Peacebuilding During a Time of War? Bottom-Up Peacebuilding Between Israelis and Palestinians


Peace News – TRANSCEND Media Service

The aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.
Photo by Naaman Omar, apaimages. License available here.

While the world focuses on the human tragedy of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, there are hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals actively working to build peace. Peace News spoke to some of these peacebuilders to understand their experience during this war.

Yuval Rahami is the Israeli co-general director of the Parent’s Circle Families Forum. He lost his father in the 1967 Six Day War. Bassam Aramin is the former Palestinian co-director of the organization. He lost his 10-year old daughter in 2007 when she was shot and killed by an Israeli border guard. Despite these unimaginable losses, both work together with hundreds of families, both Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones to the conflict. Using their shared loss and desire for peace, they form connections on a human level. They believe that reconciliation and nonviolence are necessary for a future political solution, and that this is the only way forward.

Both emphasized what they believed was the most important project of the Parent’s Circle – education. The program facilitates programs in schools where students are given the chance to meet their supposed “enemy” and can see that the “enemy” is a human like them, and that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible. Rahamim described the experience of the students as deeply impactful, mentioning stories of soldiers at checkpoints in the West Bank who recognize the Palestinians who came to speak to their classes.

Aramin is also a member of Combatants for Peace. The organization was founded by former combatants on both sides and promotes nonviolence to break the cycle of violence. Combatants for Peace has been featured in the award-winning documentary Disturbing the Peace.

The work of both organizations has become harder during the 2023 Israel-Hamas war, which has claimed over 1,400 Israeli and 8,500 Palestinian lives. The Parents Circle’s education work in schools was already stopped by the new Israeli government even before the war, and, with the West Bank on lockdown, it is difficult for Palestinian peacebuilders to meet in person. Members of both organizations continue to meet virtually, and have not given up on their belief in a peaceful future despite these challenges.

Avi Meyerstein, the Founder and President of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a coalition of over 170 peacebuilding groups, highlighted a number of touching stories of peacebuilders during the current war. One such example is Vivian Silver, who is currently a hostage in Gaza. Silver is a core member of Women Wage Peace, who would drive Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for treatment, and yet is now a victim of the hatred she has spent her life trying to combat. Another is Dr. Izzeldin Abduelaish, a Palestinian doctor whose daughter and niece were killed by an Israeli tank. Like Rahamim and Aramin, Dr. Abuelaish has lost so much, and yet chooses to continue fighting for peace. He wrote a recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post in support of peace and an end to the cycle of war and violence.

While the prospect for peace at the moment appears bleak, as Aramin pointed out, there is a German ambassador in Tel Aviv and an Israeli ambassador in Berlin, something which seemed unimaginable after the Holocaust. There is always hope for peace, and the work of these groups and others like them shows that Israelis and Palestinians can reconcile through nonviolence.


International news today is driven by sensationalism. From conflict zones, we hear stories about killings, bombings, and the views of violent extremists. This type of coverage tends to inflame passions and perpetuate negative stereotypes, fueling distrust and violence. Peace News aims to present the other side – stories from conflict zones we often don’t hear. Our stories are about people taking risks for peace. We highlight the opinions of ordinary people who want non-violent solutions to their political differences. Our stories aren’t always about shootings and explosions, but they do tell you stories from war zones that hopefully go some way towards building trust and reconciliation. Founded by Dr Babak Bahador, and launched in 2015, Peace News is a non-partisan, independent, news agency. We are based in New Zealand and Washington D.C., USA, and Kate Roff is the founding, and current, editor.

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One Response to “Peacebuilding During a Time of War? Bottom-Up Peacebuilding Between Israelis and Palestinians”

  1. If hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals are actively working to build peace, why do we have an increasing number of wars, ever more lethal, increased number of international Arms Fairs and increased violence in society?

    Peacebuilders only stop a moral or emotional wound from bleeding. Proper healing can only happen in thr absence of the War industry and its legal consumers: Armed Forces

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