The Dead Sea, Feb 2020

In the last days before COVID-19 put the world on hold (February and March of 2020), I had the honor of being in Jordan, right by the Dead Sea, co-facilitating a humanitarian leadership seminar for those working in conflict and post-conflict settings across the globe. As the news about the pandemic and potential lockdown had been increasing throughout the workshop, being the experienced humanitarian leaders that they were, some of the participants began to construct ‘what if’ scenarios. I remeber clearly a deep and forward-thinking conversation about the potential unintended consequences of COVID on the vulnerable populations of all continents…

This is Part Four of a four part series. For Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here. For Part Three, click here

Reflections and Moving Forward

What, then, have I learned? First, to have an impact, I need to have deep integrity and an authentic curiosity when working with communities that are not my culture of origin. I must dare to imagine what we want to accomplish, to think about the collective, to see other people around me, to try to understand their needs and their feelings. Second, since change comes from the inside out, I must use…

This is Part Three of a four part series. For Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here.

Part Three: Breaking the Enemy Images

May 2010, Jenin refugee camps

May 2010, Jenin

By this time, I lived in New York, but I returned to the West Bank frequently. I had become a cultural guide for Dual Narrative tours, which allowed tourists to visit Israeli and Palestinian sights and to have a more expansive prospect for those searching for a broader perspectives on what life is like in the region. Having met several Palestinians and having had deep conversations about their perspectives and lived experience, I had now, through these tours…

This is part two of four parts series for Part One, click here.

Part Two: My Extremist Teen Years

2021, June 15th, East Jerusalem

Earlier this week, a friend sent me a disturbing link to a (now widely shared) video of a large crowd in Jerusalem chanting: “Death to the Arabs.” Immediately, I was struck by the overwhelming amount of young people participating and wondered how it was possible for kids so young to have such a cemented hatred towards others — their own neighbors in fact…

Then just as immediately, I remembered that I used to be exactly like them. The boys in the video…


May 2021, New York City

I am sitting on the floor of my East Harlem apartment with my three-year-old daughter. She is smiling at me, hugging me and making me one of those delicious ice cream bowls out of Lego toys. My eyes are red, I can’t stop my tears. I am not present, I am in a fog of war. I am thinking about my daughter’s peers in Gaza and across Israel and Palestine, thinking how their lives and the lives of their families will be forever impacted by what is happening.

My mind went to that helpless night…

Kobi Skolnick

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