Long but worth reading every word carefully.On Monday, as CfP members grieved, sought safety, and processed the unthinkable, we held our first bi-national (Israeli and Palestinian) Zoom support group since Hamas’ brutal attacks on innocent Israelis and the ensuing violence on Gazans.
When we logged onto Zoom, Jamil, CfP’s Palestinian General Coordinator, began the conversation. He looked around the Zoom room at his Israeli friends and shared that it was hard to find the words to express his sorrow, shock, and grief about what Hamas had done.
“I can’t believe this. I am seeing these images, and I don’t want to believe they are real. I cannot hold back my tears. You are my friends, my family.” Other Palestinian activists echoed words of care to Israeli members:
“I am with you. I’m going to stay with you.” “I wish I could see you and hold you.”
At the start of the conversation, it was hard not to speak from “sides” about the pain, needs, and remorse for the violence coming from each society. After some time, Yonatan, CfP’s Israeli Executive Director, reflected, “We are talking as if we belong to the extreme parts of our communities, but we belong to each other. We chose each other. We are not our societies; we are humans.”
When a member asked if we could meet on Zoom every few days for mutual support, Israeli CfP co-founder Itamar spoke to our Palestinian members through tears, “I know things are going to get much worse. After we witness what Israel will do to Gaza, I don’t know if I will be able to look into your eyes.” A Palestinian member replied, “What sets us apart is that we can see each other. We can see each other’s pain. This is how we must stay.”
As their American friends, we watched over this three-hour Zoom how the very thing our beloved peace activists have been working to stop, the escalating violence they have tried to nonviolently prevent together, had now come for them, and how it shattered their hearts. And as we bore witness to their great pain, we also witnessed their great love and commitment to each other grow stronger.
With the desire to speak out together against the current violence, one topic members wrestled with on the Zoom was the danger some Palestinians may face when speaking out in their communities. We also learned one of our Israeli members had been targeted in her community for speaking against further violence from Israel. Yet the resolve was clear amongst all our members that they could not be silent, that they must bear any risks to speak out and call for peace. As such, CfP has updated their joint statement:
Read more and see the full statement (go through each of the five slides slowly) on Instagram.