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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Smuggling Democracy

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | March 18th, 2007 | Comments No Comments

I smuggled in Jimmy Carter’s book. I wasn’t sure what scrutiny I might be under coming into Israel, and I didn’t want to chance being denied entry, so I hid the book, hoping it would elude any searches. When I mentioned this to a Jew, she was politely offended and assured me the former US president’s book is available here. When I mentioned this to a Palestinian, he shook his head, marveling at the chance I took.

I haven’t yet read Mr. Carter’s book with the incendiary title “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” But, I am beginning to learn of the insidious ways Palestinians are subtly subjugated, and how ingrained this conflict is.

Friday, I observed an all-Jewish group of college students discussing a document of moderate Palestinian proposals called “The Future Vision of Arab Palestinians of Israel,” which was signed by mainstream Arab leaders and released just 3 months ago.

Through a one-way mirror, I eavesdropped on the 16 students’ reporting of their understanding of the document and of their break-out group’s negotiation process to draft principles for future Jewish and Arab relations.

“Just the fact that they read this document means they’re far above their peers,” confided Nava Sonnenschein, director of Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam’s renowned School for Peace (www.sfpeace.org).

The document requested a dedicated budget to fund Palestinian cultural and educational endeavors, such as a university and a national theater. “If we give them a budget, it will give them power,” the students grappled. “We should give (the Palestinians) power,” reported one student, “but we should control it.”

“Earlier, the students all agreed Palestinians should be treated fairly,” Sonnenschein said. But, when the discussion turned toward practical ways of making that happen, some students balked. It seemed easier to allow rights for individual Palestinians than for Palestinians as a group.

This improbable conflict highlights the School for Peace’s conflict-resolution approach of recognizing the importance of collective rights, not just individual rights. “The (students’) concern is that the Israelis will become a minority,” Sonnenschein said. “That’s why the two-state solution is preferred.”

One student concluded: “What is the higher price we pay if we continue this way? Isn’t a democratic state more important that a Jewish state?”

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