One Palestinian’s tale, from Fatah fighter to prisoner to peace activist.
His mother was a victim of the Nakba, the “Catastrophe,” as Palestinians refer to the 1948 creation of the Israeli state and their consequent dispossession. After the 1967 Six-Day War, five-year-old Jundi and his parents were forced to move again to another part of Jerusalem. As a youth, he threw stones, shouted slogans and protested the Israeli occupation outside Al-Aqsa mosque or the Damascus Gate. He tried to join the 1976 war in Lebanon and later dropped out of school to work in a Jewish-owned factory that fired him for sabotaging the work. Brutally interrogated by Israeli police for his part in a failed bomb plot, he served ten years. In prison he became an organizer, a leader and a teacher, educating himself by reading widely. He studied Gandhi and began to contemplate nonviolence as a tool to effect political change. After his release, after forming some tentative friendships with Jews and after harsh treatment at the hands of the Palestinian Authority, the author drifted into the Palestinian Center for Non-Violence and later helped found the Seeds of Peace Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem, a youth program dedicated to fostering dialogue between Jews and Muslims. With his former Center colleague Marlowe (Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival, 2006), Jundi describes his transformation—without ever abandoning his “stance against occupation, settlements, and land and water expropriation,” he learned to separate political issues from human beings and to fight against bigotry and hate. The authors devote a third of the book to their indefatigable, inspiring efforts on behalf of the Seeds program, even in amid of the Second Intifada, maintaining ties among the children of the warring sides. They also describe their dismay at the political infighting and bureaucratic bungling that led the organization astray. After recounting years of various horrors and indignities, the author’s comment on his firing is the narrative’s most heartbreaking: “Ten years of prison had not damaged me as deeply as Seeds of Peace had.”
Memorably captures in one man’s story the hard work of peacemaking in the Middle East.