Five days ago, a special room started on the audio social media app Clubhouse.
It started five days ago and has been staying open for hours and hours on end.
But that's not why it's special, plenty of rooms on Clubhouse stay open for days.
No, this room is special because it is hosting a conversation with Palestinians and Israelis, in the midst of the most amount of violence the two groups of people have seen in years. The dialogue is moderated with much grace and sensitivity, is encouraging listening and practicing empathy rather than getting caught in feuds and arguments and it empathizes balance as well as the use of language that is not polarizing in nature.
I have been coming in and out of the room for the last five days, and have been in awe of the stellar moderating skills around such a difficult topic and such intense emotions, and have listened to hours and hours of personal stories; the fearful mother in Gaza, the hopeful Palestinian in the west bank, the Israeli woman who lost her friend to a bombing. So many stories from so many people from different and yet such similar places . I've cried to them, I've laughed with them. I spoke from my own experience growing up in the mixed community of the old city of Jerusalem, and I've offered validation to some voices that needed to hear it. I heard perspectives I never thought of, from Israelis and Palestinians alike, and history I didn't know of, and I got to understand my own identity better.
One constant cry I've heard from various voices or in the silences between the words - is the cry of the oppressed. The oppressed who simply want to stand on their own two feet, with dignity, with humanity, in autonomy, in peace. As a Jew, oppression as a theme runs through my veins from my ancestry. Fear from hate and oppression is a constant 'back of the mind' notion to a Jew in the diaspora like me - so hearing the outcry of the oppressed that my home town of Israel has been oppressing - is absolutely heart breaking.
Over 150,000 people have come in to this room since its inception, (with some occasional extreme voices that are usually elegantly cooled down by the moderators, and one or two trolls...), and the conversations have touched on solutions and shared visions for the Palestinians and Israelis.
It has been challenging to be in that sacred space of dialogue, and it has been inspirational and up lifting. It has been giving me hope for a future in the region. A peaceful future. If politicians would handle peace talks as well as how these moderators hold space to so many traumatized people - we would have peace in the middle east in no time.
You may call me a peace-loving idealist, but thanks to this room I learned that I am not the only one.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman