I am Layla Alsheikh from the village of Battir in the Bethlehem governorate. A Muslim Palestinian
Maha Salah - "Touching the humanitarian side of the other"
Education – BA in the Arabic language.
I work as a teacher and live with my mother. I have one brother and three sisters and my father passed away.
On Land Day, March 30, 1997, my brother Abdallah was killed by the Israeli occupation forces during a peaceful march that set out from Birzeit University to commemorate Land Day. He was 23 years old and was in his third year in the Architecture Dept. Six months later my father got a heart attack due to his profound grief and sorrow over Abdallah’s death.
Abdallah’s death was a huge, unexpected tragedy. Abdallah was my older brother and was then becoming a man, about to graduate. His death changed my life and the life of my family forever.
I thought often how to avenge my brother’s death; I hated the occupiers who are obstructing our lives and killing our youths over a peaceful protest. These feelings accompanied me for a very long time. Once, I happened to meet a friend who told me about the Parents Circle Families Forum and its activities and he suggested I join. My first reaction was total refusal since I thought that even one encounter with the other side is treason and a crime. Yet, in 2014, out of curiosity, I participated in one of the Forum’s “Historic Narrative” groups. It was a group of teachers from both sides. After the first encounter I didn’t think I’d be back, but curiosity caused me to return and complete this wonderful program. During the encounters I touched the humanitarian side of the other and I felt the Israelis’ sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinian people. In addition, I noticed that there are mutual foundations to continue a dialogue in view of breaking free of the occupation and making peace.
After the project I started believing in the Forum’s message and joined as an active member. I will continue my endeavors as long as I can so that the future generations can live in peace.