New York, February 21, 2011—Dana Sender, 27, served in the Israeli army as a social worker. Caring for the welfare of soldiers in her unit made her especially close to them. During her service, she attended eight funerals; she had yet to turn 20 at the time.
From childhood, Dana was exposed to the conflict. “The ‘90s were difficult times in Israel, with suicide bombs going off, one after the other, killing and injuring innocent people,” she said. “The images we saw as children, both in the streets and in the media, were only of the Israeli perspective of suffering and pain."
In late 2001, when Dana began her military service, Israeli-Palestinian violent confrontations had intensified, with many casualties. The tension was palpable.
By March 2002, she’d become very close with the soldiers in her unit, particularly Kobi, who was only two years older than her. He’d nearly completed Israel’s compulsory military service with a mere couple of weeks before his discharge. While running a routine patrol at night with two other soldiers near the West Bank city of Hebron, they were ambushed and killed.
Dana woke up the following day to learn that members of her unit were attacked. Kobi was dead. The eight years in between diminished none of Dana’s vividness of that day.
“At the time, I couldn't see the Palestinian perspective because I was caught up in my own pain and frustration,” said Dana. “As I matured and tried to understand the broader situation, I developed a more critical point of view and allowed myself to have a much deeper understanding of the Palestinian perspective. I found out this reality was abnormal and not the one I wanted. It became apparent to me that I should take personal responsibility in shaping the future."
Dana joined OneVoice Israel’s staff last year as the Youth Leadership Program director.
“I realized that if I love my country and want what’s best for it, I need to work on the larger issue affecting every aspect of our lives—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Dana. “That understanding changed my focus and utilized a great deal of my energy in promoting a two-state solution—one that will be just for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Her attraction to OneVoice lay in the movement’s respect for two narratives, its recognition that both sides suffer, and its belief that each side should work to end the conflict for the sake of their own national aspirations.
“I felt OneVoice was the one movement that represented me and the vast majority of Israelis that strive for political change, while still maintain their love and loyalty to their country,” said Dana. “I was thrilled to learn we had a Palestinian partner working for the same goal on the other side within a national Palestinian perspective, one which I have grown to respect and accept.”