Yesterday morning I received two biography’s, one from Mohamed Awaida and the other from Khdair Najjar, both Palestinian members of Combatants For Peace, both coming to the walk on October 6th.
From childhood, they grew up under Israeli military control of the land they call home, Khdair in Yitma, near Nablus, and Mohammed in Silwan near the Western Wall. From childhood, they learned about Jews and Israelis through their peers and through contact with armed Israeli soldiers governing much of their lives, soldiers ordered to protect Israel and Israeli settlers against those whom the Israelis called “terrorists.” In the fog of war, experiencing violence and threats of violence amidst the inevitable conflict between military and civilian control, they joined Palestinian resistance organizations, trying various ways to end the Israeli presence in their home, trying to “end the occupation” of their land, but never actually meeting Israelis as equals until they joined Combatants For Peace.
I also received biographies of two Israelis, Erez Krispin and Adi Greenfeld, both Israeli Jews, soldiers and patriots under orders to protect Israel against the Palestinian “enemy.” Just as the Palestinian’s learned to see the Israelis as “occupiers” they grew up seeing Palestinian’s as “terrorists.” Adi, stationed in Tel Aviv, never drew close to the territories and never saw how the Palestinians lived each day, how agonizing was the situation. Erez, an officer serving in the West Bank and Gaza, knew Palestinians only from taking such action as he was ordered or taught by his peers, trying to weaken Palestinian will and break their resistance to Israeli control. It took time and courage for them to visit the West Bank unarmed and meet the Palestinians face to face, as equals. It took time to learn the situation from their point of view, and it took time and courage for Mohammed and Khdair to meet Israelis, face to face as equals, and it took time to find ways that they could work together to end the “situation” they inherited.
We must take time on October 6th at 2:00 p.m. when Khdair, Mohammed, Erez, and Adi will walk through New Haven as brothers and sisters in a common cause for justice and peace for both their people. Please join them, welcome them, draw inspiration from their story and their work. Come to the walk on Sunday, October 6th, 2:00 p.m. at the New Haven Green, invite them to your house of worship, and the following week come and hear them at Milford City Hall on October 13th at 4:00 pm. Let them see Muslim, Christian, Jew, and others, walk with them side by side, pledging ourselves, in so much as it is in our power, to defend and protect them in the United States, Israel, and Palestine. Come to the walk.