Steven Weisman


Organization: Palestine-Israel Journal
Location: Palestine
Year: 2012

MRP/Thesis abstract:

Opportunity Lost: An Examination of Possibilities and Challenges to Israeli-Palestinian Joint Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and their ability to Actuate Change.

Before the formal declaration of the state of Israel in 1948 Dema’s grandfather, a Palestinian, worked side by side with Jews. He never had any ill will towards them, and his neighbours, regardless of religion or ethnicity shopped at his wife’s store and traded with them openly. There was no divide between East and West Jerusalem, and they all did business together and traded with each other. In 1948, when the Israeli state was created, chaos hit Dema’s family as it did for Jews and Muslims alike. In the anarchic state that existed in that period, Dema’s grandfather was killed along with two of his children. Though not many details are known about the circumstances, he and two of Dema’s would-be-aunts were among the many souls lost to the conflict. Dema’s father, rather than hating the Israelis who had now come, worked with them in business and in life in the same way his parents had done before him. He grew up before the West Bank became a part of Israel and before a wall was constructed to separate the Jews in Israel from the Muslims on the other side. He grew up in a time when you could not live in Palestine without seeing an Israeli, a time in which space was shared between Palestinians and Israelis like his parents before. He worked with them, he lived with them and many of his close friends were Israelis. During the 60’s, the integration between the two groups was so high that most Palestinians spoke Hebrew themselves.