Nuggets From Huda Abuarquob's Call
Posted by Janessa Wilder on Sep 26, 2021
Huda Abu Arquob’s family history "challenges the simplistic narrative of Palestinians and Israelis fighting for 3,000 years." She is now Regional Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), a coalition of more than 130 civil society organizations working in Palestine and in Israel on conflict transformation, peacebuilding and nonviolent direct actions. She is also a recognized leader in Feminist Inclusive Political Activism. For Huda, a sustainable peace solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict lies not with political leadership at the top, but with people-to-people dialogues, particularly among women. Her life work involves building strong grassroots Israeli-Palestinian relationships as a foundation for lasting peace. She learned early on that simply fostering contact among people alone, without more collective healing work and social change education, does not transform conflict.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...
- In the Palestinian context, the word "peace" is becoming a reason to feel despair rather than to feel hopeful. We need to reclaim the word away from the systems that tainted it. For example, "peace" negotiations did not achieve any of the goals or needs of both sides. So, unfortunately, violence becomes the language that both sides understand. Israel will respond more to one soldier being kidnapped than decades of attempted peaceful negotiations. The youth are growing up with this.
- Before we use the word peace-building, we use the word trust-building. We need a word that speaks to the people’s needs rather than the leaders’ actions.
- We are trying to change the narrative in the Holy Land. Blood sells and yet the story of the thousands of people who take risks to build peace goes unnoticed.
- Peace-building at the grassroots needs to move beyond contact theory—that just being in a room will change people on either side. We have to move from simply unpacking each other's narratives and from dialogue to action. Doing the work to address the trauma on both sides and non-violent communication. We need more non-violent training and communication for the Israelis, just as much as Palestinians.
- Dignity and equality. We need to feel equal. We need to redefine power. It’s always defined by the gun. What about love? People would laugh at you if you say that there is power behind love.
- More is at stake than our lives. It’s our humanity. We are raising children in an environment who do not think their life is worth living.
- Activism for me is to also reclaim our spiritual identity. Islam begins with peace. We greet every person—"peace be upon you." Islam has been hijacked by extremist voices. Jihad is the search for an internal peace—and then you will have an external peace.
- Spirituality is one of the forms of resilience for women. It is important that we reclaim religion for women. If we call God "He", why can we not call her "She"? In the Quran, God is light. God is not gender. Always, the power of light is there to push darkness. Where do we start—to push darkness from ourselves.
- In my opinion, women are more courageous when it comes to their instinct for protection. They can take extreme measures and risks to protect others. Women are straightforward in this work. They don’t check out any part of their identity. Once they notice a dynamic of oppression, they name it and deal with it right away. Women, rather than men, are the ones who move from political positions to the language of needs. They do it naturally. Men label women as emotional, but this is one of their strengths. They face the demons.
- We connect with Jews and Israelis through God and through the land. Is God exclusive or not? Does He love all his children?
- What gives me hope is Palestinians lust for life. Going to work and school having weddings, hugging their children, loving their children. Even in Gaza, of all places. Gaza gives me hope.