Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel to interview a Palestinian peace activist, Ali Abu Awwad. That’s not Ali in the photograph above. That’s Ben, a young man who was once a soldier, but left service early, for many reasons, but one was that he simply wasn’t willing to shoot anyone. We’re on a bus near Bethlehem.
As I got ready for the trip, the ‘knifing Intifadah’ began, mostly young Palestinians randomly stabbing Israelis to death, then being shot.
Pretty much everyone around me begged me not to go. I was very concerned about the situation. Some of my fears were completely irrational. Others, more sane. But, I went.
It was an incredibly intense and emotional journey. I spent most of the trip behind the Israeli Security Barrier, interviewing Ali and his community. I spent some wonderful days in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv meeting some phenomenal people working for peace and reconciliation there. I talked with soldiers and environmental workers, Palestinian and Israeli business people. There were many surprises on the trip.
I was honoured and moved, sometimes awed, by what I heard and saw.
There’s nothing like reporting from a high conflict zone to make you feel like what you’re doing matters, and that what everyone there is doing–or not doing–matters even more.
I interviewed 25 people on the trip. During my time in Israel, ISIS bombed an Egyptian airliner and attacked Paris. Luckily, I never felt in danger on the trip and I came home safely, acutely glad to be secure back in Canada.
It took four months to produce the article from there… to make sense out of the hours of video, the hundreds of photographs, the pages and pages of notes. We’ve finally published the story, “Behind the wall: a nonviolent movement in an explosive land.”
There’s a dramatic narrative arc to keep you involved while I offer you the facts of this challenging situation. So, please, curl up with a cup of tea when you’re home, and enjoy the story.