Mishal Baig reflects on the work of peacemakers in the midst of the Israel-Gaza war and, crucially, provides a compilation of resources and organisations exemplifying peacemaking in the heart of crisis.
The heart wrenching conflict inflicting Israel and Gaza is like no other. For the communities there on the Holy Land and around the world, this conflict runs along the sinews of identity, the trees of ancestral stories, multi-generational trauma, and narratives of belonging that clash on a spectrum ranging from the biblical, to the political and personal.
We spoke with peacemakers trying to repair, where possible, the fallout from this conflict in UK based communities. We saw that these peacemakers, rooted in an attitude of reconciliation, brave their limits with tremendous courage, often at personal risk, to work with schools and communities in the UK to tackle Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Polarisation around the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Peacemakers make themselves vulnerable in this line of work as it can rouse deep pain, uproar, trauma, and extreme reactions on either side. These peacemakers, who are Israelis, Palestinains and others, report that during times like these, they witness the narrowing of nuance in narratives.
The impact this has on communities is one of stunting the bridges of empathy that allow people to simultaneously recognise their and others’ pain.
How can we respond to this moment in a way that does not further alienate one over another but nurtures our shared humanity? In the soil of this volatile crisis, what are the seeds of peace we can sow now? How can we support Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers in their most difficult hour?
This is a time for deep inner inquiry as much as for outer support to vulnerable communities and peacemakers. This is an opportunity to deepen our commitment to the light within ourselves and in our fellow human beings no matter how much of a pull there may be toward othering and forgetting our connections.
The following resources and groups and organisations of peacemakers can perhaps serve as paragons for embodying some of the answers to the above questions:
Solutions not Sides’ very clarifying guide to avoiding using Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic language while talking about Israel-Palestine in light of the ongoing and escalating situation in and around Southern Israel and the Gaza Strip.
How should we think about our enemies? An insightful conversation on the Moral Maze BBC Radio 4 programme with contributors and peacemakers from all sides.
Heartening and healing reflections from peacemaker Sami Awad on Israel-Palestine that he shared with the Global Oneness Project.
Solutions Not Sides tackle Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and polarisation around the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK.
Women Wage Peace is the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel whose purpose is to promote a political agreement, involving women in the process. Today the movement has more than 44,000 members.
The Parents Circle is a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of over 600 families, all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the ongoing conflict. Moreover, the PCFF has concluded that the process of reconciliation between nations is a prerequisite to achieving sustainable peace. The organisation thus utilises all resources available in education, public meetings and the media, to spread these ideas.
Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum is committed to supporting the Parents Circle/ Bereaved Families Forum (PCFF), a joint Israeli and Palestinian organisation of 650 bereaved families who have lost a close family member to the decades of Middle East conflict. Instead of seeking revenge, they have chosen a path of reconciliation.
Windows for Peace consists of Israelis and Palestinians working together to promote friendship, understanding and reconciliation through educational programs, media and art.
Combatants for Peace, founded in 2006, is a non-profit, volunteer organisation of ex-combatant Israelis and Palestinians, men and women, who have laid down their weapons and rejected all means of violence. They support a two-state solution within the 1967 lines, or any other solution reached through mutual agreement which would allow Israelis and Palestinians to lead free, safe and democratic lives from a place of dignity in their homeland.
The Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv, founded in 1996 by the late President of Israel, Shimon Peres, develops and implements impactful and meaningful programs with a focus on promoting a prosperous Israel, nurturing and highlighting Israeli innovation, and paving the way for shared-living between all of Israel’s citizens and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.
Holy Land Trust, is a non-profit Palestinian organisation committed to fostering peace, justice and understanding in the Holy Land.
Hope Flowers School in Ramallah has been a pioneer in constructive peace education for over 30 years. The school focuses on children aged 5 to 14 who have been traumatised by conflict and who are exposed to poverty, malnutrition and lack of perspective. The mission: “we are educating for the well-being of humanity”.