What does an Israeli peace activist do when the rockets are flying and the bombs are falling?
I have been going to demonstrations since I was 12 years old – that was 51 years ago. I can easily say that I have participated in hundreds of demonstrations. But I hate demonstrations. They frustrate me. I think in all of these years, there was only one demonstration that I recall that left me feeling empowered – that was after the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in 1982.
I have demonstrated for peace and human rights. I have demonstrated against war and military adventurism. I have demonstrated for social justice and I have demonstrated for a better environment. At demonstrations, I meet a lot of people that I know and it is often nice to catch up with old friends and colleagues, but when it is over, I usually feel that nothing has changed and the demonstration had no impact. More often than not, I go because if it is an important cause, then it is essential that the number of demonstrators be significant. But to feel empowered and to have political and social efficacy, I need to do something more concrete.
During recent years, in the absence of any peace process and any chance of helping to create a peace process, I have focused on building successful, cross-boundary Israeli-Palestinian partnerships. That, too, has become increasingly difficult with the passing of time and the constant deterioration in the state of affairs between the two peoples. Nonetheless, I push on and do what I believe in.
I suppose I live in a kind of schizophrenic reality. Just yesterday I met one of my Palestinian partners in Halhoul, just north of Hebron. I parked my car in front of the Halhoul city hall and joined him in his car. The streets were filled with young kids getting out of school early after ceremonies were held in the schools to commemorate their founding father Yasser Arafat. Many of the kids had the famous black and white keffiyeh draped around their shoulders.
We continued from there to the new industrial area in the city of Tarkumiya where we visited eight large factories to spark their interest in integrating solar energy into their enterprises.