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Friday, May 14, 2010

Making peace from the bottom up

This story isn't about Salam Fayyad's building institutions for a 'Palestinian state' from the bottom up. It's about individual people making peace with their neighbors from the bottom up.
The LandPeace movement began with meetings between local Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the Etzion Bloc, then moved south to the Mt. Hebron region and north towards Samaria. In an interview with the Israeli Hebrew daily Makor Rishon, Nachum Petznick — one of the founders of LandPeace — explained:
LandPeace grew from the bottom by regular people, both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers, who understood that there is no time to wait while politicians try time and again to present unsuccessful peace plans. Reality is more complex, and while the politicians discuss peace agreements something entirely different is occurring on the ground. Our aim is to impact reality while understanding that both the Palestinians and we, the Jewish settlers, are here to stay.

We are now several hundred strong.

The mere fact that we are meeting with scores of Palestinian Arabs who are interested, and that we are getting to know each other, is of immense importance.
Petznick added that the conversation among the political left is about “recognizing” the Palestinians, while at LandPeace they “get to know” real Palestinians as individual people. To recognize something is an amorphous state, but to know somebody is real, according to Petznick, and the people associated with LandPeace want to live side by side in peace with their neighbors, but he says the word “peace” has been exploited and beaten up from all directions:
I prefer to talk about good neighborly relations and mutual respect rather than use the word “peace.”
S., a former Hamas activist who must hide his name for fear of retribution, found his way to LandPeace through an Israeli prison system. He tells the story of a young Palestinian named Tzudki Zaro, in prison with him, who told him that he murdered Jewish baby Shalhevet Pass. When S. asked him if he was proud of his deed, Zaro replied:
Of course, why not?
S. described the shock he felt hearing this monster, proud of murdering a baby. After that, S. recounts, “I began to think differently.” S. told Makor Rishon:
I reached the conclusion that I did not want to be with people like Zaro, and that both you [Jews] and us [Palestinians] live on this land, and that we do not have another land, so what are we to do? You fire at us, we fire at you, you kill and we kill, and when will it end?
S. described searching for ways to talk to Israelis and how he found the LandPeace movement:
Read the whole thing. Read the comments too.


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