Young Palestinian sows seeds of peace where peace seems impossible
Mahmoud Jabari, who attended a Seeds of Peace camp, has learned to better understand both sides of the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
(Page 3 of 3)
“I wanted to feel the stories. There was something important I was missing. I tried to listen, to feel. To imagine that I’m feeling the story the other side is telling me,” he explained.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Back in Hebron after attending camp, Jabari tried to share his experience with his neighbors, friends, and family. Unsurprisingly, it was not easy.
“My family is really supportive, and that is very important to me. Among my peers and my community I was seen as an organizer. But I was criticized by my teachers who believed I was doing the wrong thing – that I was betraying our Palestinian national principals and rights,” he said.
“Some people see me badly because I speak up for the Israeli side in addition to our side. But this makes me more determined. We think we are always the right side and see the other side in an inhuman way. The teachers here are making students full of hate for the other side,” he said.
Jabari is looking for ways to use his newfound appreciation of “the other side’s perspective,” and he is keeping in touch with the Israeli friends he made at camp. But he wishes there were more opportunities, created by Seeds of Peace or otherwise, to continue the dialogues they began at camp.
And Jabari is realistic about the potential reach of Seeds of Peace, which he says is more useful for stimulating social and economic change at the grass-roots level, rather than political reforms. It is in these kinds of “common efforts,” as he calls them, that Jabari thinks true change can come about – if Israelis and Palestinians can work together.
Jabari’s perspective on Abbas’ proposal to the UN is also strikingly realistic.
“As much as we deserve to have the same rights as every other nation in the world, at the same time, I don’t agree with it,” he said about the formal request. “We should have an agreement with an Israeli side instead of going to the UN,” he explained. Interestingly, this is what the Quartet is working toward: direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“But it is a peaceful announcement and a step toward peace, and we should see it as an opportunity to advance discussion,” concluded Jabari.
Next up for Mahmoud Jabari: He will be moving to Vermont to study communications at Champlain College. Jabari advocates for youth involvement in social change and conflict resolution and for the activist possibilities of journalism, and has written about the idea of Palestinian statehood, at his website, Lens for Change.
• Sign-up to receive a weekly selection of practical and inspiring Change Agent articles by clicking here.