I was born in Tel Aviv to Israeli parents, and I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with great appreciation for the fact that Israel exists, knowing that if it had not been founded my grandparents would probably still not have a place in this world where they can feel safe. My school and the environment I grew up in fostered values of tolerance, equality, and seeing the humanity in all people.
I was a kid during the Second Intifada. Buses were exploding and it was forbidden for me to ride them. The same night I slept over at my friend’s home near the beach the attack in the Dolphinarium happened, killing 21 people; another time, we heard of 15 year-old girls who were killed in an attack on their way to the mall. All of these events made me wonder… I would occasionally hear about “the Palestinians”, who appeared as fanatic Muslims that hated Jews and decided to attack to try and expel us from here. I had no compassion for them, nor did I have hatred; I simply did not understand why they hated us so much.
When I was a teen, my parents immigrated to Canada. In the first few years there I felt the need to defend Israel, the attacks on Gaza, and its control of the occupied territories. As an Israeli, I felt that any attack on Israel was a personal attack against me. As time went on, things started to change: I connected with people from different places that led me to look at things from different perspectives and I began to listen to those who were criticizing Israel; I realized that there are many historical facts that I was not aware of, and questions that even my parents could not answer. I became gradually exposed to words that sounded threatening like “the Occupation”, “Naqba”, and “Apartheid”, and I met people that surprised me, like a Palestinian peace activist who visited my university and said that he believes Palestinians and Israelis could live together. I felt I had to investigate and understand.
Summer of 2014. I believed the conflict could only be resolved through recognition, mutual respect, and cooperation; and I anxiously followed the developments of the “Protective Edge” operation. One morning changed everything: in one quick moment it turned everything from political, to personal and painful. In my home in Canada I saw an article showing the picture of one of my friends, wearing the IDF uniform, and underneath it his name, age, city of residence, and the word “RIP”. Memories overcame me – his voice, his laughter and joy, his family, a whole world; but in the article he was merely a name and a picture, nothing more. It felt absurd.
About a year later I came to visit Israel. I toured the West Bank, met Palestinians, listened to their stories and saw them. It was clear to me that I cannot live here without taking part in trying to change how things are.
When I heard of Combatants for Peace it felt like the right framework to work in to pursue an end to the Occupation: active, bi-national, and non-violent. Today I am the Israeli coordinator for the women’s group, and I also coordinate the movement’s connection to academia.