By Jaclyn Friedman
It’s hard to believe we’ll be there in just five days. I’ve got a to-do list a mile long, but on the top of it is still: Pinch yourself.
When Nobel Women’s Initiative got in touch in August to invite me to join this delegation, I thought it must have been some kind of misunderstanding. I’m a media activist, a writer, and an educator about sexuality and ending sexual violence. I don’t get invited on peace delegations led by Nobel laureates every day. Of course, I’m also a peace-loving lefty American Jew – I care about Israel and Palestine. But I’ve never taken the time I really should have to understand the dynamics and history of the conflict. And now I’ve been given the opportunity to learn from the participants themselves – it’s the chance of a lifetime, and an incredible privilege.
Since the most important thing to do with privilege is to share it as widely as you can, one of my main goals (beyond listening and learning) will be to take you along with us. To that end, I’ll be blogging here, liveblogging some of our meetings (so that you can ask your own questions of the women we’ll be meeting), shooting and sharing video, keeping a travel diary to be published at Feministing.com, writing articles and opinion for a variety of media outlets, and more.
People keep asking me what I think it will be like, and I never know what to say. I’ve been imagining going to Israel my whole life, but the truth is, whatever blurry things I’m imagining, I’m certain to be wrong. As an American, relying on Western media coverage of the region, there’s no way I can have formed an accurate picture of what everyday life is like in Ramallah, Bi’lin, Jerusalem, Hebron or Haifa.
And that’s the entire point. I may not be able to predict what I’ll learn or see on this trip, but I know that there are women doing extraordinary work in Israel and Palestine every day, whose stories we hardly ever hear in the Western press, and whose names are never mentioned. There are peace talks happening every day there, I’m sure, but those conversations between “ordinary” citizens don’t make headlines. There are acts of heroism and hope, determination and defiance, and there are visions of peaceful solutions being developed that could transform the region, if only they could be heard and understood and supported by enough people. If I can play any small role in making that happen, it will be an immeasurable honor.