Ghaida Rinawi-Zoabi

Ghaida has been working with Interpeace since 2005 on building lasting peace in Israel. As part of the Base 4 Discussion (B4D) programme, she is working to bring previously marginalized groups into the peace process. Her focus has been on the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel. Prior to her involvement with Interpeace, Ghaida was active in a variety of peacebuilding activities and was a member of the International Women’s Commission.

We caught up with Ghaida during her busy schedule and had the chance to talk about her work in Israel.

What does peace mean to you?

It’s justice on a national level. It means equal rights for all involved. Above all, peace is cooperation and freedom. Could you tell us a little more about the Future Vision project? Yes, as part of the B4D programme, Future Vision focused on reaching out to the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel. Some feel that the Oslo peace process has failed because it did not include the views and the opinions of several marginalized groups. Our objective with this project has been to ask the Palestinian Arab community of Israel what their geopolitical vision is for any future peace settlement.

What has been the hardest thing you’ve faced in your time as a peacebuilder?

I would have to say that the biggest challenge has been figuring out how to get the community to bring to the surface its varying views and craft it into a joint vision. There are so many ideas and points of view, and you don’t want to leave anyone out. Our objective is to reach out to marginalized groups, so the idea of excluding anyone is painful. We are also working very hard to initiate dialogue with opinion leaders and policy-makers. This has been very difficult but not without success. In 2007 our group met with the former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert as part of the Future Vision project.

What do you think has been the most significant realization for you during your time as a peacebuilder?

If you want to succeed in building peace, you have to include not only the key decision-makers, but also those at the local level and those who were previously marginalized. Peace must be owned by all groups throughout society, especially those who historically have had the least influence. In addition, I think it is clear now that the international community must become more proactive in its support for peace in Israel.

What are your hopes for the future?

I just want my children to be able to lead a normal life. They should be able to go to Tel Aviv or Ramallah to see friends and have a drink without being in a constant state of worry. That is what I hope for, and that is what I am working towards.