On 26th July, more than 25 young Palestinian and Israeli parliamentary advisors, educators, religious leaders and political activists met for an intensive workshop on reconciliation and the conflict. After a series of parallel preparatory unilateral workshops where the participants learned the issue of reconciliation, this was the first time they were able to meet with their counterparts. For all of the Israelis, it was the first time visiting Ramallah.
The day included a series of lectures from Palestinian officials and leading civil society activists, as well as facilitated dialogue sessions between the two sides. From Nablus, Hebron, Tel Aviv, East and West Jerusalem, each brought with them different stories, histories, backgrounds and experiences. Together we explored some of the most difficult questions of the conflict, learned the narratives of the other and shared ideas about overcoming the obstacles together. Following the meeting our participants said:
“A whole generation grows up here that doesn’t know the other. From the meeting today I left with optimism. I realized that Palestinians are just like me: they are ambitious, aspire for success, and want to live in dignity and with equality. I believe if everyone in my generation had the opportunity to meet Palestinians their age, we would be in a different situation. I have no doubt that we will succeed where our politicians failed.”– Naor, 26, Beer Sheva“Understanding the conflict without listening to the other side is impossible, it might give some shades of truth but usually, it is a defaced closed narrative. During these workshops, I began to understand some of the complexities about the Israeli people, which helped me question my own attitudes and the need to approach some core issues differently.”
– Mais, 26, East Jerusalem