The People of the Journey – June-July 2010


Josh Stieber is an Iraq War Veteran who has recently been speaking to international media about his former company’s role in the “collateral murder” tape.  Josh co-authored the letter of reconciliation that followed:


Conor Curran completed two tours in Iraq as a Marine. His compelling story of transformation has been heard all across the country as he bicycled across the country last year on a speaking tour with Josh Stieber.


Salam Talib is a journalist and computer engineer from Iraq and has also been active in designing databases for numerous NGOs which work with disabled Iraqis.Salam


Salma Shawa is a 13-year-old student at Gaza’s American International School. On Jan. 2, 2009, an Israeli air strike destroyed most of the buildings on the campus of the AIS — the only co-educational school in the Strip — and killed the night watchman. Salma was among the students interviewed by the international media that flooded the Strip following the Israeli invasion. Today, Salma is still attending AIS, but in smaller, more crowded temporary quarters, and one of the features that helped make the school a special place — an international faculty — is no more. Still, she has an unquenchable optimism for the future: “I want to build Gaza to be the best place in the world. I want to work as a buisnesswoman, to own and run my own companies so that I can make money and use it to help Gaza! I will build homes for all the poor, and each single person in Gaza will have work. If I win the people’s hearts this way, someday I want to be elected president of Palestine!”


Laila Samahadana, 12, attended the American International School with Salma until Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2006 and her family (including a father who was a Fatah commander and an uncle — a well-known resistance leader — who was assassinated by the Israeli military) was forced to flee to Cairo. However, despite the internal political split — and now, the geographic distance — she and Salma have remained close friends and are united in their desire for peace and a free, independent Palestine, under one flag.