A Musalaha intern reflects on recent women’s group gathering.
By Sophie Rice | Musalaha| Feb 20, 2020
In this honest, raw space, the group was encouraged that it’s okay and it’s important to hold different perspectives, and that it’s also okay to disagree, but the true beauty of reconciliation is found in our shared humanity.
The journey of reconciliation isn’t always easy. The conflict in Israel-Palestine runs deep through history, society, and personal lives, and given the current political climate you can find yourself asking, “Do my actions really make a difference for peace?” At times, positive change can feel like a small drop in a very large bucket. However, over the past two weekends, two groups of Musalaha women gathered together, one a newly formed reconciliation group and one an alumni group where some had been on the journey with Musalaha for 30 years. As they shared life, meals, honest stories, debate, and laughter, I was profoundly encouraged to see that through genuine friendships and deep love for each other, grassroots change is happening, and hope for a better future is possible.
Our new women’s group gathering was held in Beit Jala where for most of the Israeli women, it was their first time traveling to the West Bank outside of military service. As one woman shared, “Before I came to Beit Jala I was scared because I didn’t know if it was safe for me to drive here alone or not. Now that I’ve been here I know it’s safe.” At this early stage in the reconciliation process there are many new realities, like this, to be exposed to and new perspectives to hear and learn from.
During the weekend, as well as sharing meals, games (who knew Bingo could be so much fun, or so competitive!) and conversations together, the group learned about the Obstacles to Reconciliation. There are four key obstacles that Musalaha deep-dives into: Ideological obstacles; our religious and political beliefs that shape our lived realities, Physical obstacles; boundaries like the Separation Wall and violence as well as misinformation, disinformation and a lack of information about each other, Emotional obstacles; symptoms of fear, suspicion, despair, and apathy that make it hard for us to talk to each other but that we must address in order to resolve the conflict, and Psychological obstacles; any form of prejudice we hold, whether subconsciously or consciously, against other people that leads us to believe we’re better than them.