Palestinians and Israelis do not meet each other on a personal and equal level very often. The government of the Netherlands supports projects where they do meet. In eight interviews, participants of four projects talk about their personal experience.

Talk

Israeli, 28 years

‘I prefer to talk anonymously about these issues. I can talk more openly this way. I do not know yet what the full impact of my personal opinions will be for my future in Israel.’ read more

Palestinian, 21 years

‘I do not feel like I am a traitor. I am not ‘normalizing’ the occupation by meeting Israelis. I am here to stand up for Palestinians. In a modern way.’ read more

Play

Palestinian, 20 years

‘I felt like a traitor, playing sports with Jews. My neighbor had been burned by Jews and I chose to play with them, the killers? After some time, a Jewish girl from my team texted me.’ read more

Israeli, 30 years

‘My new employer told me: ‘There will be Arabs in the team’. So I said: ‘No way!’ Two of my brothers were in the army, fighting the war. It was a big no-no.’

read more

Care

Israeli, 39 years

‘A lot of Palestinian parents try to take good care of their disabled children. Others may end up mistreating their child because of a lack of money and knowledge. That was sad to see.’

read more

Palestinian, 44 years

‘I feel respected by them. Some of my Palestinian colleagues say: ‘I go there to learn, not to shake hands’. For me, it is not about politics, it is about individuals.’ read more

Work

Palestinian, 26 years

‘If our customers would know we are an Israeli company, it would definitely affect us. We might lose clients in the West Bank. We do not go into detail.’

read more

Israeli, 42 years

‘We tend to think: ‘These people don't wear bikinis, they probably don’t care’. But peoples desires are the same. The desire to feel good when you look in the mirror is universal.’ read more

About
People to People

The stories

The brave people whose stories feature on this website are portrayed anonymously. Some of them do not feel comfortable knowing they could be recognized by their community. Meeting people on the other side is frequently not considered politically correct, or rather, not accepted. In Palestinian society, this is called ‘normalization’, referring to the process of normalizing the occupation. Also, some Israelis wished to be interviewed anonymously. They feel it might negatively impact on their position in society if people know they cooperate with Palestinians. We decided to portray every one of our participants anonymously without taking any position. These people want to meet each other as human beings. They want to feel equal. This is why they are portrayed as a mirror of each other.

The Netherlands

Since 2015, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv and the Netherlands Representative Office (NRO) in Ramallah finance projects that facilitate personal meetings between Palestinians and Israelis. The Dutch government believes these meetings help increase mutual understanding between the two sides and take us one step closer to peace. For this website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands asked Monique van Hoogstraten and Dave Sinai to shed light on four projects that are co-financed by the Netherlands. The aim is to give an account of the personal experiences of Israelis and Palestinians involved in these projects through a series of portraits.

The projects

The first project featured here centres around young Israelis and Palestinians who meet each other on a regular basis to share life experiences and exchange views on the future. The second one is a mixed Arab-Israeli basketball project, in which most participants are girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The third one is an exchange and training program for professionals working with disabled people, children in particular. The last project is about cooperation in the field of business. These four give an impression of the Dutch People-to-People projects. 

The terminology

In the Middle East, people use different words to describe themselves and each other, depending on political views and position. Some Palestinians use the word ‘Israeli’, others use the word ‘Jew’. This also works the other way around: some Israelis use the word ‘Arab’, others use the word ‘Palestinian’. This can be confusing. In all cases, we have chosen to use the words used by the interviewees themselves.

The creators

Monique van Hoogstraten (1964) is a Dutch journalist and historian. She was based in Israel & the Palestinian territories for six years as the foreign correspondent for television news program NOS Journaal/Nieuwsuur and newspaper Trouw. Currently, she works as a freelance writer based in the Netherlands.

Dave Sinai (1981) is an Israeli photographer. He works with several Dutch news organisations as a freelance photographer, such as Elsevier and Algemeen Dagblad. With a background in the arts, as a graduate of The Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Arts in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, he is always searching for new and interesting projects.

For comments and questions:
dave.sinai@gmail.com and mvhoogstraten@gmail.com

  • Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv
  • Dutch representation in Ramallah