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Palestinian and Israeli whose family members were killed sit face-to-face to talk peace

Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for many decades, with scholars around the world spending years analyzing and explaining why and how. But regardless of how we got here, the violence we saw perpetrated on Israelis on October 7th and the violence we’ve seen perpetrated on Palestinians in the months since has been a drastic escalation with unspeakably tragic results.

People of goodwill everywhere search for hope in times such as these, for evidence that humanity hasn’t been completely destroyed by vengeance and violence, that real peace is in fact possible. And there is no better pair to offer glimmers of such hope than Palestinian peacemaker Aziz Abu Sarah and Israeli peacemaker Maoz Inon, who sat down face-to-face on a TED stage in April of 2024 to share their personal stories and talk about what peace requires.

Unlike those of us watching war unfold from half a world away through the lens of media spin and social media algorithms, these men have lived this conflict up close. Sarah’s brother was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces when he was just 19 years old. Inon’s parents were killed by Hamas on the October 7th, 2023 attack. They both have every reason to be angry—and they are—but the way they purposefully process their anger into peacebuilding is an example to us all.

Inon begins their conversation by sharing how his parents and childhood friends were killed on October 7th, then shares how grateful he was that Sarah was one of the first people to reach out to him even though they’d only met once before. Sarah shares how his brother was killed by the IDF and how all of his friends have lost family members to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, yet praises how he Inon has processed his loss.

“When I sent you that message to offer my condolences after your parents were killed, I was surprised by your answer,” Sarah told Inon. “Not just to me, but your public answer. Because you said you’re not only crying for your parents, you’re also crying for the people in Gaza who are losing their lives, and that you do not want what happened to you to be justifying anyone taking revenge. You do not want to justify war.”

“And it’s so hard to do that,” he added. “So much easier to want revenge, to be angry. But you are a brave man.”

Sarah said it took him “much more time” to reach such a place after his brother was killed. “I was angry, I was bitter, and I wanted vengeance. I was 10 years old and I thought there is no other choice. And only eight years later, when I went to study Hebrew with Jewish immigrants to Israel, that’s only when I realized that we can be allies.”

Both men have been peace activists for years. What’s particularly beautiful about their conversation is that they are talking directly to each other, not to the audience, offering an example of what sitting down with the “other side” can look like when you share the goal of peace. They tell their personal stories and explain what has driven them to seek reconciliation over revenge. They listen to and learn from one another. They acknowledge the difficulty but are unwavering in their dedication to build peace.

The division stemming from the historical reality and current politics of Israel and Palestine may feel intractable, but if these men who have lost so much can find common ground and a shared vision, then hope remains. Their dialogue is moving people to tears and is well worth a watch:


Source: Upworthy
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