Alumni Ponder Diverse Perspectives at HOP’s Jaffa Seminar

In February 2014, Hands of Peace held a two-day seminar in Jaffa that was attended by 34 alumni from five different years of Hands of Peace. This seminar included three powerful dialogue sessions (up from the typical two dialogue sessions—by request of the alumni!), time to explore Jaffa and go on a boat ride, and the screening of the movie, “Five Broken Cameras,” which tells the story of non-violent Palestinian activists in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

This seminar also exposed alumni to perspectives from diverse organizations. Our alumni asked thoughtful and respectful questions of presenters from Im Tirtzu, an organization that seeks to advance the values of Zionism; Zochrot, which seeks to raise Israelis’ awareness of Palestinian refugee suffering; and Other Voice, an organization that calls for an end to the Gaza blockade and an end to assaults on civilians from both sides. An Israeli member of Other Voice told participants about the impact of rocket attacks on her community and about her vision for resolving the conflict. A Gazan member presented by phone; he told participants about Gaza's traumatic reality and his reasons for supporting Other Voice.

Alumni came away with renewed hope and inspiration to promote compassion for the “other” side in their home communities. Below are some reflections from participants in this seminar. We are continually grateful for your support of our courageous and insightful young peace-builders!



 Reflections from Jaffa Seminar Participants

 “The presentation from the Other Voice organization was amazing. It was great to get aware of this kind of perspective….I also learned more about Palestinian refugees. By participating in seminars, I feel I’m making peace closer, step by step.”

-Lior, 2013 Israeli participant

“My head is full of things to think about after this seminar. I learned to look beyond my beliefs.”

-Hadeel Abu Assad, 2012 Palestinian Citizen of Israel participant

“One thing I really enjoyed discussing in this seminar was the idea of an army, and what it means to people and how it affects us. Wearing a uniform makes it difficult for others who were personally affected by soldiers to judge them as a human and not as a soldier.”

-Ramzy, 2013 Palestinian participant

“The speaker from The Other Voice was the most meaningful activity for me. I loved how the woman presented her story and her solution to this conflict. It was also the first time I heard a voice from Gaza!”

-Shaked, 2013 Israeli participant

“The most meaningful activity for me was the Im Tirtzu presentation because it was challenging. I do not need someone to agree with me. I need to be challenged by someone who I disagree with.”

-Mohammed, 2011 Palestinian participant, 2012 XL

“The seminars are like my utopia, where everyone can be friends and talk to each other and be happy. After each seminar, I feel more responsibility for what’s happening in my country, to the people I love, and more responsibility to help change it.”

-Hadeel Abu Salih, 2013 Palestinian Citizen of Israel participant

“The seminars are very important to me. Here we see the reality with our own eyes. We learn from personal stories and choose what to take to our daily life.”

-Hagar, 2013 Israeli participant

“It’s been a long time since I had dialogue, and it was an amazing feeling to talk about everything again. It’s been a long time since I talked this freely. I’m not going to miss another seminar!”

-Loai, 2010 Palestinian participant, 2011 XL

“Beside the dialogues, the movie screening was really important because of the rough, harsh situation it presented. It showed the reality I never get to see….The Alumni Club seminars give me strength to keep doing what I do despite the criticism I receive. I come out stronger because I know I have a special place out there in the world that accepts me just the way I am. Its name is Hands of Peace.”

-Niv, 2013 Israeli participant

“Finishing the Summer Program was only the first step along the way, and I only recognized that when I started participating in the seminars. We take so much knowledge from the seminars, and we also have a lot of fun together. It’s so sad that this is the last seminar of the year!”

-Sahar, 2013 Palestinian participant