Posted by CODEPINK Staff
Ariel Vegosen, a Jewish peace activist based in New York City and friend to CODEPINK, has been visiting Israel and Palestine for the past month and was there when Israel began its attack on Gaza. She wrote this piece on her experience from her temporary home in Jenin, Palestine.
As Israel invaded Gaza
I sat with both Israeli and Palestinian teenagers in Haifa.
Jews from Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa. Palestinians from Nebulous, Hebron, and Bethlehem.
These teenagers are part of Seeds of Peace an organization designed to empower youth, create space for dialogue, and cultivate future leaders of peace.
As the war started I sat with teenagers willing to see the other as themselves. Willing to move past identity and sit in a circle and listen to each other. There was nothing easy about the situation. And it was not perfect. But it happened. Both sides together.
Not everyone is best friends, not everyone believes the other side understands, but everyone is committed to trying.
A few days later I went to Beit Jala to be part of a Peace Cafe. A place for Palestinian and Israeli adults to come together and listen to each other. Jews came Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, and one even came from a settlement in the West Bank. Palestinians came from Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem. We sat in circles, ate hummus, and listened to each others thoughts on the devastation in Gaza.
It was not easy. People were frustrated and sad and confused. But we tried. We listened and we opened our hearts and our minds to the other. It was not perfect. There is much more work to do.
But these two moments are a start to what the world can become.
And I have been to protests where Israelis are saying no to the siege on Gaza.
And this is not perfect because other Israelis drive by shouting at us - declaring it a just war.
And I know there is nothing just about war
and I know there is nothing just about killing children
and I know there is absolutely nothing Jewish about isolating a people and not giving them access to food, water, and electricity.
I know my religion teaches me to love, to give, to be just. I know the ideals of Judaism demand that we treat our neighbors like ourselves, that we give Tzedekah and act righteously, and that we do not kill or destroy.
This war is wrong.
We need to end the siege on Gaza.
Not one more life should be lost.
This is not how to run or how to have a Jewish state.
This is not how to be light onto the nations.
I have hope and have faith that Jewish communities around the world will stand up to these atrocities and demand that Israel stop.
I am calling for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza.
And I am calling for an immediate end to the rockets that are hitting Israel.
Violence is not the answer.
All people should put down their weapons and take inspiration from the amazing teenagers I work with.
Peace is possible.
Another world is possible.
Walls can come down.
We need to heal our wounds. Give food and medical supplies to those who need
and immediately end violence.
It is possible.
And I am calling on all political officials to stop the violence.
And I cam calling on all individuals not to wait for our governments to stop the war...
we can stop the war by not fighting.
I sign off from Jenin, where I sit watching the news of Gaza with a generous and loving Palestinian family.
I hope for a brighter more righteous future.