On April 27th, 2007 we held the second meeting in the project “Knowing is the Beginning”, a series of meetings dealing with the historical narratives of both nations. In the first meeting we visited in “Yad vashem” (the Holocaust Museum) and in Palestinian villages deserted in 1948.
the second meeting opened with small discussion circles in which each participant had the opportunities to share his/her experience and feelings following the visits in the '48 villages and Yad-v-Shem.
After that we the all-participants meeting opened with an account by Rami Elhanan. Rami shared the life story of his father, a Holocaust surviver that arrived in Israel as a as a refugee, the sole surviver of his family, fought in the 1948 war, was almost killed, recuperated, established a family and years later lost his granddaughter Smadar in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997.
Then Ibrahim Khalil and his mother Zakia came on stage and shared their family's story. the mother was 14 years old in 1948 when the bombings of her village, Zarnuga, forced her and her family to flee. She recounted the terrible pain, fear and terror and about the house which nowadays is occupied by a Jewish Yemenite family. She has previously returned once to visit the house, the resident family gave her a few mandarins and were kind to her. To these days her longings to her childhood home are immense. Ibrahim's mother has also lost a grandchild, Ibrahim's son, to the conflict.
The third part of the seminar was led by the professional guides of the project: Dr. Halil Bader and Dr. Eyal Naveh. They explained how the personal memories can be used to explain and justify the national history and how, on the other hand, they can be used to create a new vocabulary of reconciliation and peace. This vocabulary that will form a basis for the acceptance of the other side's narrative and the building of a different future.
Photos by Mashka Litvack.
The seminar and the project were made possible by a donation of the Japanese Embassy. The Japanese Ambassador honored the Forum members with his presence.