Struggling with Peace Speaker Spotlight: Rutie Atsmon

In the lead up to our two-day symposium, Struggling with Peace: Grounding peace work in action and change in Israel and Palestine, we will be introducing you to our esteemed guests, prominent peace builders from Palestine and Israel.

It is our pleasure to introduce to you, Rutie Atsmon.

It is important for me to come to Vancouver because I sense the true desire of the youth organizing this conference to learn about the meaningful work that can and is being done toward a just peace; work that takes into consideration the difficult reality of ongoing occupation and widespread hopelessness for change. Practitioners in our field will benefit from introspection and reflection, and be challenged to change commonly used approaches and methodologies that do not meet the real needs on the ground. Such a conference give us an opportunity to do so, and share lessons learned with the Peace it Together youth.

- Rutie Atsmon

Rutie was born and raised in a farming community in a small village, Avigedor, in the south of Israel. She was expelled from school at the age of 15 for asking too many challenging questions. As a result, Rutie embraced the non-formal education sector and through extensive reading, volunteering with street gangs, experiencing various art forms, and acting as a guide in a youth movement, Rutie's understanding of non-formal educational methodologies increased. For her compulsory military service, she served as a secretary in the military government's Civil Administration in Sinai, an eye-opening experience about the reality of occupation and the psycho-social complexities that lead to its continuation.

Through her work with young women in distress, youth in kibbutz communities, and other non-formal frameworks, Rutie gained insight as to the different issues faced by youth in various contexts, and her sense that she could and should take action solidified. With other like-minded individuals, Rutie worked to establish Windows: Channels for Communication in 1990-91, as a joint Palestinian-Israeli NGO, in order to focus on raising awareness as to the realities of occupation and discrimination, as well as to promote human rights for all.

Since then, Rutie has served in Windows as the Director, Co-Director, Co-editor of the Hebrew-Arabic magazine, Co-Director of educational programs, facilitator and trainer, playing a role in the development of Windows' unique conflict resolution tools.

Rutie lives in Tel Aviv and is the mother of two. She remains active in various political and social direct action initiatives toward change.