Below is an email that we just got from one of the Israeli participants in our Face to Face/Faith to Faith program. A ray of hope at a difficult time.
July 27th ---
When I lived in a settlement in the West Bank, Fakir, I had very nice neighbors—the Yaakobi family. They had a son, Nathaniel, who was the best friend of my brother Tamir. The mother was Hannah, a very nice woman who worked in my school. The father, Dani, was a doctor. Even after we left we kept in touch with them, especially me, because their cousin is a very good friend, and I kept visiting them all the time. My brother, Tamir, was a very good friend of Nathaniel’s even after we left Fakir.
Yesterday, the father, Dani, was driving in his car when two Palestinian terrorists kidnapped him. They tortured him in the most unimaginable cruel way, and then took his body to their village and abused it, together with other Palestinians. The body was in such a bad situation that only a DNA sample proved that this is really Dani. His body was found in the baggage of his burned car.
Right now all I want to do is to hug Nathaniel. I feel so sorry for him. But I can’t right now, so I'm writing to you. You guys are the first ones I share my feelings with, and I think it says a lot about the special friendship we have. Since I heard Dani was murdered I feel so horrible. It’s like God decided three years ago to make a list of the people I know and to kill them one by one. I'm so tired of the situation here. I'm not talking about the war in Lebanon. I'm talking about the situation with the Palestinians that we have been dealing with for the last six years. I just cannot understand how we, our parents, and our grandparents have let this happen.
How can we, humanity, ignore the monsters that come from the inside of us? How can God create such monsters? How can a human being do that to Dani? Dani was such a simple man. He wasn't a soldier in the battlefield; he was just a man like my father, and your father, who was driving his car to work. How could someone think he is doing any good by killing a man he doesn’t even know? If they want to fight us, they can just fight our soldiers. Why do they fight citizens? Why couldn't they just kill Dani without torturing him and burning his body, while their entire village is helping them and clapping hands?
And, to all the Palestinians from camp, I absolutely do not blame you for what happened. But I'm asking you to do everything you can to stop those monsters from coming out of your society!
Only now I truly understand how unbelievably important this camp is because, to be honest, before I came to camp and met all the Palestinians and Muslims who came there, and before I visited a mosque, I was exposed only to the darkest side of Islam. I have a mosque 200 meters away from my house—the mosque of Beit Sira. Every Friday the prayers come out of the mosque and throw stones and patrol bombs at Israeli cars, after their imam washes their brain against us. In the past few years things have become so out of control that the prayers entered my neighborhood and put bombs outside the doors of some apartments. Someone from my neighborhood opened his door when a bomb exploded, and he lost his hand.
When I came to camp I met the other side of Islam, and the Palestinian people, and now I know that peace is possible.
All that needs to happen is that this side will be the dominant side in government. The problem here is that the worst people in our side and the worst people in the Palestinian side are leading the Middle East. As much as politics disgusts all of us, I think that the best thing that can happen is that people like us will lead the Middle East.
I want to do everything I can to prevent more cases like what happened yesterday to Dani, even if it means I will have to go to the Israeli parliament and meet with people I hate so much every day. The problem in this world is that people like us just talk, but don't do.
Call me naive, but right now I have this huge ambition to be in the Israeli parliament. I'm always so disgusted by the politicians, surrounded by their media advisers, but lately I want to be one. I want to be one because I think that our politicians are not doing enough. The problem is not only in Israel, it's all over the world. The people in camp—each one of them—is so talented, and has so much to give to this world. I really think we should all be as influential as we can. I think it is our duty.
You can all be influential in your own way, but do something except for talking! Because, if you won't, our children and grandchildren will keep coming to peace camps and crying about the situation. Something has to be done to stop this unreasonable killing and violence. And we cannot wait for someone else to do it for us; we need to do it ourselves!