In the words of a Palestinian peace activist - part 5My opinion on peace
and the right for Israel to exist is not a hidden agenda and most Palestinians are aware of that just as I am aware of the dangers of being a peacemaker. If any of these Government officials or extremist group members or even individuals decide to kill me or to bomb my home, like what happened to other Palestinians I know, it wouldn't be a problem as there is no one to protect me and my family. I cannot even contact the Israeli police for protection (according to the Oslo accords, my house is under Israeli control as part of area C) because the risk of being killed by government officials or religious militants will increase they will consider me contacting Israeli police as proof that I am an Israeli collaborator. Even worse, the ongoing violence between Hamas and Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, increase the risk of me being suspected as a collaborator.
I was facing a dilemma
during the first Intifada. As a city employee of Beit Ommar (I was employed as an electrician) and my expertise in high tension electric lines, I was asked by the mayor or others in charge to take down Palestinian flags that were hanged on the power lines. If I refuse I was in danger of losing my job, and if I did what was asked of me, I was in danger of being accused of helping the Israelis.
I never participated in violence during the Intifada or other times and I have never carried a gun or held a knife in my hand in order to commit violence or murder, I only protested in non- violent and peaceful manner.
I believe now, as much as I did before, that the armed violent Intifada was a big mistake on behalf of the Palestinians and that it is one of the main reasons for the delayed peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. How sad it is. In this regard I blame the Palestinians for not reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel and for the lives of the innocent, mainly children, that were lost.
Adding fuel to the fire
I started inviting and hosting Israeli, Jews, Americans and others in my home and offer them an overnight stay with great hospitality. Groups such as the parent circle, peace now, Israeli against homes demolition, USAID, human rights, the four mothers, women in black, international solidarity movements, CPT (Christian peacemaker) and others were all regular visitors.
I was privileged to have my Israeli orthodox Jew brother as one of the first people from Israel to be my guest after a long time that no one visited because of the violence.
Yitzhak put his life in danger, but what more do we have to lose? Our loved ones have been murdered and we believe that we need to take actions and stop the bloodshed, the pain, suffering and sorrow, because enough is enough. Yitzhak was the type of person who was proud to be a Jew being hosted by a Palestinian. I was proud to have him in my town, in my home with my family. I was proud to see him proud. We need such pride in order to make peace and not war and to look each other with respect.
And Yitzhak wasn’t alone. Roni, Rami, other Israelis Jews members of the parents circle, all came to my home with no fear while carrying gifts in their hands. My wife was against what I was doing and thought I was a collaborator and started to believe the rumors. And the sad thing was that she started telling our kids her thoughts about me.
The lesson I learned from such meetings was that we, especially the Palestinians, need to be open minded and to stop the brain wash in order to allow ourselves to see the truth about the other side - that they are human beings as well. It wasn’t because of the gifts that they gave to my children, but the fact is that these gifts were gifts and not guns. I started using this example in my lectures and talks: if we put a child in a room and someone walks into the room holding a bag in his hand, the child automatically assume that in the bag there are gifts for him and he will be happy and exited, but if the same person walks in holding a gun in his hand and wearing a military uniform, what do you think the child reaction will be? He will be frightened and scared.
To be continued...