It was probably the best Saturday night I spent for years (not for the reasons one might assume!).
We first gathered in a small and humble restaurant in downtown Le Havre (north-western France). About thirty (maybe less) people showed up. I first thought: that’s not a good start… it seemed first that people had snubbed the gathering. The meeting was never meant to be pompous or formal in any way. It was organized by a handful number of Arab students based in the region who invited anybody interested in debating or just chatting about the Palestinian plight. We were not numerous, but what a breath of fresh air! I soon discovered the quality of people I was honoured to meet.
In the cold tempered Europe, and the individualistic Western societies within which we have the chance to live, often people don’t know each other, interact very rarely and know scarcely anything about each other’s political opinions. This meeting was a wonderful opportunity for me to find out how much empathy and sympathy for the Palestinian cause was out there. We talked about different issues ranging from the occupation to the (so-called) peace process. We debated the issue of anti-Zionism vs. anti-Semitism, the question of one-State vs. two-States solution.
The debate went on for the rest of the evening. Sometimes with passion, but with very little basic disagreement. The whole thing finished in a good and enthusiastic mood.
People who prompted the gathering never pretended to change the world but they certainly and positively changed mine -and I believe many others’- that evening.
I couldn’t ever thank the organizers enough for the initiative and I’m already eager for the next one.