The words below were written ten years ago in 2002 in the heights of the second Palestinian appraisal and the re-occupation of the West Bank by Israeli defense forces. At the time I was undergoing an MA in Peace and Development in a unique project designated for Israelis and Palestinians young professionals. All of us were doing our first steps as human rights and development professionals. All of us were caught in the midst of violence we desperately tried to end.
“….I was sitting at my office in downtown Jerusalem on a Thursday afternoon when suddenly I heard a huge explosion. Then a moment of silence. I froze. From the window I saw birds flying and smoke rising. A minute later the city was filled with sirens, ambulances and chaos. I called my mom to let her know that I was OK. It was another terrorist attack.
Two hours later I was sitting in a classroom in a building located on the border of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with me thirty Palestinian and Israeli students. From the window Israeli air force jets attacking Bethlehem and Palestinian gunmen shooting at Israeli forces could be seen. Inside we were discussing theories of Peace Research. We were very tense. No one knew exactly what was happening outside. Suddenly, Ihab, one of my Palestinian colleagues, received a phone call and rushed out of the class. We knew that he lived in Bethlehem and were worried that someone from his family was hurt or that something had happened to his home. Ihab came back a while later looking upset.
On our way to dinner, Camy, an Israeli friend, told me that she felt bad for Ihab. She also said she felt guilty. I answered that I was very sad and could empathize with Ihab, I also said I felt responsible but definitely not guilty. Still, when I went to sleep that night I asked myself how come I wasn’t feeling guilty? Was there something wrong with me? Am I guilty? Responsible? Are we the bad guys of this story? Are they? Is there a bad guy in this story?
That Thursday ended with 20 Palestinians and 15 Israeli dead…”