Being a Yala’er: Being a Zionist? by Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

I’ve been trying for a while to figure out what I’m going to write next for Yala Café.

I just kept waiting for the right moment to write about something personal and interesting.

Three days ago, I was at the university waiting to attend a conference about the administrative court in Tunisia. imageTwo friends of mine whom I come to know very recently came by my side and started shouting at me at once: “We can’t believe you joined Yala!!!” They were so disappointed. They happen to think that I am a ferocious supporter of the Palestinian cause and couldn’t find an excuse for me joining Yala. They just kept saying: “Unbelievable!”

They found Yala via an advertisement on Facebook and got in and discovered the page because they saw my name near Like. I guess they were terrified with all the Hebrew status and the huge Israeli presence. They told me that I really have to be careful. One of them assumed that this kind of pages is meant to make up Israel’s image in front of the international society, that all the peace talk is pure nonsense. The other presumed that Yala is doing a great brainwashing work and is targeting utopist left-winged Arab peace believers as myself. As a matter of fact, they reminded me of my brief meeting with an Israeli-Palestinian guy at a workshop for peace about a month ago who told me exactly the same thing. He concluded with: “Yala is clearly more biased towards Israel than towards Palestine.”


I guess those persons never thought that I had deep talk with myself before joining the community. It may be the same thing for many Arab young people. We don’t want to be treated as traitors of the cause. This is practically the case were hitting Like is all about tolerance. I know that being a Tunisian is in very ways easier than being a Palestinian. I am not born in war but this doesn’t mean that I don’t know what is like. So, when I see Palestinian youth who are ready to forget and overcome the atrocities of the past, ongoing and future armed conflicts, I understand that peace is equal to life and that those people are no longer ready for destruction and killing for “sands and stones”.

Yala is a wide non-governmental community. We sure are different people who support peace in MENA. In my case, being for peace is not being for Zionism. I can’t talk on behalf of the Israeli yala’ers but the few ones I came to know closely do not approve their “right-winged-settlement-crazy” government policy. Many of them didn’t choose to be in this conflict. They are just born in it and would do anything to end it. People who make war don’t know how it’s really like. They make plans using plastic toys behind high desks and giant screens. They can control and manipulate people whose ancestors suffered from anti Semitism but only the soldier once on the battle field knows how ugly it is. Because he is the one who has orders to hurt, kill and destroy. Because he is a number when he fights and he is only a number when he dies. War is a game of numbers. No humans included…

We are talking about young leaders who refuse to die as a number, who refuse to kill and to hurt and who want their countries to live and prosper. I am one of those young people. I may not be a leader but I joined this community as a simple person who seeks tolerance and understanding. I am not a nationalist; I don’t justify wars for land because in war we lose the two things we can never buy back; humans and humanity. Isn’t that enough loss?

I don’t justify war because I believe that nothing is worth killing another human soul. This is what makes me a yala’er. I just don’t hate people only because they were born in an occupying country. Not all people are responsible of their country’s history or their government’s policy. I don’t refuse them unless they point directly or indirectly a gun at a Palestinian civilian. Otherwise I am ready to debate and exchange point of views. Let’s not forget that conflicts are based on ideas. Why not discuss point of views? Isn’t worth it?

This is almost all what my respond included. I made my point clear. Yala doesn’t force you to embrace Zionism. You can be who you are. Nobody can change you. You choose to be part of the project because you want to.

Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

YaLa Young Leaders

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