Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Ta'ayush (co-existence)

Wednesday, July 3 2002 7:00 PM
Unitarian Church (49th & Oak in Vancouver)
Canada-Palestine Support Network website

Leena Dallasheh & Noa Nativ speak in Vancouver about the Ta'ayush movement and their goal of Peace & Equality between Palestinians & Jewish Israelis

Noa Native - Biographical Details

I was born in 1976 at Sde Boker, a small place in the south of Israel. I am an only child to a hydrologist mother and a father who works in computers in the education system. During my childhood my family moved around quite a bit because of my parents’ work - among the places we lived in are Mitzpe Ramon; Beer Sheba; Austin, Texas; Rehovot; Nes Tziona; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After high school I served in the army in the Intelligence for a term of almost two years, and a year after being released from the army I moved to Jerusalem and began my B.A. studies in English linguistics and literature, and cognitive studies. I finished my B.A. in 2000 and proceeded to an M.A. program in cognitive studies, specializing in computational linguistics. This takes me to the present in this sketch of formal events.

I was never active in anything political or social, until a year ago. I was always immersed in my own world and considered political activity to be something ‘dirty’, and social activism to be something that simply other people do. Unlike Leena, I come from an a-political home and environment - activism is just not considered something that normal people do. In general, I had the faith that somebody was probably running things all right somewhere above.

The outbreak of the second intifada, Israel’s violent response, the elections in which Sharon got elected for PM, and the subsequent horrible escalation of violence here in Israel & Palestine ("ha-matzav") changed that for me. It suddenly became clear to me that if something won’t be done to stop things from deteriorating, we’re all doomed; that apparently nobody up above was going to do what was needed; that in fact it seems that everyone around me had gone mad, and so nobody was going to do anything about the situation; and that so it will apparently have to be me. Worst, it became clear to me that by not protesting against what was being done in my name, I was becoming an accomplice to the horrors.

On June 2001 I shared my sentiments with a friend who works and studies with me, and found out that he and a few other people were just establishing a group of Ta’ayush in Jerusalem. The first Ta’ayush group, located at the center of Israel, was established about 7 months before that, following the beginning of the second Intifada. By now Ta’ayush groups have been set up and are working in the Negev, in the Haifa area, and now in the Galilee. Anyway, I joined the new Jerusalem group, intending to integrate some activism in my life; very quickly I got very drawn in and it became a central axis of my life. I’ve found that once you break down the wall of indifference and detachment between the self and the surrounding reality, it’s very hard to maintain a clear division between other aspects of life and the various events which call out for action, and draw you into more and more of it.

And there was a lot of activity: after several mass convoys (several hundred people each) carrying food and expressing protest have been delivered to various villages under closure in the territories, and various other Ta’ayush activities (such as active protest against the expulsion of the cave-inhabitants of South Hebron area from their lands - our activity included several convoys; staying though a critical night with the inhabitants; a mass convoy to help with the olive-harvest which they couldn’t do because of settlers’ harassments; regular visits of smaller groups of Ta’ayush activists at least once every 6 weeks throughout this last year; and a general campaign trying to raise public awareness to these first transfer attempts), Ta’ayush began making a name for itself and all sorts of new directions of action opened up. It is very easy to get drawn into more than you intended…

Ta’ayush is very much concerned with humanitarian distress and tries to do something to help in that, but never in a context-free manner. In the humanitarian activities we are attempting to express our protest against the policies and actions that created the need for them, and solidarity with the people we meet. In addition, many of the activities are not with Palestinians from the territories but rather inside Israel, in working for equality between all Israeli citizens.

My prospects for the future: again, a complex issue about which I’d like to explicate in a follow-up to this. In general: there are no magic instant solutions; I believe that Israel must of course exit all the PA territories, stop the harsh oppression, and regard the Palestinians are equals for anything to have a chance of working. It will take a long time to undo the terrible hate that the last episode in the conflict created on either side; but I believe that working together, as we try to do in Ta’ayush in an alternative model of really living together, not just side by side - that’s a step in the right direction.

Leena Dallasheh - Biographical Details

My name is Leena Dallasheh. I'm 22 years old and I was born in a small village in the Galilee called "Bouena". My parents were teachers at the time; now my father is an accountant and my mother is an insurance agent. I am the eldest of five children. I have a twin sister, two other sisters and one brother. I finished my first degree at law school this year and I am currently doing my internship at a lawyer's office in Jerusalem.

I joined Ta'ayush at November last year, when a friend introduced me to the group, and since then I've been very active in the group. I come from a very politically involved home, and that made it easier for me to join a political group, to become very active, and to give my time and energy to a group I believe in.

After October 2000, I felt very desperate. I was shocked by what was happening in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel. I couldn't believe that we were once again on the path of violence. I was very hurt and disappointed from the "disappointed Israeli left" who were so hurt that they gave up on peace and were willing to sit aside and see and even legitimize the murder and crimes that were taking place in the name of protecting the Israeli people, but in actuality to protect settlements and occupation.

Ta'ayush gave me back hope. For me, Ta'ayush is the sane voice of the region, a group of good people who give a lot of themselves in favor of what they believe in. We are a group of Arabs and Jews who work together to prove that both peoples can live together here in peace, as equals, in two countries, Israel and Palestine. By acting together, in a close friendship, we try to show there is an alternative.

Sometimes I get very tired and despairing, and I feel that I can't go on, that I want to take off, go somewhere else, and never come back. At those times I think that what we are doing is not effective, that our effort is going down the drain, and that what we do is of no importance and hence we may as well stop doing it. But, when I think about it rationally, when I talk about it with the friends from the group and see what we are actually doing, it becomes clear to me that even if we don't prevent the evil from happening, we do help ease the suffering of people, and we manage to bring a little light to the darkness that has taken over this region for the past year and a half. I see that we are giving a lot of people a bit of hope for a better future, a joined future for the two people in the area, in peace. I see that we can have faith that if as many people as possible work together, we can affect the "consensus" of animosity, make it less of a consensus, and one day achieve the goal of making peace our consensus. We help get the truth of occupation out, we try to show people what is really happening and that the picture the Israeli government is trying to present is not accurate, and that the agony of the Palestinians must be recognized.

We have broken through the physical and psychological barriers that are being imposed on both people and show that we CAN LIVE TOGETHER.

[comments by Noa Nativ on some publicity that emphasized the "humanitarian" dimension of Ta'ayush work'

The focus on humanitarian convoys is not representative of Ta'ayush activities and is not the message we would like to get through - the resistance to the various forms of the occupation and the fight against discrimination are the essence of what Ta'ayush does, and convoys are just one of the ways in which this is done, and certainly not the main way at that. That these convoys provide humanitarian help is even almost secondary - this help is of course not in proportion to the great need, and is thus more symbolic than effective. Ta'ayush activity is to a great extent (even in the ratio of activities) expressed through other forms of resistance - dismantling a road block that was put for no reason (other than harrasment) at the entrance to Issawiya; work camps in several unrecognized Israeli-Palestinian villages; bringing a bus to the Gaza checkpoint (to suggest to the soldiers to return with us back to where they should be..); donating blood for the many wounded in IDFs 'homat magen' operation; demonstrating in front of Ktsi'ot detention camp with loadspeakers to try and let the detainees (whose detention there is of course illegal - they are brought there in masses from any IDF activity, without any charges pressed against them, without right to see a lawyer, without any proper identification even - and who are held there in horrible conditions, and the worst for them - isolated from any contact with the world) hear our encouragement, bringing them packages with newspapers, clothes, cigarettes etc., and flying baloons with "freedom" written on them for them to see - these are just several of the non-convoy activities that Ta'ayush did. A workday on the water infrastructure (laying and connecting pipes) in a village in Bethlehem area, and a project to help the children of Abu Dis get to school and to their matriculation exams (there are constant curfews there) are two current non-convoy projects that the Jerusalem group is working on.