Yousef Bashir is a Palestinian who grew up in the Gaza Strip, near the Israeli settlement of Kfar Darom. Growing up it was not uncommon for Yousef to hear and see crossfire each evening. When he was 11 years old his family’s land was seized by the Israeli army and the family was relegated to the living room while the army took over the remaining rooms. His father, who believed in peace and coexistence, refused to leave the family home and ultimately the Israeli army would come to occupy their home for 5 years.
In 2004, during a visit with United Nations officials, Yousef was shot in the back by an Israeli officer while in his front yard. He was rushed to a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he was treated by an Israeli doctor. Due to his injuries, he spent four months in the hospital and then one year in rehab.
That incident was a life changing experience for him. To be treated and have his life saved by people whom he knew only as people with guns just a few weeks earlier taught him there is an opportunity for coexistence. He has dedicated his life to bridging the divide between Palestinians and Israelis. Yousef received a master’s degree in Conflict and Coexistence at Brandeis University. He deliberately sought out a Jewish university.
Today, he is an intern in Congressman Gerry Connolly’s office assisting on foreign policy issues. Connolly is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and sits on the Middle East subcommittee. In addition to his internship, Yousef has brought his story to AIPAC & J-Street.