building a new home in Israel-Palestine
After arriving in Haifa as a Jewish Israeli working for a Palestinian organisation, I realised that — even among activists — there were two separate conversations occurring in Israel-Palestine. The narratives of both peoples were systematically caricatured by the mainstream media, and even close personal relationships between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians tended to shy away from more difficult questions which threaten mythologies that all national identities are built on. The need to maintain a united front in the face of an implacable enemy also contributed to this climate. It seems, in short, that difficult conversations were avoided, and that intra- and inter-communal discussions were often tone deaf.
This was a stark contrast to my own personal journey in regards to this conflict and extensive, patient, and sometimes painful conversations with my best friend — whose family were expelled in the Nakba. Our conversations have not only informed our respective politics, but have also made us better, more empathetic people. These conversations, however, occurred within the privileged distance of diaspora.
This blog is born out of the rejection of a peace based on walls and separation. Instead, it is trying to contribute to some semblance of a joint narrative. The name of the blog, BAYT, means home in Hebrew and Arabic. It is the perfect title for the project as it captures a sense of mutual intelligibility of bayit (Hebrew) and beyt (Arabic) while preserving the distinctiveness of both. The need for Israeli Jews to listen to Palestinians is sharper than the reverse, but Palestinians need to listen to Israeli Jews too. After all, neither population is leaving any time soon, and should not be expected to. The development of a deeper understanding of what motivates your Other is a prerequisite for human rights, equality, reconciliation, and peace — not the other way around. It is therefore an imperative to try and build a new home, generous and capacious enough for both peoples.
This blog is also an attempt to humanise the conflict, as well as to track how and why people change and function as activists. There are some fantastic platforms that exist with a similar mission (+972, for example) but the human angle of these portraits offers a different perspective, and a different insight into the bigger stories and structures that work on everybody in this space.
If you think you would be suitable for interview, know somebody who might be, or want to write an article, please do not hesitate to contact BAYT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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