Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your loved ones. On this special day, may we ask you to pause and think of the other families we know and love and who, at the moment, are in harms way in the Middle East.
In the current fog of war that has descended so suddenly over Gaza and Israel in the last week, the media commentators and the politicians have appeared almost non-stop on our screens. What they say makes sense at the policy level, and thank goodness the leaders have brokered a cease fire. But the true story of war always happens at the personal level.
In 2010, NSL graduate Shay Zavarro gave a powerful speech to members of Congress and told them, never think of war as guns and tanks, think of war as the story of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters,brothers and sisters. Our brothers and sisters in NSL know that we want to hear their story, and that we are committed to getting their voices heard. Let’s listen to what they have been telling us this week.
Here is a letter from Maisam, a young woman in Gaza, one of our NSL Candidates,
“I (lost) my two cousins: Ahmad 24 years and Khaled 19, and I couldn’t say goodbye because it was too dangerous to go out. However, I am glad with the ceasefire and that things almost got back to normal. It actually rained! Something other than missiles … The kind of rain that brings life rather than death! Thank God….All the horrible scenes I’ve seen and unbelievable experiences I went through didn’t make me lose faith in peace. I still believe in peace and democracy as much as I reject violence and occupation.”
Here is Majed from Gaza, Class of 2012, before the cease fire.
“The situation is getting worse and worse, i was crying all night yesterday for this Hujazi family who lost their parents and their two sons, 2 and 4 years old. Now i am writing this post and the Israeli navy, tanks and Warplanes are attacking everywhere and the number of martyrs increasing every minute…. I wish Peace can come to the Palestinian soon, But it seems like we are going to a worse situation, Gaza is destroyed again, it’s not the city that I knew. They destroy my memories of everything in Gaza. Pray more for Gaza people and Children….”
Here is Noa Shapira, Graduate of NSL 2012 in Tel Aviv.
“When I came home, I spoke to Majed who told me about how terrible the situation is in Gaza. …and the craziest part – while I am trying to understand what side am I on (do I have to choose?), a Palestinian friend from the west bank called me. He heard that it’s not safe in Tel Aviv and invited over to Tul Karem. MY GOD!
While I was at work today, a missile missed us… so close….Having friends on both sides makes this an impossible situation. Friends and family in the south, in the military, in Gaza… and being here? Every sound of a car or a bird in the night makes my heart jump. This political game, this operation or war or whatever they want to call it will end after too many lives will be lost. But it doesn’t matter to say it now, and it won’t matter to say it later. I hope someone out there can save us from ourselves. In the mean time – I am trying not to forget all of what we said over the summer. I really do believe there is another way, and if it doesn’t exist right now – we will create it, one day.”
Here is Or in Tel Aviv, NSL Class of 2012
“2:30 PM and I am on the bus in Tel Aviv- so exhausted from the past week but can’t fall asleep. I am just where the bomb exploded two hours ago on a different bus. I’m looking constantly at the doors, checking who’s getting on and off the bus, what are they wearing and if they left anything under their seat. In my head all the plans and promises I gave today and I just wish to survive this ride and maybe to get a chance to fulfill some of them….
Since I have gotten back from NSL – the West Bank and Gaza now have names, faces, fears, hopes and dreams. Since I came back from NSL I am more certain that we don’t need to look for justice but for peace, and that they are not necessarily related. Since I came back from NSL I am more certain that there are people out there who are capable to carry their communities and strangers, from all ages, genders, ethnicity and beliefs, and to bring them to the point where they understand that peace is richer then justice.”
Happy Thanksgiving and please help us in this urgent work to let the voices of Maisam and Majed and Noa and Or and their generations be heard, the voices for peace and sanity. Go to our web site http://www.newstoryleadership.