All For Peace Radio

May 4, 2015

I watched a young, tan Israeli woman in a tank top walk out of a recording studio to be replaced by two girls wearing matching hijabs walk in. 

Her show was about music in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The Palestinian girls come once a week for training how to have their own talk show. They talked about love and boyfriends.

A place without borders: All for Peace Radio.

I spoke with Nassar, the man who ensures that the radio runs smoothly on air; he has worked here for 9 years. He told me that the best radio shows are about people. About humanness. Put politics aside, just look at the people. 

Meanwhile, we monitored the studio where Mossi Raz, Meretz politician and co-founder of the radio station and Nadia, a Palestinian woman from East Jerusalem and blogger, recorded their show. 


They discussed the failure of the Oslo peace process, the recent elections, the changing societies, the miscommunication between the languages, their own similarities. They talked about the 67 years of occupation, and I heard fatigue in their voices. Exhaustion and uncertainty of where it will go and how it will continue, but without any answer as to how it will end. Their show is on weekly and in English. 

I've begun volunteering here and am preparing my own radio show based on the concept behind my photography project: "Country of Contradictions." The show will feature the moments of overlap and nuances in the experience of living in this place by focusing on the people and the places that do not fall on one side of a border or another. 

Stay tuned! And don't touch that dial. 📻📻

You can listen online to All For Peace Radio at www.allforpeace.org or in the West Bank at 107.2FM. You can check out Nadia's blog here.

As always, a lot is going on here. There have been 2 very large demonstrations against police brutality against the Ethiopians and Africans living here. Two nights ago in Tel aviv, thousands of people showed up and succeeded in shutting down the main highways for many hours as they marched to the pinnacle of protests in Tel Aviv: Rabin Square. Framed by images that provoke a sense of déjà-vu of Baltimore and Ferguson, the call that black lives matter is being chanted here in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem. For further reporting and personal accounts of the current situation see here and here. 

And, Breaking the Silence just published their report with soldier testimonies of what happened in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Incredibly important reading. Here in English, here in Hebrew.

Humans of Hand in Hand

I am pleased to present to you, Humans of Hand in Hand: Jerusalem Edition! 

Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel brings together thousands of Jews and Arabs in five schools and communities throughout Israel. They are proving on a daily basis the viability of inclusion and equality for citizens of Israel. 

Like their Facebook page and for the next few weeks your news feed will be graced with beautiful photos (taken by yours truly!) and interviews with the teachers, students, and people who work at Hand and Hand and make it what it is. 

Support Hand in Hand! It's a wonderful place and they are doing good good work in the face of so much cynicism and violence. Thanks to @humansofny for the inspiration.





Passion, Responsibility, Action: A weekend in Beit Jala

March 15th, 2015

I spent the weekend at a conference with Palestinians and Israelis in Beit Jala, a place only 15 minutes from Jerusalem that sits at the confluence of roads that lies in the space where Israelis and Palestinians both have permission to be. We stayed at a hotel called the Everest, and as we climbed the hill to the very top, it was clear why it was named such.

It was an incredible weekend; there were Palestinians from all over the West Bank near Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. Israelis from Jerusalem, Hadera, Sderot and the north. We began the weekend by sharing the thing that is most important to us: family, freedom, silence, music, learning, an end to occupation, peace.

I befriended a young Palestinian from Jericho who plays classical guitar with fingers plucking notes like water. He shared how he can't meet his friends in Haifa because he doesn't have a permit to travel and the frustration he feels being 21 and not able to go 45 minutes away from home. I listened as a young Israeli described how she couldn't return to her work for 2 weeks after a rocket had fallen near it this summer. An older Palestinian from Bethlehem described his experience as a 15 year old when the army would not let him return to his home during a curfew and after making him take the long way around, arrested him. I listened as another Israeli described a moment meeting a Gazan and acting as his legal companion to satisfy permit requirements to reach Jordan. The Israeli shared how it was the Gazan's first time out of Gaza in his entire life—he hadn't seen an orange orchard since he was little. The Israeli took the long way to the Jordanian border with a stop in Jerusalem so that this Gazan could visit al-Aqsa. I sat at breakfast with a Palestinian whose family is originally from Gaza. He described how 15 members of his family died this summer. 11 of them died at the same time when their house was flattened. Yet he continues to come to these meetings. His eyes sparkle when he laughs.

Brought together to share these heavy personal stories, I was surrounded by a lightness. Here we were, a strange mixture of Arabic, English, Hebrew, and patient translations, coming together to talk, to listen, and to be heard.

The second day was devoted to brainstorming sessions: what projects could we create together, what ideas did we want to put into action? Ideas ranged from language exchange, to fundraising for a center for disabled children, to starting a running group and organizing a marathon from Tel Aviv to Ramallah, to trying to humanize the news and remove media bias. Past groups had created Tiyul Rihla, an organization that takes Israelis and Palestinians on tours of historical sites and shares both narratives and Two Neighbors, a fashion line that incorporates Palestinian embroidery in high fashion and is sold in the States. Our ideas were big, yet we broke them down into small steps such as exchanging each other's email addresses. The main goal was to commit to meet again.

I left the bubble from this weekend and I feel hopeful. I am now faced with so many opportunities and new beginnings, new friends and new experiences to come. The weekend was invigorating and inspiring. Good things can begin with something small.

Elections are in 3 days. Hold your breath, knock on wood, and do whatever superstitious ritual you have for good luck. We need it here.

To learn more about the organization that hosts Global Village Square Conferences, click here.