The power of writing

I used to make myself ill with rage. I didn’t and still don’t agree with the establishment of a Jewish state and I especially object to Israelis claiming to speak in my name. By focussing on stories of injustice, inhumanity and violence, I became irritable, tormented and self-righteous. In 2004, after years of outraged activism, I was in danger of slipping into apathy and powerlessness as anger overwhelmed me.

My salvation came from a Compassionate Listening delegation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. This organisation provides an opportunity for Americans to hear the stories of people from a range of perspectives and experiences while learning the skills of non-judgemental listening. For me, it was a wild ride on the roller coaster of emotions, as we made heart to heart connections with our hosts, the other delegates and ourselves. It was a powerful experience, transporting me to a state of grace I hadn’t expected.

I came home eager to share what I’d gained with people in my community and I have been blessed with opportunities to do this. As well as the dialogue groups and Radio Salaam Shalom, I’ve also written a novel.

The novel is called Checkpoint. Set in 2002 at a checkpoint, the novel starts with the death of two teenagers, a soldier and a suicide bomber. It shows how their families suffer and their two communities remain divided, that is, until the two mothers refuse to be enemies. Writing this novel helped me understand people’s motivations and to develop empathy for all sides. Checkpoint is about the possibility of redemption, about a common humanity, the illusion of being on opposite sides and the need to stop the cycle of fear and violence. I believe that a just peace is possible for all in the Middle East. The message is one of hope and I’d like it to reach a wide audience. More information about Checkpoint is at www.redroom.com/author/lisa-saffron

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