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Youth Centre kids invite the adults for a discussion of the Gaza offensive

Sunday 28 December 2008

On Saturday, December 27, the youngsters at the Nadi (the Youth Centre) were intending to put on a party for the community, in celebration of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish holidays taking place in this season. They had spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the party and decorating the youth club, and everyone was looking forward to the event. But by mid-day, it was clear that it would be difficult to have a party in our joint Palestinian – Jewish community today, or in the coming days. The Israeli air force had launched a full-scale attack on Gaza, and the death toll was rising by the hour. The politicians were talking about a “widening and deepening” offensive, and the Hamas were responding with mortar attacks on Israeli towns.

The young people gathered to discuss what to do in this new situation, and after a painful three-hour meeting decided that instead of a party they would host a discussion for the community. It may have been the first time that the young people of the village ever organized a serious discussion for the adults. Some of the youngsters were against it, because they felt that no one would come and, even if they did, that the discussion would lead nowhere. But the majority prevailed, and a well-attended, interesting discussion was the result.

Both young people and adults spoke about the powerlessness they felt in the face of the latest round of violence. But they also spoke of responsibility, and said that our feeling of weakness as individuals can be overcome by the strength derived from being a community. Someone pointed out that a group of Arabs and Jews who have chosen to live together have a unique voice and an important perspective. As if to illustrate this, one of the youngsters compared the almost complete lack of regard for Palestinian casualties in the Israeli news media, compared to the much greater regard for casualties on the Israeli side.

None of the young people or adults attending saw any kind of solution in the current offensive. They understood that in order to reach a solution, a different kind of thinking will be required. A shared Jewish - Arab community has something of value to say about this. The question in the minds of the young people was whether anyone would listen.

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