Yesterday a Palestinian friend was walking home from work through a valley near his village in the West Bank. From far away he could see a settler coming towards him. He wondered what he was doing there during these times of tension and violence. He sensed his fear. So he called out "shalom". He could feel the settler’s fear dissolved immediately. They approached each other and the settler asked to shake his hand. Then they sat down and talked for about an hour. About politics, about peace, about life. It turned out that the settler was simply there on a walk with his dog. They exchanged phone numbers in the end.
My friend cannot forget that he lives under occupation. He doesn’t enjoy sitting at the café in his village and having tear gas thrown at it by the soldiers every few weeks. He would like to be able to go to the sea whenever he likes, and not just every few months when he manages to get the holy “permit” to enter the land of his grandfathers. His life has been threatened by settlers several times. He’s been held at gunpoint by soldiers and by settlers. This is the normal life of a Palestinian. But he doesn’t allow all this to kill his humanity.
Some people pick up stones, knives and guns to feel that they’re not helpless in this war-ridden land. And others reach out to the other side. Because they understand that instead of spending our precious lives crying over milk that has been spilled, with all the pain, we have to realize that our people are stuck here together, for better or for worse. And it’s up to us to make it work out for the better. This is true power. It’s not in the stone or in the gun or in the knife.