As a Palestinian, coming from a Bedouine family in Israel, Aida Shibli has had the role of bridging cultures from early age. As a peace worker, Aida has been involved with the Peace Research Village initiative, and the initiative to found GEN Middle East, for many years. By Leila Dregger
However, two years ago she started to implement the knowledge about peace building, ecological farming, permaculture, women empowerment, community building, and energy autonomy, in different places in the Westbank. With the farmer, Fayez Taneeb from Tulkarem, and his wife Mona, she found partners who are happy to provide their farm to be turned into a model farm.
Placed as it is, between the 9 meter high separation wall and an Israeli chemical factory, the farm has been destroyed three times by Israeli soldiers. As a non-violent activist against occupation, Fayez had been imprisoned and suffered many disadvantages. However, Mona encouraged him to never give up.
With Aida´s initiative and the team of the Global Campus, several education seminars took place on their farm. Students from all over the Westbank came, young men and women, to learn about permaculture, biogas, solar dryers, and other ecological techniques. For many of the young people it was the first time not sleeping at their parents´ place, meeting and getting to know international people, and about the situation of other Palestinians. It was a highly empowering time for the women, especially.
The media covered the seminars, and Fayez had to give many interviews in the TV and radio stations. After the seminars, many visitors came to see the miracle of creating self-sustainability in the middle of the occupation:
Fayez Taneeb: “From Aida and her team, I learned anew about the power of community. It is something that had been rooted deeply in our culture, but it was lost. Regaining this lost knowledge is a non-violent tool to become free from the inner occupation that we all face.”
The Taneeb Farm is on its way to becoming a symbol of people who never give up, not even in the most challenging situations, and a model and educational place for autonomy.
Aida Shibli was overwhelmed when so many people of the GEN Europe conference stood behind her, supporting her work for peace and reconciliation in the middle of a crisis: It was the first week of the new war in Israel and Gaza, – a situation in which she needed all kinds of support to not loose hope.
Aida Shibli will invest the price money to strengthen the network in Palestine – especially for reinforcing the communication and networking tools among the activists in a country where traveling is often limited.