By Amelia Lee with Emily Grossman

Members of the Totnes Jewish Community

Like many people, I feel heartbroken and horrified by the devastating events in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank in these last months.

Jewish and Muslim communities worldwide have been deeply impacted.

There has been an unprecedented rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

At such a terrible time, it is hard to know what to do.

As a Jewish peace activist, hearing about joint Palestinian/Israeli initiatives working for peace and change gives me hope. There are 160 groups on the “Alliance for Middle East Peace” website alone.

I’m part of the movement, “Standing Together”, who, with “Women Wage Peace’’, are organising ceasefire marches in Israel. I follow “Combatants for Peace” and “The Parents Circle” – bringing bereaved Israelis and Palestinians together.

I also follow “A Land for All”, which puts forward a revised two-state vision based on partnership rather than separation with equal input from Palestinians and Israelis.

Also in England, the initiative “Together For Humanity” calls for ceasefire and against Islamophobia and antisemitism. Activists in these groups call for solidarity and for compassion and peace for all.

They point out that sometimes people confuse taking a strong stance against violence and oppression with siding against one group or another and this can fuel the conflict and divide the peace movement, making it less effective. These are Palestinians and Israelis standing together to fight for a ceasefire, the return of hostages and the end of Israeli control and occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. They are urging leaders to commit to a diligent, solution-focused and internationally-facilitated peace process.

If people who have lost loved ones in the last months can stand together to call for peace, then so can we. I believe that these grassroots initiatives are best positioned to influence their societies towards lasting peace, yet we rarely get to hear about them.

So since October I’ve been promoting their work and encouraging people to support them, which I believe is one of the most effective things we can do.

A few of us have set up a local peace initiative and Facebook Page “Supporting Peace in Palestine and Israel”, to promote such groups as well as local initiatives and other positive actions we can take. I think it’s vital to keep taking action for change.

Anyone who wants to make a difference can also simply reach out to Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, or Arab friends.