Fanatic, By Hagit Lifshitz

(Picture taken by Yafa Kfir)

Can you offer us any solution to the situation?

Do you agree that we have the right to be here?

Do you disagree?

Are you familiar with the true history of this place?

Have you any idea of how difficult it is to live here?

Have you heard about the recent terrorist attacks we have experience here?

Have you known the dear people who lost their lives here?

Do you come to teach us leftist peace making?

Questions like bombs were directed to me when I first came to meet with Jewish women in Hebron to tell them about NVC.

The atmosphere was tensed. Do I have to answer their questions to gain their trust? I wondered. I remembered to connect with their hearts. I listened, spoke and listen more to various women in the group.

I said: I guess that living here is very meaningful for you, and also very challenging.

Oh, Yeh!

And I guess also that you want me and other people realize and value your way of life?

Of course!

Are you also feeling sad for the loss of people you loved and cherished?

Yes.

The atmosphere became calmer. Women changed their posture and relaxed.

I asked: Would you be willing to tell me about your unmet needs living here?

It’s dangerous! They want to kill us all! They want us vanish, but they won’t have it! Never!

So, I understand that your need for safety is unmet. It sounds like you live in fear?

Wouldn’t you?!

Silent… I listen. After a while:

We are strong! God is our guardian. We should not fear!

So, I hear that you have faith that keeps you trust in what you do and how you live?

Yes, we have faith, of course.

And you believe that being here is your way of practicing your faith?

This is a big Mitzvah to settle all the places of the Promised Land. This is our land!

So, you also want everyone to acknowledge that you belong to this land and to the homes you live in?

True!

And you want the Arabs to acknowledge it too?

Yes! They should know it! Their spiritual leaders already know it and acknowledge that we are the chosen people and we are entitled to be here!

Silent… I listen. After a while:

If they were just willing to stop their violence!

So, you would have liked them to have peaceful relationship with you?

They understand only one language…

So, you feel worried and frustrated, because you wish they would be willing to communicate with you peacefully rather than violently?

Of course!

Silent, I keep listening. After a while I ask: Would you be willing to tell me more about your unmet needs?

You can imagine how stressful it is for our children to live like that!

So, you also feel stressed and worried because you want your children to live in a peaceful surrounding?

Yes! Our children are badly affected by this tension.

Tell me more about their lives…

You must have heard about the vandalism and violence in our schools and town. They have nowhere to go, nothing to do…

So, you wish your children had some more interest in constructive actions? You wish they’d behave differently at school?

Yeh.

Another woman says: So what is your message to us? Why have you come to us? What can you bring to us in our situation?

I said: Well, I was wondering whether you would be interested in getting to know Nonviolent Communication…

Do you find us violent?

Well, it looks like you suffer from violence…

So, do you mean that we should change something about our behavior, because we are wrong in any way?

My wish is to share with you a way that inspired me and contributed a lot to my life. You may be willing to explore it and see if it is relevant to your life somehow?

OK, let’s hear you.

I spoke about our human needs and about how we can focus on understanding, expressing, hearing and fulfilling them in harmony with others. I spoke about human feelings and needs versus accusations and judgments, and also about requests versus demands… Though they looked interested and moved, I wasn’t sure if they considered it relevant and wanted it for their political and communal life. Late at night I traveled back home, tired. Two hours later, I got a phone call from one of the women. She apologized for calling so late and said she wanted to share with me her experience urgently. I listened:

Listen,she said. I am well known in our community as one of the most extreme people. I have been framed by the Israeli security authorities as a” target”, being known as a fanatic and dangerous person for them. I have no doubt that I am a role model for many in our community, and I must tell you now, after you have left, that I have decided to learn Nonviolent Communication! You may ask how come. Well, hearing you tonight made me think: I have tried everything. Every single way using force and being as strong as I could be. Believe me, I am still strong and I’ll be forever strong. Yet, I have realized tonight that not all my true needs are yet met, that my overall human experience is not yet what I wish it was. I have decided to give it a chance and to learn what Nonviolent Communication is all about. Please come over, and teach us.

I told her how moved I felt. I promised to come over. Then she asked:

Do you believe that this process can be applicable to our Arab neighbors too? Would they be willing to learn and apply this too?

And I asked back: Would you be willing to explore that?...