Peacefulness has been a common theme throughout my life and my journeys. My mother and father have been through so much growing up under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Many of my dad’s friends have been imprisoned during the occupation, and many have died from the military violence and shootings that occur. Still my parents raised me with Quaker values, whether it was from attending a Quaker school (where my mom was a teacher) or taking me to the meetinghouse every Sunday before my piano lesson. Through their actions and choices, they taught my siblings and me to understand the Quaker testimony of peace.
Being peaceful doesn’t always come easy, especially with Palestine being under occupation; everyone is so angry and they resort to violence. Even my father has been through this phase, where he was so angry at the occupation, he started throwing stones at the Israeli army. After his friends were arrested, my father quickly realized how stupid throwing stones at soldiers is, how being violent toward an army will bring you nothing, how it will do no good. My father is not a Quaker, but he believes that violence will never do good. Violence is not the answer. Being peaceful amid one’s anger shows one’s strength. Stones and rocks mean nothing when it comes to resolving an issue as big as an occupation.
My mother has always believed in Quaker values. She likes to go to meeting for worship every Sunday as it allows her to connect with her Inner Light. When I was back home she liked to take me with her; she tried to teach me Quaker morals as much as she could so I can live with them on a daily basis. My mother is one of my biggest role models for being a peaceful person. Living under the occupation and in an extremely close-minded society has made her even stronger. I also live in an extremely close-minded society; it is extremely sexist, and somewhat violent in its own ways. But even if one is absolutely livid, screaming at someone and hurting someone will not do anything. My mother always told me, “Although you’re angry, take a deep breath and talk—don’t yell, speak.”
My parents made sure that I did not grow up approaching situations in a violent manner, that I did not approach problems with an attacking demeanor, whether it was a verbal argument or a physical fight. Whenever my parents and I fought, we would sit down and talk through it; there were very few situations where someone had to yell. Growing up in this environment may be very hard, but I am glad my parents raised me to be a strong independent woman amidst the brutality of the occupation. I learned that I may have significant anger toward this occupation because it took away precious people in my life, but I also learned that settling violence with even more violence and hatred will never solve this issue. I learned that peacefulness is always a way to go; it’s always possible.