Dear Bay Area Dialogue participants,
Today, the recent opinion editorial article by Palestinian-American Elias Botto was further forwarded on the Internet via the e-mail circle of "Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice" of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. This is the Reform Movement of Judaism in the United States.
Communication through dialogue, while building and sustaining relationships, can result in the passing on of our stories to help open minds and change hearts.
If you write to Esther Lederman at UAHC, she will add you to those who receive her messages.
We thought you would want to know.
Love, Libby and Len
From: "Lederman, Esther (Social Action)" <ELederman@uahc.org>
To: "News on peace and social justice in Israel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Update #40: New Article
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 11:28:25 -0500
What's New at seekpeace.org:
Elias Botto is a retired garment manufacturer, a Palestinian originally from
Jerusalem. He is a member of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue
who lives in San Mateo, CA.
PEACE OF MIND THROUGH DIALOGUE
By Elias Botto, December 13, 2001
Originally published in The San Mateo County Times
I am a Palestinian born in Jerusalem -- a refugee from my indigenous land
since the state of Israel was created in 1948. For my Jewish cousins, that
year was a victory.
For my family and people, it was The Catastrophe -- Al Nakba. I am still
waiting for the time when I have the right to recover my family's lovely
home in Jerusalem.
Yet after 54 years of hurt and longing in diaspora, I am finally able to
recognize this: Israel is here to stay.
I hope, in turn, that Israeli citizens will acknowledge the Palestinians as
their rightful, equal neighbors as well. For this to happen, Israel must
return to my people the territory they occupied in the 1967 war.
If we are to negotiate successfully for peace, we must have the courage to
act on right principles -justice, adequate land, safety and dignity for all.
We have been negotiating since the Oslo Agreement, yet it is unclear if we
are talking about peace of mind or piece of land.
Israelis say they seek peace of mind. Yet over 140 Jewish settlements
reach from border to border on militarily occupied Palestinian land.
I believe authentic peace will be possible when we Palestinians and Jews --
governments as well as citizens -- enter into dialogue to hear each other's
narratives, our human "stories." Out of sharing our common humanity grows
the needed trust, compassion and wanting the best for each other.
When the Palestinians and Israelis see each other as equal, no longer
victim-victimizer, oppressed-oppressor or occupied-occupier, only then will
true peace be possible.
That kind of relationship, not a piece of land, is what leads to peace of
For Israel to confiscate Palestinian land in disregard for international
law and build Israeli settlements creates great stumbling blocks to the
peace process. It terrifies my people when homes are demolished, trees
uprooted, and Palestinian territories dissected, strictly for the benefit
of one people at the expense of the other.
I believe it is cruel for extremists on both sides to victimize innocent
citizens. These acts are never, ever justified.
Nor is the control of land sustained by military might instead of human
right. Military dominance prevents -stops in its tracks -the possibility
of the true peace of mind we all yearn for.
Participating in a Jewish-Palestinian dialogue for the past nine years, I
have discovered that resolving differences between two parties depends on
first listening with compassion to the narrative of the "enemy."
When I hear and accept the story of my Jewish sisters and brothers and they
hear me, that is when we become friends and are able to imagine and build
our common future.
In order to resolve this conflict, let us not continue to focus on the
symptoms, but rather the root cause -the lack of knowing each other, and
the military occupation of my wonderful people's native land.
Removing that unkind occupation will go a long way toward resolving this
deep and painful conflict.
1999-2001 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
SEEKING PEACE, PURSUING JUSTICE is the Reform Movement's campaign to
educate, encourage, and mobilize North American Jewry to support peace
efforts and social justice causes in Israel.
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