Israelis and Palestinians for a Common Future

An Israeli Educator Speaks to Palestinian Graduates

Israelis and Palestinians
Preparing for a Common Future

Presented April 3, 1997 by Rafael Silver
to 100 Palestinian Management Training graduates
and **distinguished guests at Galillee College, Tivon, Israel

This land has often been called "the land of miracles."

The fact that you are here today is proof of that. The obstacles that stood in our way to have this course and bring you here to study were great. Although we were able to overcome many of the obstacles, there were still some that prevented other Palestinians from joining us. We can often see that these obstacles or barriers, from both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, are directly related to the fears, misunderstandings, and lack of knowledge that are shared by both sides.

We have a long road to travel together, and we are only at the very beginning of our journey. But one thing is certain -- it is a journey that God, who in his wisdom placed our two peoples in this one land, has determined that we take together. Some of us call him Elohim, some call him Allah, and others call him Jesus; but he is the God of all of us.

We can deny each other, we can fear each other, we can hate each other, or we can live side by side with respect for each other. We can teach each other or we can kill each other. The choice God has left in our hands and in our hands alone.

The fear, mistrust, violence and hatred that have cursed both our peoples for so long can be overcome. The effort required to do so is great but your presence here today shows that it can be done.

We must never forget the past with its tragedies on both sides, but neither should we be chained to it. History is a great teacher to build a better future as long as we learn from the mistakes and don't repeat them. We must free ourselves from our fears, our prejudices, our misunderstandings, for our children deserve the real peace that none of us in this room has really known.

Just as the young child takes his first step with no guarantee that he will not fall, so must we take our steps toward peace. If we take those steps together, with justice and equality for both sides, we can support each other in times of trouble and pick each other up when we fall.

We live in uncertain and difficult times, as we struggle to free ourselves from the past. We will certainty face great challenges to our faith in peace in the coming months, but we must remember that we are partners, we are brothers in this great trial. I turn to each of you, Israeli and Palestinian. Take back to your respective peoples this simple message: The forces of darkness and the past will not defeat us if we stand united. The rights of one people cannot come at the expense of another people, for then there will be no peace and no security for anyone.

James Baker, former Secretary of State of the United States once wrote: "Leadership properly considered is really something as simple as knowing who you are, understanding what you have to do, and doing it -- whether on the world stage, in domestic politics, in our local communities, or even in our own homes."

Everyone of us in this room is a leader, a leader in the struggle for peace in this troubled land. We must lead our governments, our politicians, our critics, and our skeptics down the road to a true and just peace. There are many obstacles in our way, some we can readily see and some that are waiting for us just around the corner. And at times we may feel a sense of desperation, hopelessness and defeat. However, if we continue to make one small step after another, more believers in peace will join us, more critics and skeptics will be proven wrong.

We must keep in mind at all times that we the people will continue to be here long after any government or politician. The misguided policies of today will find their proper place in the history books of tomorrow and will occupy scholars for years to come. But we will continue to build, and we will continue to overcome, and in the end we will lead our governments and our politicians out of the darkness.

We must remind ourselves that history is like a river -- it will continue to flow even when large obstacles are in its path. Eventually the river of life, and for life, will go over the obstacle or find a new way to go around it. And one thing is certain; the river's strength is much greater than anything in its way.

** DISTINGUISHED GUESTS at this talk included:

  The 100 graduates from courses in Health Systems Management
  Community Development and Urban Economic Planning
  Canadian Ambassador to Israel   (David Berger)
  Jordanian Counsel   (Ramez Goussous)
  First Secretary of the French Embassy   (Marc Finaud)
  Office of the Dutch Representative to the Palestinian Autonomy   (Michel Rentanaar)
  Office of the German Representative to the Palestinian Autonomy    (Martin Kobler)
  Representatives from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
RAFAEL SILVER is responsible for developing and coordinating management training programs for Palestinian professionals. Galillee College has been training senior managers, administrators and planners from the Third World since 1987, and has graduated more than 2000 individuals from the various programs.
Since its inception the College has been working with Palestinian organizations and governmental offices and to date has trained more than 500 Palestinians. Participants come from Palestinian government offices, municipalities, hospitals, voluntary organizations, universities, and UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency).
This is a private, voluntary program and is not connected to any government. Funding for programs for Palestinians comes from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNESCO, UNDP, USAID, the Government of Holland, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.
Even in tense times, the work of this program and its communication with the Palestinian organizations and people continues faithfully.
Rafael Silver, Director, International Programmes
Galillee College, Box 1070, Tivon 36000, Israel
Tel: 972-04-9837444 -- Fax: 972-04-9830227

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