One evening as I was driving home listening to the news on the radio, I heard something unusual in a particular news update. It’s not often that our local media discusses meetings between Israelis and Palestinians. Usually, such gatherings are played down, but this was different, not only due to the fact that it was reported, but also because of what was said in that update:
We have waited long enough for our political leaders to take initiative and to solve the conflict, but their efforts have been unsuccessful. It’s time for us to take responsibility. We realize there is a need for activity, and for grassroots movements to address the issues we are facing.
This echoes what we are increasingly seeing here at Musalaha within mainstream Israeli society. Recently, a group of Israeli Jewish women approached us saying something needs to be done. “We are disappointed with what our political leaders are doing. We want to build bridges with the other side, hear what they are saying and learn what they are thinking.”
These women not only approached Musalaha for training, but also formed a group. We began meeting with these teachers, architects, and professionals, introducing them to our work and philosophy. Their desire to move forward is very strong.
If small groups of people in different parts of the country begin to form and grow, this will be encouraging. Do we see a sign for change? It will take time to see if this is a growing trend, but there is no doubt that some people want to take action.
For a long time we have taught that change in “intractable conflicts” must start through grassroots movements and initiatives by
local community leaders. This growing awareness is coming not only from those who are already engaged in building bridges in society, but from average people in the community who are no longer waiting for change to come from their political leaders.
Let’s pray that this will grow.
by Salim J. Munayer, PhD