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Palestinian and Jewish Idahoans stand and march together. Peace will require justice | Opinion

One of the biggest hurdles to talking about Israel and Palestine is where to start the conversation. Well, our story actually begins in the days after September 11, 2001, when Nathaniel, a young reporter, met Aisha’s father, Asad, a long-haul trucker. They talked about the tragedy of 9/11, the fear in the Muslim community even in places as far from New York as Boise, their respective time in Jerusalem and the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

Today, this may seem a remarkable encounter — a Jew and a Palestinian having an intimate conversation in Boise in the wake of the biggest attack on U.S. soil in generations. But it’s not. It’s where everything starts.

In September, we lost Asad after his truck ran off the road in southern Utah. And then in October, militants from Gaza breached the security fence around the Gaza Strip and murdered over 1,000 Israelis. Israel has retaliated by bombing Gaza to oblivion, murdering over 13,000 Palestinians, razing entire city blocks and displacing over a million Gazans.

Yet, our first instinct was to sit down for coffee together at Flying M and talk.

We talked about Asad and his remarkable journey from a Palestinian village near Jerusalem, to the U.S. where he eventually settled in Boise and raised his family, after a sojourn in Brazil. We talked about Aisha’s recent summer visit to Shu’afat, where her family is from, about my family’s connection to a neighboring Jewish sector in Jerusalem, and about what it means to watch this latest explosion of violence in a place we both know and love.

And we are here to tell you: It means something very different precisely because we know each other. We acknowledge each other’s humanity, each other’s history and our whole selves.

And this is what we know: For Israelis, and for Jewish people all over the world, including in Boise, the Hamas attack was shocking and terrifying. Many Jewish people are just one or two degrees separated from someone killed or kidnapped on Oct. 7.

For Palestinians — the 2 million trapped in Gaza, and the 3 million across the West Bankviolence and the daily humiliations of occupation, are commonplace. Palestinians grow up under military occupation and have for multiple generations. Every Palestinian is one or two degrees away from someone killed, imprisoned, detained, questioned, dispossessed of their land and robbed of their humanity.

Which brings us back to the question of where to begin.

We have marched together three times now — a Jewish American and a Palestinian American — calling for a ceasefire, which means an immediate, permanent stop to the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza and, of course, a stop to Hamas attacks on Israel as well. We are calling for a massive humanitarian mission to Gaza. And, importantly, we are both calling for an end to Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for Palestinians to be free, yes, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

These demands are the only way to increase safety and freedom for both Palestinians and Jews, all over the world, including in Israel. Our struggle to protect our fragile democracy here in the United States and to fight the twin evils of Islamophobia and antisemitism is directly parallel to our hopes for that rocky patch of land between the river and the sea.

Jewish safety and liberty is directly tied to Palestinian safety and freedom. When we stand together, there are not two sides to this conflict. There are just people, yearning to be free. Stand with us.

Aisha Kayed and Nathaniel Hoffman co-founded Boise To Palestine ( BoiseToPal on Instagram ) in 2021.