Doris Bittar (DBittar@ucsd.edu) is
a Lebanese-Palestinian woman and co-convenor of Jewish-Palestinian dialogue in
San Deigo, California.
Below, Doris she reflects on September 11, 2001 and on personal experiences of surprisingly growing dialogue where she lives and far beyond.
Doris and other Palestinian and Jewish San Diegans demonstrate what Henry David Thoreau wrote in "Walden":
"Things do not change; we change."
Tonic for What Ails and Wishes for a Better New Year: Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue
On the dreary and frightening night
of September 11 our San Diego Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue group
met. We drove on desolate freeways and streets to find something that
made sense in each others' company. At the meeting there was comfort, an
insightful speech by the rabbi on "good and evil" and eventually a
discussion on terrorism vs. freedom fighting. After the meeting we were
still in shock, still sad and depressed - and like the rest of the country we
still are mourning - but we were not and are not alienated.
On October 29, the sixth anniversary of Yitzakh Rabin's assassination another dialogue group met. That rabbi expressed the thought that she would not have wanted to be anywhere but with Palestinians and Jews on that night. We all agreed.
A Palestinian woman who will participate in a new dialogue group that will commence this New Year, told me that she was curious about dialogue because a close friend told her that it helps get rid of the bitterness. She is very interested in ridding herself of an almost palatable bitter taste in her mouth. I assured her that at the very least it would help in that regard. She has convinced another friend to join her, too.
We feel at odds with what is happening back in Israel/Palestine whose cues suggest an entrenched and bitter stance. We have intuitively followed another path. September 11 made us want to meet more with each other rather than less and at least two new groups have formed since then.
The growing San Diego Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue movement is part of a broad national trend. In San Diego County this trend began less than a year ago and there are now about six groups and a seventh forming. We hope that these interactions continue, strengthen and become resonant enough to cue those in Israel/Palestine to embrace dialogue as a tonic against bitterness and hate.
Doris Bittar is on the Web at: http://visarts.ucsd.edu/~dbittar and can be reached by e-mail at DBittar@ucsd.edu