I heard this again.. First time I heard it was when I saw the movie while I was back in the US the year it was released.. "encounter point"... and I have already participated in a program with the forum with Ali and Khaled, and Osama and the rest in 2005 .. Later I participated in a program and I met you in the office in El-Ram I dont know if you remember me... But I remember you very well.. your story in a way has changed my life and changed in every way possible the way I view politics... It a added a human touch to it, today I am finishing my studies of International relations in the US and I am planning to continue a masters in the field of conflict resolution and peace education.
As a Palestinian, who grew up in the second intifada, I went through painful and painful stories... and I understand completely when you say that you don't want another human being to go through what you have gone through.. Today I tell you: me neither, my childhood is not something I want other children, Israeli or Palestinians, to put up with... From experience growing up in Jenin, I came to a solid conclusion that war doesn't make heros out of those who fight, rather, it only leaves behind victims and memories splashed with blood. We both Palestinians and Israelis have had enough of these.
We have also had enough pain and injustice, and enough of the mentality of revenge and conquering and occupation and suicide bombings and discrimination and hate. All these are continuing to take us together down hell.
I am 20 years old now, and I have been giving lectures and presentations since I was 15 about the conflict and about peace and reconciliation chances.. I spoke at many universities in the US already and also in France where I currently live.. yet never got the chance to speak to local Palestinians or to Israelis in schools or gatherings about my experiences in peace-building organizations such as the forum and others, a chance I dream to get one day... However, your story and Ali's and Mazen's and other mothers from the forum are always present in my speeches.. and they have always touched people and convinced them that reconciliation is possible...
I just wanted to let you know that you and the forum have changed my life beyond what you can imagine. In a way, I see a full picture today with all the colors in between.. I learned from you that our story was never black vs white... I learned from you how to channel my past pain and use it to become a better human being and to contribute positively to my society... I thank you for all what you taught me and I want to assure you your voice is heard out there, and many of us support you... I know you don't need praise, but I am trying to tell you that we need your message today, we need you and the members of the forum to speak because you are more credible than anyone to disseminate a message of non-violence... Your voices are desperately needed, please don't get tired or give up.. I know how hard it is to tell your story, I know how hard it is for me to remember horrific stories of my childhood, yet I feel the moral obligation to retell them, because in a way, they are my evidence for why violence needs to end... We all have paid the price for violence, some have paid much more than others, but we should all tell the cost of violence that we had to pay, may it become a lesson to others. Please don't give up we need your voice!
When I come back to Palestine, I would love to meet you again or get the chance to come hear one of your speeches in any Place I can reach in Palestine... And if you or members of the forum ever plan a visit to the US I would like to invite you to be hosted as honor speakers at my university in Illinois.. There I am the president of the local Amnesty International chapter as well as another human rights organization, and having you on our campus can change much in the mentality of our region, and will be an amazing follow up to what I have started there.. I know you just came from an Evanston speech in Chicago, but unfortunately I have been in France lately so I wasn't able to attend.
Anyway, I want to thank you for everything, and tell you that there are many many people that you never come across, but are still in support of your message.. Hearing your voices gives me a push forward and a reason to continue.. I am indebted to all of you..
Read Robi's story.