During our last trip to Israel and Palestine, Nathalie Oberweis and myself set ourselves the goal to ask every peaceworker and activist we met the same question: 'What is your motivation to work towards peace?'. We recorded the answer and did not give time for reflection, looking for a spontaneous, honest and short answer. The answer given was the truth for that moment, and it might have been different an hour later or upon reflection. We found it astonishing how different the answers were, how motivations vary from one person to another and yet, how similar they are between the two sides of the conflict.
This is an insight into motivations of ten committed peace activists on both sides of the conflict at a specific moment in time.
Sergio - Programme Director, Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem
We live in a state of apartheid in the state of Israel and I believe that the only way to have a sustainable life in this piece of land is by ending apartheid and creating a democratic state where all people enjoy equal rights. I don't prefer one or two states but I support the situation of ending apartheid.
Mohammed - Director of the Arab Association for Human Rights, Nazareth, Israel
As long as I can remember I was active in different aspects of human rights and community activism. But I think the only motivation is the feeling that without our activism, not just as victims but also as equal partners of bringing a solution, this is the only way we can change. All change has to come from the community that is suffering discrimination
Morana- Activist and alternative tourist guide, Tel Aviv, Israel
My motivation is a strong inner feeling for justice and peace. Not necessarily world peace, but peace within myself, within my people, so we can all live together
Itamar - Activist and alternative tourist guide , Israel - Tel Aviv, Israel
I grew up as an Israeli Zionist and I feel today that I was brainwashed into being part of a machine in the army and especially in the second Intifada in 2002. I was part of an oppressive and deadly machine against Palestinians. I feel bad about this and I need to work in a different way. I live in a conflict that I want to finish and help to find a solution to, because I want to live here in peace and want my children to grow up here.
Suhad - Member of the 'Palestinian Medical Relief Society', Qalqilya, Palestine
Doing tours for foreigners when they come to visit Qalqilya is not a job to me, it's a kind of struggle against the apartheid wall, against the racism we suffer, to be beside my people and to explain to the foreigners what is going on on the ground.
Amjad - Director, Nablus Association for Community and Development, Nablus, Palestine
My goal is to give hope to the people in the refugee camp, especially young people and to educate them for a better future and for a better life.
Shawan - Director of Al-Haq, Ramallah, Palestine
Human Rights relate to your life, to your future, to the content of your life, in the present and in the future. For me human rights are a struggle. We want to reach the good life of the people and to respect their dignity and their future.
Rasha - Journalist and activist – Akko, Israel
I am a journalist in the field of culture and art; I believe that the culture and art scene in the '48' area (Israel) is one of the best. We have a really big production of music, theatre, cinema and photography and design, and I believe that this is the medal of the Palestinian society in '48'. Through our bands, our great directors, our singers, we tell our stories as Palestinians. The Palestinians of '48' live in ghettos, and we want to survive. To survive is to keep your identity and your stories and spread them in the world and that is what I do through culture and art. My motivation is to write about these things, to let my people know, to let the Arab world know, to let the whole world know what's really going on in terms of positive and great work despite everything, the occupation, the socio-economic situation.
Abdelfattah - Director, Al Rowwad Cultural Center, Bethlehem, Palestine
It is how to be remembered, how to feel that I am doing something that helps everybody else because I believe that everybody is a change maker. The worst nightmare that I have is that one day, my children or your children come and look me in the eyes and say: "What did you do to make a change? What heritage are you leaving us?"
Jeff - Co-founder, Israeli Committee against house demolitions, Jerusalem
I'm a child of the 60s, so I grew up at a time in history when progressiveness, human rights, justice, love, being a hippy were all in the air. So, in a sense I just continue that. I grew up in the US, I was very active in the anti-Vietnam war movements, in the civil rights movements and I came here with my eyes open, I mean I knew there was an occupation. You know I'm not a story of someone who came with rosy eyes and got disillusioned and went to the left. I came on the left, very critical, and so that's what has always motivated me, social change and politics.
This project was done during a study trip organised by the Committee for a Just Peace in the Near East, where Luxemburgish parliamentarians, journalists, teachers and citizens took part in April 2012. The portraits and answers were on public display from mid-June until mid-September 2012 in Luxemburg city centre.