect, so this agreement fell down and it took with it the whole hope of the people.

So people get to be involved and the second intifada was more violent, more hatred, more anger and today we have reached a number of five thousand families who are bereaved from both sides. Most of them are children and women.

One of them was my brother. He was killed by an Israeli soldier and he left a son and daughter. He was 31 years old. We were very close to each other. He used to take care of us. While we were in prison he left his school and he tried to help my father but even with the prison, even with being under occupation, it's different to losing somebody. So when I lost Yusuf, I lost the place of hope in myself. I came to be full of anger and hatred. I was angry with myself. I was angry with the Israelis, with the Jews, with the Arabs, with the peace - because all of those couldn't save Yusuf, including me. Yusuf was killed in an inhuman way. He was shot 70cm away from his head. I was in Saudi Arabia at the time because I had been shot by an Israeli settler in my knee. I still have 12 pieces in my leg reminding me of that, carrying them wherever I am going.

I couldn't imagine being allowed to go back to the same place where they kidnapped my brother, and for what? To cross the checkpoints again? To see the settlers again? Or to join Hamas or Fatah?

What to do?

I came back after 3 months and I realised, after 1 year, why I couldn't kill somebody. Today I know that very well - costing somebody else the same pain that I have is not easing my pain. Killing 1 or 2 or 10 Israelis is not leading my people to independence.

The other thing is that anything that I do will not lead to a psychological solution for myself, so I closed myself until I met the Israeli families and when I saw the religious Israeli father whose son had been kidnapped and killed by Hamas, I realised that if this man can, with all the price that he has paid, understand the rights of the Palestinian and if he can deal with this heavy pain of losing a son then everybody can.

Buy it depends, what is the way that we should follow, as Palestinians, to allow the Israelis to understand like this man, and what should the Israelis should do to understand our case.

So I found myself in this organisation, the Bereaved Families Forum, and day-by-day I became more understanding and open. I realised what is on the back of the soldier, what he is carrying when he comes to be an occupier. I think that before he becomes and occupying soldier he is carrying all the history of his people. He is carrying a fear, the holocaust and everything.

On the other hand, what is making somebody blow himself up in a bus, a restaurant? How can someone not care about his life or that of others? Is he a human or not. I think he is a human, but his guy has reached a point where, for him, life and death are the same. He doesn't care about his life - how can he care about others?

On the other hand, for all the things that we are talking about - to stop the suicide bomber or to remove the soldier from the checkpoint - we need to convince the soldier that occupying the Palestinians is not getting the Israelis security or to convince the suicide bomber that blowing yourself up is not leading to independence.

How to do this?

I think that all the people there, most of them, they want peace but the problem is that part of those people is smiling when there is a suicide bomber or giving an excuse for the occupying soldier.

Both behaviours are illegal, so why are we doing this?

I realised that is because we cannot deal with the pain because we don't know where to put the anger. The easiest way is to throw it to the other side. And the problem is that everybody is right. This side is right and that side is right.

So where is the wrong?

I think that because of this argument between the two sides who are right, the truth disappears.

I think that before forgiveness, being in a reconciliation process is so complicated because the life of both sides is not the same. It doesn't matter who is suffering more because pain is pain, tears do not have different colours, blood is the same colour. So losing somebody is the same from here or from there.

But because we do not know how to connect to this identity, we don't know how to be involved in our nationality, we are giving our behaviours the right to do whatever they want to do to each other, to do the most terrible things to each other.

But in the end, the end of life, nobody is taking Israel with him and nobody is taking Palestine with him. We are going the same way we were born, we aren't even taking our clothes with us.

So why. Life has more worth than death.

But to convince the people of that, people have to live and we will never live so long as we are not allowed to understand each other. It is not that the army will be able to stop the suicide bomber or the violence. It is not that the violence will lead to an independent state.

It is a decision for both sides. It is both sides understanding of the narrratives of each other, of the pain of each other.

If people are not even allowed to say hello for peace, peace will never happen. Even to sit together. I mean you can be angry, you can argue, you can fight, through your mouth - it's legal, because nobody dies in this war.

But being silent is costing us death. So why, why are we not allowed? Sometimes we are ashamed to even be in a peace movement in front of our people. It seems like we are performing a crime, like the peace movement became a crime - because we cannot deal with this hatred and anger.

And I think this is the time to finish and this is the time to have our responsibility because at the end, nobody will disappear. We have more than 12 million people there. I don't care which kind of political solution there is. If it is one state then there has to be a condition - you cannot decide for the other side and ask him to be convinced. The solution needs to come from both nations. If the Palestinians and Israelis agree to leave the area, that is okay!

Thank you very much.


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Q&A
Robi Damelin:
Just one thing, I want to address the one state solution - not from a political point, as I told you, we would agree with anything that is agreed by both sides. What I do say about a one state solution is that in an ideal world that would be incredible. What you don't get is the Jewish psyche. What you don't get is that who will take the million Russian Jews and who will take the 200,000 Jews from Ethiopia and who will take the French Jews who are coming now and who will take the Argentinian Jews.

You see, if - in an ideal world- I could know for sure that England or, I don't know, France or Germany or Italy or any of these countries would immediately open their doors to refugees of Jewish background, nobody would be happier than me to have a one-state solution. Sorry, the Jews need a homeland - as sad as that is.

And I think, knowing what the Palestinians tell me, that at this point they also want an independant Palestinian state.

I wish it was an ideal world. If it was, was wouldn't be sitting here.

Question from the audience: Did you get a response to your letter?

Answer:
Robi Damelin:
Ali went along with someone to deliver the letter. Of course, they were very surprised. Ali told them about the families forum, told them about David, told them about me and then read the letter.

They were very moved and they said that if everyone could sign on that letter, there would be peace and they said that they were going to write me a letter, but it's going to take time. They have to go to their village, they have to talk to people, they have to be sure that their son want that and he has just finished his trial right now so I am hoping that it will happen. If it does it's the next step and its very painful.

This isn't something that jsut happens and you do it, its painful. The last time that Ali went to visit them my stomach was just going round the whole day. What happens if they don't want to? What happens if they do? How will I handle it? What will I do next?

I think that's your answer and I think that it works in a very rippling effect.

Ali Abu Awaad:
I'm showing (the letter) everywhere. I went to the Al-Aqsa Brigade and the military wings of Fatah because I know both of them very well - we have been in prison together. I went to them twice and I talked to them about Robi and the letter and the non-violence and so on.

People do not understand, not because of the hatred but because they cannot deal with their injustice. I cannot go to a Palestinian who is closed inside his village. . .sometimes I feel like I live in a Zoo, closed in - even for people who want to go to hospital.

These people want me to open the checkpoint tomorrow. I tell them that what I am doing is really to remove the checkpoint but can they promise me that the next day their will be no suicide bomber, for example?

And it is not the case that I am stopping you from defending yourself. You know, I'm Palestinian. I want my state, I'm against - absolutely 100% against - this occupation but the problem is that we have to live by the way that we react. So they need to see some understanding from the other side, otherwise don't ask the Palestinian who is living in this kind of life to understand your pain.

So this letter is allowing me - even today, Palestinian students came to Robi and to me and they told me "this is the first time we have heard an Israeli talking about our suffering under the occupation, and then she felt guilty because both sides have their reasons.

But I'm telling you, peace for Israelis is a continuation of life. Peace for Palestinians is to start living. We are not alive.

So this letter is allowing me to go to my people to show them that it could be effective. It works.

Through non-violence the hatred will not disappear, I cannot stop the anger, but we can use the anger for our humanity, not by killing each other. It's okay to be angry, you don't have to love the other side to make peace with them.

These are deep things that are very complicated, it is like lighting a candle in a dark tunnel. The candle will not make the darkness disappear, nor will it light up all our surroundings, but it CAN light your steps to get out of the tunnel.

It's not okay that the darkness will continue but until we can see our next step we cannot move from the darkness.

Until we understand what violence is doing for us as Palestinians, the occupation will not be ended.

Until Israelis undertand what it means to occupy another people, the violent behaviour will not stop.

So every side had its duty, not by saying a compliment, I'n not trying to be nice with the Israelis and I'm not asking the Israeli soldier to give me a flower because I know and I understand this deep feeling of being the son of a Holocaust survivor, or a Palestinian under occupation.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ronnie

Happened to watch one of the “Storyville” documentaries on BBC4 (easily the best channel on TV) recently. This particular programme was about former US President Ronald Reagan.

A fascinating programme, it was yet another example of how, without an understanding of history, we cannot understand the present - or recognise when our leaders (or prospective leaders) are pulling the wool over our eyes

It was revealing to see how Raegan was able to tell the American people that the US absolutely had not sold arms to Iran (Iran !) in return for the release of hostages in Lebanon - although that was exactly what had happened, and he knew about it.

It was also interesting to see how the right of American politics has put his presidency on a pedestal and attributed to him government policies that simply did not happen. For example, far from being an administration that shrank the size of government and reduced the deficit, his was one that hired more employees and left the country with a huge deficit (something which he himself acknowledged in one of his final addresses as a regret).

Reagan died from the degenerative brain disease Alzheimers. One of the most poignant comments described how, whilst he was suffering from the condition, his wife found him one day holding a small model of the White House. She asked him what he was doing with that in his hand and said “I don’t know but it’s something to do with me”

To find out more about this series, do the clicky thing here :