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    Udi Gur

    Jerusalem

    For me, CfP is a community in which I have partners and friends with whom I share the dream, the willingness, and the path.

     

    I grew up in a leftist-Zionist family, with grandparents who were Holocaust survivors, and a strong connection to our land, culture, and language. My defining political experiences as a teenager were the Oslo Agreements and Rabin’s assassination — that is, the feeling that peace is possible but it has to be fought for.

     

    As a youngster I participated in protests and handed out stickers promoting 2 states and the end of the Occupation; but mostly in Tel Aviv and never with Palestinians, whom I didn’t meet and whose life I didn’t know about.

     

    After a year of national service, I was conscripted into the Nahal Seed program, as a combatant in the 50th Battalion in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

    The last year of my service was meant to be spent doing community work in Sderot, but that was cut short by the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

     

    We were sent to guard the settlements in the Rift Valley, and for the first time we were under fire from Jericho. I remember the fear and immediate reaction to this: not hatred, but acclimation to the supposed necessity of the mutual violence.

     

    Finally, we were stationed in the southern Hebron Hills, in the settlement of Negohot. For me, this was a clear illustration of the price of the conflict — instead of working with youth in Sderot, we 40 soldiers were guarding 10 families. Nevertheless, I thought it was my duty to the state and my friends; I did not see myself refusing to serve.

     

    It was only after my army service, as a student during the inferno of attacks in Jerusalem; and out of a sense of frustration with and hopelessness of the never-ending cycle of killing, that I joined an acquaintance for Taayush’s activities in the Territories. Without the habits and the justifications that came with the uniform, I stood facing my army, and I saw corruption, arbitrariness, and a daily Occupation that have nothing to do with security. I started getting to know the reality in the Territories, where the Occupation continues, the settlements expand, and the conflict deepens.

    The path to activism actually started from that same connection with the land and the wish to influence and change things, just like my army service. You can call it Zionism, or just staying connected, or feeling hope. It was clear to me that I would not return to the Territories.

    In CfP’s binational regional activity I found genuine Palestinian partners, and understood that this partnership, for all its complexities and challenges, allowed me to be part of meaningful work which also deepens my understanding of both narratives and brings them together.

    Since then, I have been proud to be there: as a member of the Jerusalem-Bethlehem regional group, a guide on tours, and for the last 2 years as CfP’s Israeli coordinator.

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