i had a meeting today with one of the directors of Peace Child Israel, an israeli organization that promotes coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs by means of theater. in theory, the meeting was about potential dissertation research, but over the course of the 45 minutes or so of our discussion, the conversation brought up a lot of interesting thoughts about the israeli/palestinian, israeli/arab, jewish/arab conflict.
one of the interesting things that came up was the amount of disagreement within organizations about objectives of the organization’s work, and, more broadly, about desires for the future of an israeli state. what happens when a coexistence organization, staffed by both jewish and non-jewish israelis, tries to keep its momentum going during war (as in, during the gaza war this past winter)? the cracks widen, disagreements abound, and the true complexities of peace-building in israel (note: within israel, not between israel and her neighbors) become painfully obvious. as i was told today, an israeli and palestinian state might exist side by side…but even once they do, it will take 5 generations for relations between all the citizens of this state – the state of israel – to normalize. whatever ‘normalize’ means.
it’s an interesting dilemma, especially for an organization committed to working jointly to give youth an opportunity to see a different future than the one that exists. the words i heard today were, “we agree to disagree, and it’s a starting point.” but that can only go so far, when at the end of the day the political issues have to be dealt with.