two_sided-story      In her book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State, author Shira Robinson discusses Israel as a settler state, and the policies that it put in place that disenfranchised and discriminated against Palestinians. While discussing Israeli law and military strategies, she also touches on the violence that erupted since the War of 1948, and the loss of life in instances such as the Dayr Yasin massacre.

In many cases, violence and bloodshed have defined the Israeli-Palestinian relationship from the War of 1948, the establishment of Israel, all the way to the present day. In response to this, overtime various grassroots organizations have emerged to help facilitate understanding and empathy between Israelis and Palestinians. One of these is the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a grassroots organization formed by Israelis and Palestinians that aims to foster compassion and understanding by facilitating dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family members to the conflict. They see reconciliation as integral to achieving peace in the region, and by sharing stories of loss and grief the PCFF aims to challenge the binary of an “Us” and “Them” that both Palestinians and Israelis see one another through.

While on the ground the organization works with Israelis and Palestinians who have  lost immediate family to violence, the PCFF also uses the medium of film to disseminate its message for reconciliation and understanding to a broader audience. To show the necessity and effects of dialogue, in 2012 the organization produced the documentary film “Two Sided Story”. The film, directed by Tor Ben-Mayor, shows a dialogue workshop held in Beit Jala, where Arabs and Jews from different walks of life come to speak of their experience of loss of loved ones at the hands of violence. It displays the creation of a “third space” where dialogue is exchanged between Arab Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, in a realistic and productive manner. Rather than perpetuating an “ideal” situation where everyone understands the other’s perspective and struggle, the film highlights the uneven power dynamics between Palestinians and Israelis, and how often both sides do not understand the opposing perspective. Through “Two Sided Story” the PCFF shows individuals who while often not accepting one another’s politics, anger, or defense, find common ground through mutual grief and a search for peace.


Author: Mehr Ali


“Two Sided Story.” Two Sided Story. The Parents Circle-Families Forum, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

“Two Sided Story.” Two Sided Story. The Parents Circle-Families Forum, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.





f-16-pythonIn her book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State, Shira Robinson explains how Israel utilized the idea of military rule, and how they deployed military force within their frontiers.

Living under military rule must have its repercussions. Israeli children probably adore their military. It keeps them safe; it protects them from “the terrorists’’. The book mentions the Israeli Government’s “fear-mongering” which ensures that the majority of the public continuously support their military expeditions.

gungirlsHowever, seeing drones flying over your head to bomb your neighbors constantly must normalize the idea. Government propaganda surely must glorify violence. This would foster within children, from a very young age, heartless tendencies.

Filmmaker Itamar Rose made a video that vividly reflects that.

Itamar Rose and Yossi Atia are both Israeli filmmakers of Israeli satire, aiming to bring to light issues that currently face the nation, including the issue with their Arab neighbors. Their films aim to make people see the truth of their reality and to take a new, fresh look at it.


In 2009, the two filmmakers uploaded a video named “The Jewish Arab State” through which they explored the notion of a bi-national state, asking Palestinians from Taybeh about how they would begin creating it. Ironically, they asked the interviewees to re-establish the idea of the “other”, choosing someone else to be discriminated against. The choices were haphazard and clearly born out of personal prejudice, hence proving the arbitrary nature of discrimination.



Below is the video by Itamar Rose, interviewing Israeli children visiting the Israeli army museum:



Children are innocent, and easily impressionable. To see children speak of killing and war in such an offhanded manner is very telling.

The idea of the video is to depict the dangers of living under military law, having military-influenced education and how it can affect the mindset of the children.

Raising children to be so glory dazed, blinded by militaristic ambitions, can signify two things: one, Israel’s military will continue to grow, and two, the bloodshed will not cease. In fact, if anything, it might intensify.

In short, the main point of the video is: guns can backfire.



Author: Rua Akhzami

Bibliography :

Robinson, Shira. Citizen strangers: Palestinians and the birth of Israel’s liberal settler state. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

Israelis kids in the army museum . September 20, 2012. Accessed February 19, 2017.

“UN: Ensure Integrity of Children’s ‘List of Shame'” Human Rights Watch. June 04, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2017.

“Yossi Atia.” Wikipedia. Accessed February 21, 2017.


Playing a-nationally

February 16, 2017

Bi-nationalism is a perspective that relies heavily on cultural exchange, understanding and elevation.  Often times it is the cultural strangeness that can create the cleavages that serve to the detriment of peace and progress.  There are many different forms of cultural expression that can be transferred between religions, creating a new market for ideas and understanding.  There is a different way culture can create unity, albeit imperialist in nature.  The ability to connect on a level of universal culture; in my chosen case, Rock and Roll.


American cultural understanding has snuck its way around the world.  Not much can be done of this retroactively.  This can, however be taken advantage of as a kind of universal cultural language.  The band Typo is a result of this Rock and Roll expansion.  They have adopted this style of music as their form of expression.  Their name represents their philosophy: “Typos are arbitrary, just like everything in Gaza. We didn’t plan to have our band, it all happened suddenly, just like a typo.”  They are on a mission to “reflect on the experiences that [they] fo through in Gaza.”  This is a powerful message, being played through a medium of American/(I hesitate to say this because it irks me) Universal music.


They have faced some problems in creating a stable existence as a band.  They do look inward, not targetting an Israelis audience, but rather their own people.  This runs in to trouble as, with good reason, “Palestinians, and Arabs in general, do not easily accept foreign concepts, especially relating to culture and traditions.”  While this can be a problem internally, almost unintentionally, it can be a lubricant of understanding to the outward groups.  The hope, to me, is that Israeli citizens will be more willing to listen when the noise is coming from an inherently cague culture, uncapable of being confined to a state, nationality, or ethnicity.  In playing Rock and Roll while singing about the experience of Gazans, the band Typo has created a space in which, perhaps unsuspecting, Israelis and those with intellectual dissonance, can listen to the stories of others in a realm free of bounded culture.


Rocking Conflict

February 14, 2017

Ran Greenstein in, “Zionism and its Discontents”, discusses the Bi-nationalist perspective during the British Mandate. What was interesting was the struggle between various movements to agree on the Jewish initiative in Palestine. There was a misunderstanding between Arabs and Israelis because of, “lack of familiarity with each other’s language and culture”. This seems to still be a struggle of this conflict.

In the “National Survey of Arab/Palestinian/Jewish Dialogue Groups” one of the strategies mentioned in order to facilitate group dialogue and understanding is by creating intercultural events, dinners, and religious events. These events allow individuals of both groups to get to know each other, their backgrounds, and break the misperceptions that each group have about the other.

In 2014, two heavy metal bands (one Israeli, the other Palestinian) went on tour together in order to try to create peace. The Arab group called “Khalas” and Israeli group, “Orphaned Land” went on an 18 day European tour to create tolerance between both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They had concerts scheduled in the Middle East, however, when announced that it was a joint tour, some venues were cancelled. As stated by Hathut, Khalas’ lead guitarist, “In daily life, I feel that each side does everything to keep up apart. When people are afraid, it is easier to control them. What we do, our friendship, is very dangerous to those [leaders].”

This tour was a way to promote social justice and peace in Palestine/Israel. With individuals from each side hearing the same message, enjoying the same songs, and also being able to hear political statements from musicians they enjoy.



“Abed (far left) of Palestinian band Khalas and Kobi (third from right) of Israeli band Orphaned Land Ami Bernstein.”  Courtesy of


Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land.

Author: Olivia Camper


Mackay, Mairi . “Rock the Conflict: Jewish and Palestinian Metal Bands Tour for Peace.” CNN. Cable News Network, Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Smallman, Etan. “Meet the Israeli and Palestinian heavy metal bands head-banging for Middle East peace.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

iNakba: the invisible land

February 1, 2017

Zochrat, or “remembering” in Hebrew, is the name of an NGO based in Tel Aviv that has been working since 2002 to disseminate accurate information about the Nakba of 1948 and encourage acknowledgement and accountability on the part of Israeli Jews.

The iNakba app was created using GPS technology and crowd sourced media — guiding users to explore locations of Palestinian localities that were destroyed during or because of the war in 1948. The tri-lingual app allows users to contribute to our collective knowledge about these forgotten histories by uploading photos and videos, as well as sharing thoughts and feelings through comments.

This movement has gained some traction over the years, and terming Israel’s “War of Independence” as Nakba has risen to the surface of Israeli discourse. Zochrat hopes that this app will remind Israelis of the hundreds of villages destroyed and thousands of Palestinian refugees that resulted from the creation of Israel.

Ideologically, Zochrot does not specify a political agenda pertaining to Palestinian’s right to return to these historic homes. However, they aim to challenge Israeli misconceptions about their history, derive a moral responsibility for for the return of Palestinian refugees, and understand their privileged power position under the current regime.

Source: Sheehi, S.: The Arab Imago: A Social History of Portrait Photography, 1860–1910. (Hardcover)

Jewish Voices For Peace

January 10, 2017

(On CounterPunch September 9, 2016, 6900 words, and below; 13,000 word version here) The scurrilous attack in summer, 2015 on Alison Weir and If Americans Knew by Jewish Voice for Peace and US Campaign to End the Occupation, has threatened Weir and her audiences with violence. On March 30, Weir spoke at the Walnut Creek, CA public […]

via Ms. Weir Goes to Washington — The question of Palestine


Sanam Analouei

Communication and interaction amongst Palestinians and Jews is facilities dialogues of peace as each side realizes the humanity in the other. Many of the projects presented in the blogs/ presentations over the semester have displayed groups and people trying to facilitate this dialogue; however, these dialogues, or “friendly contacts…between Palestinians and Jews [do not] change the basic conditions of Palestinian existence much” (243). At the end of the day, Palestinians who live within Israel will face barriers of entry and discrimination, while Palestinians living in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza will have only the memories of civil equality as they go back to their homes run by military law. As Seth mentioned in his own blog, many Palestinian run groups to “serve practical utilitarian ends,” because the crippling infrastructure within occupied territories must first be dealt with in order to open up any platform for peace talks and negotiations. Organizations such as GISHA help address the human needs that are not accessible to Palestinians, and in this way, allows the foundation for peace to develop.

GISHA: Overcoming Barriers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

GISHA is an Israeli, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization “whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.” Founded in 2005, the organization is operated by a “professional staff and guided by a board that include legal academics and practitioners, women and men, [and] Arabs and Jews.” The name of the organization, GISHA, means “approach” and “accesses,” and hopes, through legal actions, to help and protect Palestinians rights. Rights such as “the right to life, the right to access medical care, the right to education, the right to livelihood, and the right to family unity and religion” are linked to and dependent on the freedom of movement, which GISHA fights or on behalf of Palestinian residents in the West Bank and Gaza (“Gisha | About Gisha”). 


Palestinian Farmers in Gaza. N.d. Al Jazeera

One example of GISHA’s legal actions is a fairly recently one involving the Israeli army spraying unknown herbicides on lands in the buffer zone of Gaza. The farmers of the destroyed land, with the help of legal groups such as GISHA, are able to seek damages for Israel’s crop-spraying that are not only economic but also health related as it is believed that the herbicides could cause health problems.

Another example of GISHA’s legal actions has been against the COGAT (Coalition of Government Activities in the Territories) to publish documents of procedures in both Hebrew and Arabic so that those living in the territories are more aware of their rights, which involve the ability to travel outside of the occupied territories. 

Israeli NGO Gisha petitions COGAT to publish procedures in Arabic

As seen in the reading, “the representation of Arab citizens in the judicial system and diplomatic services is minimal, far from reflecting their numbers in the population of the state”(205). Moreover, those living in the occupied territories face even less political and legal representation as they are considered non-citizens (207). As non-citizens, these Palestinians are subjected to martial Israeli law, which supports the overarching theme of the reading as Israel being a nation of two separate regimes; there is one rule, and two legal systems (Kestler-D’Amours). GISHA, operating under Israeli law, as well as international human rights and humanitarian law is able to expose the illegal incongruences the Israeli government has inflicted using its own legal system.

For many Palestinians, working with such legal groups as GISHA would be admitting that Israel has a rightful legal grasp on them; however, for others, using the law to combat is a non-violent alternative to achieving their needs. Despite the many wins that legal groups such as GISHA have achieved, many of the rulings from Israeli courts do not follow through timely. In the documentary, Five Broken Cameras, the Palestinians in Emad’s town celebrated the ruling of the court to bring down part of the wall, but did not see physical action taken for months.

Groups like GISHA ensure that Palestinians have a legal voice with which to fight and have representation. Moreover, they assist in alleviating the conditions of occupation in which Palestinians live in, and in this way, attempt to provide a foundation in which peace can be discussed.

Work Cited

“Gisha| About Gisha.” Gisha. N.p.,n.d. Webd. 26 July 2016.

Kestler-D’Amours, Jillian. “Gaza Farmers Seek Damages for Israel’s Crop-spraying.”-News from Al Jazeera. N.p., 14 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.

“Legal Center for Freedom of Movement (GISHA).” Insight on Conflict. N.p., Mar. 2012. Web. 26 July 2016.

During protracted conflict, often the most important and least present components of resolution are dialogue and humanization. This can certainly be said of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with many on either side painting the other with the broad brush of assumptions or misinformation. So what do Israelis and Palestinians on the street really think about the issues on the ground?

Enter Corey Gil-Shuster. Corey is a Canadian-born Israeli with an academic background in conflict studies. After moving to Israel, Corey became frustrated with the black and white nature with which Palestinians and Israelis characterized each other. It seemed to him that neither side really heard what the other was saying and that there was far more variety of opinion than one would be led to believe through traditional media outlets.

As a result, Corey took to the streets with his camera and began the Ask Project, consisting of Ask an Israeli and Ask a Palestinian. The Ask Project is a series of videos hosted on Corey’s YouTube channel based on submitted questions  addressed to either Israelis or Palestinians. These videos cover a vast array of topics and opinions from conditions on the ground in Gaza, to views on Islam and Judaism, to requirements for peace, and everything in between.

In Corey’s own words, “The basis of conflict resolution is good analysis. If we don’t analyze the conflict properly from all sides, taking in all important aspects of it, we cannot really understand the conflict and cannot find solutions that work for those involved.” This analysis may involve asking hard questions to both sides of the conflict and understanding the different though processes involved. This is why for the sake of honesty, Corey does not edit down his interviews and simply posts the uncut statements of the participants. Some of the questions and answers are hard, but the goal is that through honest dialogue, communication and connection can be reached between the parties. “I hope people open their minds and understand that no situation is black and white,” says Corey. “I recommend that anyone with strong views on the conflict spend an equal amount of time with both people just getting to know them and maybe even working to bring them together.”




David Dean Shulman is an American-born Israeli who is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the languages of India. He was the recipient of Israel Prize for 2016 and has since then announced that he will donate his 75,000 shekel prize to Ta’ayush, an Israeli organization that provides support to Palestinian residents in the Hebron area. 

In the fall of 2000 various volunteers both Isareli and Palestinians joined together to create Ta’ayush (Arabic for “living together”). The organization is self described as a “grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation by constructing a true Arab-Jewish partnership.” They strive for a future of equality, justice and peace through concrete, daily, non-violent actions of solidarity to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and to achieve full equality for all. Rather than focusing on media or increased dialogue their activities and activists of Ta’aysuh have always been concentrated on field.

Ta’ayush serves as an ideal example of the intersection of bionationalism with land and immigration. and in a way a continuation of the founding principals of Brit Shalom. Arthur Ruppin, senior Zionist settlement official, understood that land would always be of particular concern. He stated that “soon, when land is no longer available, the settlement of a Jew will inevitably result in the dispossession of a [Arab] peasant and then what?” For Brit Shalom, Jewish immigration and land settlements was important but should not be carried out at the expense of Arabs. They argued that some of the land purchased by the Jewish Agency must be allocated to tenants and they could be employed and work part of it. However, that vision has not been realized with the dispossession of Palestinians by Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The main focus of Ta’ayush is to oppose this dispossession by having Israelis  meet Palestinians whose houses have been blown up by the Israeli army, shepherds whose sheep have been poisoned by settlers, farmers stripped of their land by Israel’s dividing wall. They document  as the police on horseback attack crowds of nonviolent demonstrators, as Israeli settlers shoot innocent Palestinians harvesting olives, and as families and communities become utterly destroyed by the unrelenting violence of the occupation. Opposing such injustices, Ta’aysuh actvivists  work through checkpoints to bring aid, rebuild houses, and physically block the progress of the dividing wall. As they face off against police, soldiers, and hostile Israeli settlers, anger mixes with compassion, moments of kinship alternate with confrontation.

The Ezra Nawi affair was a particularly interesting attempt by Ta’ayush to prevent the expansion of settlements. The sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is illegal, and in this case Nawi, an left-wing Israeli activist, would pose as a buyer and make offers to Palestinians and later turn then in to the Palestinian authority. Nawi was arrested by the Israeli police for attempting to flee the country as an investigation was underway.They recorded Nawi allegedly making incriminating statements that anyone selling land to settlers would suffer retaliation from the Palestinian Authority. However, Nawi has since been released to house arrest after a court ruled that police had not presented sufficient evidence to hold him.