Israeli and Palestinian Activists Ask Americans to Take Side of Peace

It’s a message that has not been prominently heard or seen in many American protests and rallies. Most events have taken place under an Israeli or Palestinian flag, focusing on one people’s pain, struggle or victimhood.

That type of narrow approach can erase everything around it, said Cara Raich, a conflict adviser based in New York.

“As with most conflicts one feels deeply and personally, a binary choice often offers the simple comfort of pro and con, or right and wrong,” she said. “The magnetic power of false binaries sucks everything that it touches into that paradigm.”

For that reason, the conversations Mr. Green and Ms. Abed came to have with Americans have, at least for their audiences they draw, been something of a spiritual salve. In dozens of talks up and down the East Coast, the two activists have described a desperate need for new Israeli and Palestinian leadership, including leaders willing to work together.

They have called Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, both “the enemy of the Palestinian people” and a “fertilizer for radical Jewish extremism.” And they have voiced a frustration over what they see as a war for the moral high ground, happening outside of Israel and mostly over social media, that denies their experiences.

Libby Lenkinski, a vice president at the New Israel Fund, an organization that funds and supports Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, has had a front-row seat as a moderator. She said she has seen a “palpable sense of relief” among attendees who audibly exhale or place hands over their hearts. The message is so resonant, she said, because of it offers a different kind of simplicity than choosing one of two sides.

“This isn’t, ‘Kumbaya, let’s all hold hands and love each other,’” Ms. Lenkinski said. “It’s: ‘There’s actually no way that one side is going to win. Our futures are intertwined and the only way that we can keep ourselves alive is by keeping each other alive.’”