by Rachel Rothendler, current Coexistence Track participant
The author (right) on a Tikkun Olam hiking trip
Israel has been my home for seven months now as I study and volunteer with Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Joining the Coexistence Track in Jaffa, I knew I wanted to be part of the efforts to encourage dialogue among the Arab and Jewish populations there and among Palestinians and Israelis on a larger scale. I did not know what form I wanted this work to take, however, until the heightened conflict between Israel and Gaza last November. This period was so difficult for me, not because I was constantly in fear for my physical safety, but because of the outright fear and unconditional hate I witnessed on all sides, as well as because of the countless misrepresentations and misconceptions caused by the mass media. I did not know then where to direct the anger and frustration I felt at the things happening around me.
At about the same time, I began a course as part of my program that dealt with state laws and human rights groups in Israel, sparking my interest in NGOs committed to peace activism in the region. Soon after, I was introduced to the group Combatants for Peace, a multi-national NGO that promotes mutual understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through joint volunteer activities, tours, lectures, film screenings, etc. What struck me most about the group was not their political platform, but their commitment to belief in a reality for both Israelis and Palestinians different from the one lived today. Now there was a concept I could hold onto.
Currently, I am helping to fundraise for CFP’s 8th annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony in Tel Aviv on April 14th. The goal of this event is to bring the two sides together to both acknowledge each other’s losses and to share in mourning, and in so doing, to promote a dialogue of peace. I hope that others in Israel and Palestine as well as in the international sphere will share in my and Combatants for Peace’s efforts to realize a different reality for people here. The Memorial Day event is open to the public, and donations are still welcome! We hope to raise 40,000 NIS (~$10,000) by the time of the event. Please see the links below for more information. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!
Link to the donation site: http://www.razoo.com/story/
The-Alternative-Israeli- Palestinian-Commemoration- Ceremony-Held-By-Combatants- For-Peace
More information on the event: http://cfpeace.org/?