It may not be taken up by the leader writers and columnists of the Corriere della Sera, but what happened at Wallaje last Saturday, October 17th, 2009, restored, in a very real way, the role and commitment of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence in the territories through which it is moving. A nucleus of groups and popular Palestinian associations, which had initially been opposed to the event in celebration of the March at Wallaje, a village lying in Palestinian territory, to which Israeli representatives were invited, opened a dialogue with - and their own homes to - the March delegation, recognising its role as an ambassador of peace, thanks to important mediation work.
On Friday, October 16th, the World March delegation, which is engaged on the Middle East leg, had organised an event to celebrate the March, embracing Israelis, Palestinians and representatives of local associations. However, in the afternoon, a few hours before the event, a fax arrived in which the spokesman for a number of groups and popular Palestinian associations make their opposition known. The news sowed tension among the March delegates, who feared for the safety of the dozens of people brought together for what was to have been a moment of celebration and communal reflection. At that point, in such a short time, notification that the event had been cancelled would not have reached all those who had heard the announcement of the event, in some cases second hand. The misunderstanding on the part of the Palestinians probably arose because of a lack of information about the role and activities of the March delegation, which also includes a number of Israeli representatives, causing some of the popular Palestinian representatives to think that the delegation might be a group allied to Israelis planning to seize their land. To live in these territories means dealing daily with questions of this nature, nerves are frayed and any new movement can be seen as a menace.
Thanks to Luisa Morgantini, former vice president of the European Parliament, Ali Abu Awwad, the leader of the pacifist movement, “Al tariq,” and spokesman of the “Combatants for Peace” Association, and Barbara Cupisti, an Italian director who is profoundly knowledgeable about these territories and the dynamics that rule them, opened a channel of dialogue with these groups which, initially, agreed to the celebrations on the condition that they excluded the Israelis. Faced with a refusal by the March delegation to a partial participation that excluded the Israeli representatives, the Palestinian groups mellowed and saw the value of an event celebrating the arrival of the World March delegation in Palestine. From that moment, dialogue began between the delegates, the Israelis and the Palestinians. The latter welcomed the March delegation into their own homes, after they had explained their position and apologised for misunderstanding because to a lack of information, as well as for excessive protectiveness towards their land and families. The outcome at Wallaje is an example of the message and the undertaking of the March; restarting dialogue where, by custom or out of fear, dialogue and collaboration have been broken off. The scheduled event was celebrated and ended with the signing up of the inhabitants of Wallaje to the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, with the promise to organise a new event in the weeks to come which will involve the Israelis and Palestinians present.