The Wadi has Two Banks leads the reader through the waystations of Riad Kamel Kabaha’s voyage through life. Kabaha is an Arab Palestinian who was born in the State of Israel, in the divided village of Bartaa in the heart of Wadi Ara. He grew up to become a prominent social activist, an educational leader and leading public figure. Kabaha was a civics teacher, Mukhtar of the village, then head of the local council. For more than four decades, Kabaha has worked in the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace in Givat Haviva, and dedicates his life to promoting understanding and reconciliation between the nations. Through the story of his life, we become acquainted with the annals of the large Kabaha family, including about forty thousand people. We also become familiar with the unusual story of the Bartaa village, dissected in the middle by a palpable-imaginary border between Israel and Jordan in 1949, ostensibly erased in 1967. Today, the village is split between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
To a great extent, The Wadi has Two Banks is also the story of an entire generation of Palestinian Israelis who were born in the State of Israel after the Nakba and grew to adulthood in the shadow of a military government and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with all its complexities and suffering. These people live within two distinct identities – Palestinian nationality and Israeli citizenship – and cope with the immense inherent contradictions on a daily basis. This is also the story of civil society organizations that work tirelessly to create an atmosphere of trust and partnership between Israelis and Palestinians in spite of the conflict, organizations that have their successes and their failures.
“I believe that this land is our joint homeland and that we must find a way to live in it together, in true partnership and full equality,” summarizes Kabaha. Then he presents his vision for a future of peace and equality between two states for two nations.
Riad Kamel Kabaha, born in 1953, Bartaa. Graduate of Tel Aviv University, teacher and educator, Mukhtar, head of the Basma Council (2005-2009) and director of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace in Givat Haviva.