"Through our analysis of Palestinian and Israeli curricula, we have found that both sides tell one-sided stories. I am not saying that the Palestinians wrote their narrative, however, as this was the narrative presented in the school curriculum written by the Jordanians and Egyptians. There is not even a proposition to listen to the other's story or learn about how the other thinks. Another issue is that neither curricula pays attention to the eras of peace and co-existence that once existed between Palestinians and Jews. Rather, both curricula are limited to discussing wars, immigration, revolutions and attacks."
Through his work with PRIME, Sami Adwan is pioneering an educational model that enables both Palestinian and Israeli educators to create school history curricula that includes both historical narratives in a single textbook. Sami was born in a village north of Hebron and finished his PhD. in the United States. He has published widely on the role of education in peacebuilding.
"I have an honorable record within Palestinian society, which largely respects those who have fought and sacrificed for the national cause. This gave me the confidence to talk to people straight. I have greater influence in my community than someone with no history of resistance."
When he was in high school, Raed Hadar's close friend was killed by the Israeli army as they stood together during a demonstration in the first intifada. Raed later spent three years in an Israeli prison for his participation in attempting to build a bomb.
"I totally reject normalization, and am not prepared to sit down with an Israeli just to make him look good in front of the world. I am prepared to meet with Israelis who sympathize with me and believe in ending the Occupation... We should first end the Occupation and then look at living and working together."
Nur El Deen Shehada was brought up in the Tulkarm Refugee Camp and was imprisoned for his participation in the first intifada. Shehada became disillusioned with the violent nature of the second Iintifada and began searching for alternate ways to resist the Occupation. He joined Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy, and later Combatants for Peace, which both advocate nonviolent protest of the Occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
"I didn't know what to do with the pain and there wasn't an outlet for the grief. The Forum is a means of helping yourself in addition to being a means of resistance. It is a different kind of revolution for my people. This is how I view it. You are eventually drawn into this and begin to believe in the principles of what you do. I now feel that I have the capacity to face anybody in any discussion, regardless of his rhetorical abilities. I now believe this is the way to establish our rights."
Ali Abu Awwad grew up in a politically active family and was active in resisting the Israeli occupation during the first intifada. He was arrested for his resistance activities, which included throwing stones, participating in demonstrations and being a member of a political party, Fatah. He was sentenced to ten years in Israeli prison, however he was released after four years after the signing of the Oslo accords. During the second intifada, Ali was shot in the leg by an Israeli settler and went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.
"I want a country that will be able to contribute to humanity in general and to the well-being of its citizens in particular. This is what I care about. I'm not losing sleep over the Zionist dream. On the contrary, as a Palestinian, I have suffered because of the Zionist dream. But the situation that we are living in today forces me to think with my mind and not with my emotions. And this is what brings me to the goal of two states for two peoples."
With the People's Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Dimitri Diliani is involved in gathering over 400,000 (and growing) signatures of Palestinians and Israelis who support a set of principles for peace drafted by Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon. Dimitri is also the assistant of Dr. Nusseibeh, the president of Al Quds University and an outspoken peace advocate. Dimitri lives in Jerusalem and his family originally comes from the West part of the city. As a teenager, Dimitri participated in non-violent protest during the intifada that began in 1987.
"The origin of all success is the freedom of human beings. If any person can feel freedom from occupation, from fear, that is the most important success. Therefore, collective freedom starts with individual freedom."
Dr. Khuloud Dajani is a professor and one of the founders of Al-Quds University. She is active in the fields of public diplomacy, social work and peace activism. Since the beginning of the current intifada, Khuloud has been working with the Palestinian based People's Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which works along side the Israeli based Hamifkad Haleumi. Both are grassroots initiatives gathering signatures of Palestinians and Israelis in support of a set of principles to advance peace. Since the beginning of her career, Dr.
"If we can integrate the abilities of these two peoples it will be a wonderful integration. I have not doubt this is the solution and it cannot be otherwise. I do not see a black future. I do not see that these peoples will destroy each other, rather that within twenty years they will build an economy that will be glorious, not just glorious—it will also contribute to all of humanity."
Helmi Kittani is an economist who worked for over 20 years in a senior position in one of Israel's largest banks. In 1992 he became the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, where he works to strengthen the economy in the Arab sector in Israel, and to build business partnerships between Jews and Palestinians both within Israel and across the Green Line.
"We summarize our work here in three words: peace, freedom, education. Our aim is to create a generation here who lives entirely in democratic freedom with our neighbors. And this is what we want, to be free like all the other people in the world, to participate in creating this generation."
In 2001, Ibrahim Issa returned from living in the Netherlands to become Acting Director of the Hope Flowers School after his father, the school's founder, passed away. Hope Flowers School in El Khader near Bethlehem, teaches democracy, peace and coexistence. It was the first school in the West Bank to teach Hebrew. Prior to the second intifada, Hope Flowers participated in many exchanges with Israeli students and teachers, but these have been put on hold due to travel restrictions.
"First it was curiosity. Curiosity to know the other. I have to know him. Who's that? Who are they? So this was the first thing— it wasn't about peace. Although I came to Ramallah with Oslo in 1994, I suffered a lot at the hands of the Israelis, especially in Lebanon. We were in Beirut when Sharon invaded and I was alone with my daughter. My husband spent his life fighting the Israelis, and he died for it. It's not so easy to make a 360-degree change. It has to be process, that's what I believe."
Ihsan Turkiyyeh is an actress and comedian with Palestinian Television. She has participated in numerous joint projects with Israelis and Palestinians, and currently works with the Arab-Hebrew Theatre in Jaffa. Along with a group of Israeli and Palestinian actors, Ihsan performs Viewpoints, a series of vignettes about the conflict, in schools throughout Israel and East Jerusalem. The daughter of Palestinian refugees, Ihsan grew up in Lebanon before moving to Ramallah.
"If I consider myself a peace activist, then all my words and actions must be devoted to peace. For me this is Jihad, and if I die doing this I will be considered a martyr."
Born in Faradis, a village near Haifa, Ibtisam Mahameed was one of the first women to leave the village to seek an education. A devout Muslim, she works with many groups that promote interfaith dialogue and nonviolence, including the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Golden Road. Ibtisam is deeply committed to strengthening the role of women in society, and was the first woman to run for mayor of her hometown.