Before the first Intifada, as a kid, Riad didn’t really experience the occupation. His father, who was a teacher, had Jewish friends and other Israelis would come and buy stone from the family’s factory and visit their house, in the West bank.
Even when the Intifada started in 87’ he didn’t quite understand. Sometimes it looked like a game to him. But all of that changed when the army broke into his house one night, and in the morning he found his father tied to a tree with a group of men. From there, they were taken to prison. No explanations were given.
The struggle he joined, as a kid sitting on a hill and watching to see if the IDF forces are coming, or by throwing stones – wasn’t just a struggle against the occupation; it was a retaliation for what they did to his father.
And then came the Oslo Accords and the hope for peace. The Fatah Youth, which he was part of, were accused in normalizing the situation with Israel, but they still stuck with the two state solution. Until the second Intifada which came knocking on the doors of the university he was studying in, Birzeit. That’s when everything broke down.
It was Id Al-Adha eve. He went with his brother to buy clothes. Out of a black car with shadowed windows came masked men and shot both of them. Al Jazeera reported that undercover agents – who were identified as collaborators – “killed three Palestinian opposers.”
Riad himself was saved, but two years of hospitalization left him with a 60% medical disability and a strong urge for revenge. Looking for a way, Riad channeled these feelings to his work as a social worker.
And then he heard for the first time about the Israeli draft refusal movement. It was a hope for him and his friends, a hope that there is a chance that “the human conscience is beginning to wake up.” carefully, knowing how things were, they arranged a first meeting with these people.
For the first time, they heard a different language. Still, it took a year of talking until they reached a mutual agenda, and even then it wasn’t necessarily popular with both sides.
Ten years have gone by, and even though he left CFP for a couple of years, Riad feels he has partners. For path and fate. And now he, a bereaved brother, is sitting with Avi, who lost his father, and they are having a conversation.