Presented by Julia Chaitin and Eric Yellin
Other Voice, comprised of citizens from Sderot/ surrounding Gaza region, works on establishing and developing deep relations with Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. In our ongoing grassroots work, which is based in the belief that both peoples deserve lives of dignity, and full civil and human rights, we carry out our joint work via mobile phone, email, Facebook and internet, and (even) some face-to-face seminars. Over two and a half years we have established a strong network of Israelis and Gazans who work together for co-creating a sustainable human reality, based on the principles of a just peace and security for all peoples of the region.
In this presentation, we will describe our work, bring-ing a short analysis and “lessons learned” from undertaking joint peace work in our special context, when the two sides cannot meet. We will highlight the special challenges that face our trauma-ridden area, and ways to overcome the hatred, stereotypes and dehumanization of the “other” and to expand the network of Israeli and Gazan social justice/peace activists who wish to live together in peace.
Other Voice works in an atmosphere and a context that is extremely challeng-ing: The people of Gaza suffer from a total block-ade, that keeps them imprisoned in their small land, and is still living with the devastation caused during the Operation/War of late 2008- early 2008. People in the Sderot region are continually traumatized from Qassam rocket attacks, snipers, and terror infil-tration along the border. Learning about our activi-ties and our success in building a network of Israeli and Gazan non-violent peace activists will hopefully inspire other peace educators in their work.
We have learned that under the most difficult situation, it IS possible to make peace with our neighbors. The presentation will focus on understandings that we have reached over the years.
In the conference, we envision enlarging our circle of peace activists from the Gaza-Israel region, and also offering concrete suggestions for support and actions that peace educators and activists from other regions can undertake.