I grew up in a household filled with many contrasts.
My mother was born in Scotland to a mother who had been born and raised in Jaffa, and defined herself as Palestinian. Her father was British and did not know Hebrew even after 30 years in the Holy Land. This was an elite Jerusalemite family, and a rich, liberal and very left wing household.
My father grew up in Morocco’s Rabat. His father was an ardent Zionist and in 1956 organized the migration of 60 families from the community to the Holy Land. My father arrived when he was 13, and all throughout his childhood he fought for his right to keep studying (unlike many of his peers in the moshav who were sent to work). Alongside financial difficulties that borderlined poverty, he became the first doctor of Moroccan heritage in the Holy Land.
Politically speaking, he was right wing. “I grew up with Arabs and I am telling you they can’t be trusted” he used to claim, very differently from my mother. It is probably because of this division that I avoided political topics. I was not interested and did not know what was happening.
We played with the kids in Silwan, we rode donkeys together. As a kid I knew Palestinians, I did not think they were different from me aside from their economic situation; but when they came back with me to our neighbourhood, my dad was very upset.
During the Second Intifada my brother was a medical student and worked in a hospital in the center of Jerusalem. As part of the rescue teams, he was among the first responders who aided the victims of the horrid attacks. This encounter with the horror and pain deeply affected him, and then me.
I began showing interest in the situation, being slightly involved with left wing organization – I mostly joined protests.
During Operation “Protective Edge” I already started feeling like this country was moving away from me, that I could no longer identify with it. I felt that I had to do something — this is my country and its actions are carried out in my name. I could no longer remain passive.
After joining a few left wing organizations I still felt as though I was not active enough. It felt like I was busy only resisting, and not doing anything in the positive sense of building an alternative. What can we do? I realized that if I wanted a different future for my children, I would have to take a more practical and meaningful role in the struggle for peace.
At the end of 2018, my eldest son has to join the military. I want to send him to defend our country, and not attack and oppress another people. That is not a reality I am willing to live in, and surely not sacrifice what and whom I hold dearest.
That is how I came to Combatants for Peace: a place where everyone of each side takes the full responsibility about how things are, working shoulder to shoulder with our most natural partners in this mission.