Jewish - Palestinian Compassionate Listening

How One Woman's Life Changed

     In January, 1998, Heena Reiter went to Israel/Palestine on a "Compassionate Listening" trip led by Leah Green of Mid-East Citizen Diplomacy.
     Since then, Heena and her husband, Steve, with other Arabs and Jews, have begun a successful Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group in Charlottesville, Virginia.
     Heena writes about all the ways her life changed after hearing the "stories" of Palestinians and Israelis.

Before the Compassionate Listening Project, I:
1.   only minimally understood the Middle East situation;
2.   was very afraid of even the word, 'Palestinian,' much less the people;
3.   believed listening could theoretically be a tool for understanding and peacebuilding, though didn't
      understand how;
4.   was unaware of the extent of citizen-level peacebuilding activities;
5.   was afraid to speak during discussions about the Middle East;
6.   did not know the extent of the suffering of the Palestinian people, nor the level of fear and anxiety
      of the Israelis.

After the Compassionate Listening Project, I have:
1.   striven to become a more conscious listener in all areas of my life;
2.   become a supporter of effective listening in my synagogue community, and have helped others to
      become aware of the positive effects of conscious listening, especially in group settings;
3.   formed a local Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group in my community which has met monthly
      since June, 1998;
4.   received appreciation and inquiries following the publication of an article in my local community
      newspaper regarding the CLP;
5.   become a more educated follower of the Middle East conflict and peace process;
6.   sent e-mails to officials in the US and Israel supporting peace efforts and opposing house
      demolitions of Palestinian families;
7.   developed an experience-based appreciation for personal contact across cultural, religious and
      racial barriers to reduce fear, ignorance and hatred;
8.   become more confident and clear that private citizens can and do have an influence on the larger
      political process;
9.   discovered that LISTENING is one of my 'callings';
10. developed connections with others involved in Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, and am in regular
      e-mail contact, receiving ongoing news about peacebuilding and J-P cooperative activities;
11. made public presentations on 3 occasions, and now speak readily about my experiences,
      observations and thoughts about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict;
12. begun to believe, that despite appearances, peace will prevail;
13. become friendly with some Palestinian families, have been to each others' homes, and have come
      to appreciate and enjoy them, as the long-lost relatives I had thought they were.

To communicate with the Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group in Charlottesville, VA, Heena Reiter receives e-mail at

For information about the Compassionate Listening Project of Mid-East Citizen Diplomacy, send e-mail to Leah Green at

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