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Seeing Two Sides of a Situation

Posted on 11/16/2011 @ 04:00 PM

Read more about the Panim el Panim experience through the eyes of a teen participant Eitan Redlich, Ida Crown, Chicago, Illinois

I am a Zionist Jew. I am devoted to the land of Israel and support its views. Before Panim, I thought all Palestinians were radicals. I thought there was only one side. I was blind. Today I came in contact with a Palestinian for the first time. We went to McPherson Square to talk to homeless people. Occupy DC was at McPherson square protesting on various issues.

In the middle of mcPherson Square I heard a man speak Hebrew, and I called out to him in Hebrew, "Shalom!" We started talking. After about two minutes, I asked where he was from in Israel. He paused, and I could tell he was uncomfortable. He then replied, "I'm Palestinian." At first I was shocked. Stereotypes went flying through my head. I didn't know how to respond. Then he started to tell me his story. He told me how his brother was killed by the Israeli Army. He told me about how he has every right to hate Israel and the Jewish people as a whole -- yet, he stays positive. He refuses to categorize people in groups, such as "Jews" or "Palestinians" or "Terrorists. He believes once we categorize we let go of any chance of individuality and having the ability to form a relationship.

He gave me a metaphor that really hit home for me: A Jew and a Palestinian are on a boat. There is a hole in the bottom of the boat. Instead of trying to figure out how to solve how to fix the hole, they both yell at each other about who poked the hole in the boat to begin with. By being stubborn and refusing to figure out how to plug the hole, they both drown.

This Palestinian man did not change my opinions about Israel; I am still a strong Zionist. However, I now see that there are two sides. I now see stereotypes are unfair and often untrue. I am no longer blind.

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