I am an Israeli and I have lived in the US since 1990. While living in Davis, California I became friends with a Palestinian woman. I’d had Palestinian colleagues before, but never a friend from the West Bank. Until we met, she had never known an Israeli who wasn’t a soldier or a settler. We both grew up in Jerusalem, in very different worlds. A Land Twice Promised stems from our dialogue.
The process of having a direct and often intense dialogue has been exciting, inspiring, and by no means easy for either of us. Building trust took many years.
As an Israeli, it was not easy to hear her story. I was forced to confront many of my own deep-rooted misconceptions and, in the process, gained insight into the world of my “enemies.”
It was not easy for my friend to hear stories of my family either—initially she was reluctant, but after hearing my story she said:
“I felt my people had enough suffering and I didn’t want to hear anything about yours, but now that I did I am glad. I think I understand something about your people that I didn’t understand before.”
We spent hours arguing and getting defensive as we struggled with the voices of our respective historical narratives that we believed were The Truth. And yet, we were always able to sustain our compassion and never stopped talking and listening to one another.
The experience of our compassion in the midst of passionate argument propelled me to create A Land Twice Promised. Our conversations reminded me of Gene Knudsen-Hoffman’s words “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.” I wanted my listeners to connect with our experience of discovery and common ground so I crafted these stories from our memories.
I tell the human story that stands apart from politics and hope that hearing it will call upon us to listen with compassion without surrendering to prejudice and fear, choose dialogue, and commit to peace.