Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peace project critique gets positive feedback

An article calling for a sea-change in the way peace and coexistence projects treat Jewish suffering and rights has provoked an overwhelmingly positive response among Middle East peace activists.

The Jerusalem Post piece, by Lyn Julius, focused on the almost complete absence of discussion in peace projects of the trauma suffered by Jews from Arab countries:

"The murder of the Qashqoush family still haunts Janet Dallal, a classmate of the late Joyce Qashqoush, who was just 16 at the time of the murder. Janet fled Iraq in 1975 and is now a Tel Aviv mother of three and yoga instructor with a keen interest in binational peace projects.

"But when she attended a recent conference at the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, Janet was shocked that one session examining the “healing of communal wounds to achieve reconciliation” did not recognize the trauma of Iraqi Jews – nor indeed the trauma suffered by any Jews from Arab countries."

The article then goes on to suggest that an acknowledgement of Jewish suffering by Arabs can help achieve sulha - reconciliation.

Janet Dallal circulated the article amongst her fellow peace activists and found the response to be overwhelmingly positive. Most asked for more information. Only one person asked to be taken off Janet's email list.

The extraordinary piece of feedback below came from a member of a Middle Eastern minority living in an Arab country, whom Janet had got to know at a peace conference in Amman:

"I just read the article...and suddenly I wish (once more) I was there, at the (Neve Shalom) conference!!!!! "And it comes where it should be! recognizing all the hurt! yes! the hurt done by Arabs towards Jews!

We've heard similar sad stories in Amman during July conference... And, those stories were among the ones that moved me most. We tend to take our story and victimize ourselves. We need to see the whole picture, the whole history.
These people where dehumanized in the lands that were considered "home" for centuries!!!! They were forced to leave everything behind. Expelled! They too, need to hear that what has been done to them was wrong. They need to hear their perpetrators admit what they did was pure hatred.

"That's what transitional trauma is all about! When victims don't get recognition, they carry their fears for centuries, and hate can easily drag them (us) to violence. "But it's hard to work on transitional justice, on healing wounds... That's what I'm talking about... We need to point ALL wrong actions/reactions. Tell who is the perpetrator and who's the victim. Who killed and who was killed, how much have been killed and how many innocent, who expelled and who was expelled... if we want to move forward.

"I love this article! I can only imagine the dynamics that were moving this discussion...and I'd love to share this article with Arab friends! Can I forward the link?"

For her part, Janet will not rest until all Israeli peace projects feature the trauma of Jews from Arab countries on their agendas.

For those coming for the first time to the subject of Jewish trauma in Arab countries, we suggest the following material:

In Ishmael's House by Martin Gilbert
Arabs without Jews: roots of a tragedy by Magdi Allam
Who is an Arab Jew? by Albert Memmi
The Forgotten Refugees film by the David Project
JJAC bibliography
Any books by Norman Stillman, Maurice Roumani, Shmuel Trigano, Andre Aciman, Eli Amir.


Sylvia said...

Eli Amir? Since when?

bataween said...

I was thinking of his book The Dove Flyer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I warmly recommend Sir Matin's book (In Ishmael's House).
It is a good and exhaustive book by a man who is Winston Churchill's biographer.
suzy vidal