A how-to for ending the Middle East "culture of revenge" was outlined in today's letter to the Orlando Sentinel by Palestinian Khaled Diab ( KDiab1@gmail.com ) in Florida.  You can read it at:


     Crystal-clear was Dr. Diab's prescription which he calls "PRO."
        P = Political collaboration
        R = citizen, face-to-face Relationships with Respect
        O = Opportunity for economic and cultural progress, provided by both state and citizens

     Now people can be pro-PRO and for everyone.
     Read below how pro-PRO campus youth converged to show how this new life begins.

     "Students for a Peaceful Palestinian Israeli Future" the young scholars call themselves at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
     Last Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2006, SPPIF sponsored a creative program -- CHOOSING PEACE.
     They were privileged to see a new breed of Arab and Jew who relate in new ways, refusing to be enemies.
     Two young women of excellence, Israeli Eliana Avitzour and Palestinian Lama Tarayrah ( OceanDream225@yahoo.com ) told their stories with emotion and listened with huge respect in front of  the overflow crowd.
     Elianar and Lama have each had life-changing experiences in the Rocky Mountain summer programs of Building Bridges for Peace, described at:


     Almost 150 students packed the room, pleasantly surprising the student organizers.
     "We expected at least 50," said Aviva Joffe ( ASJoffe@wustl.edu ), acting president of SPPIF. "We were shocked that so many came, and we had to start adding more benches. . ."
     Students heard Lama and Elianar speak about their experiences of growing up on opposite sides of Jerusalem and living through the violence of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
     And how they came to know one another.
     How they changed.
     How they help others change.

     Read the story and see their photos.
     See how a campus war -- any war -- begins to end.

Published in Student Life -- Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri) -- Friday, 10 February 2006

Dialogue sheds light on an unlikely friendship
Talk between two women from warring factions brings in a standing room-only crowd
By Marla Friedman
     Almost 150 students packed into Northwest Wohl on Tuesday when Washington University's "Students for a Peaceful Palestinian Israeli Future" hosted a dialogue between two women, one Israeli and one Palestinian.
     Although Students for a Peaceful Palestinian Israeli Future (SPPIF) had expected a fairly large turnout, not having enough seating for the 140 people who attended was a pleasant surprise.
     "We expected at least 50," said Aviva Joffe ( ASJoffe@wustl.edu ), acting president of SPPIF. "We were shocked that so many came, and we had to start adding more benches in the backwe had originally requested Ursa's Fireside and didn't get it, and, actually, it would have been too small."
     During the dialogue, Palestinian Lama Tarayrah ( OceanDream225@yahoo.com ) and Israeli Eliana Avitzour spoke about their lives in the midst of an ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     The event embodied the original goals of (SPPIF) when the group was begun last spring.
     "We wanted to promote inclusive dialogue between different sides of the conficlt [between Israelis and Palestinans]," said Aviva Joffe, acting president of SPPIF. "Often people avoid hard questions, and we wanted to face those and have more common ground between people with different views and to broaden people's perspectives."
     Tarayrah and Avitzour had attended a two-week session at a summer camp called Building Bridges for Peace, where Israeli, Palestinian and American girls join together for peace-building activities. Although their societies define them as enemies, Avitzour and Tarayrah have become best friends. Every summer, they said, the girls are able to bond at camp and discover a hope for the future.
     It was while working at this camp last summer that Joffe got the idea for the event. Tarayrah and Avitzour, who had attended the camp as teenagers, were now working as Joffe's co-counselors.
     "I knew [Tarayrah and Avitzour] would be in the states in February, so I decided to see if they could come to Wash. U.," said Joffe. "So the program came into being because I worked at this camp, and I wanted them to speak about their lives.
     Tarayrah began the dialogue by reflecting on her life as a Palestinian from Eastern Jerusalem. She was born in the winter of 1986 and grew up with long curfews, constant blasts of deafening gunshots and the smell of choking tear gas. Political debate surrounded her every action.
     "Everything was about what we should do better to cause [the Israelis] more pain than they have caused us," said Tarayrah.
     Despite the fact that a solution seemed far away, her involvement in the camp has changed her life. One event in particular helped her realize how crucial the camp would be for her new path in life. At the end of her first summer, she partnered with an Israeli girl, and they were instructed to touch each others' hearts.
     "I felt like she was becoming part of me and I was becoming part of her. We both discovered we were more similar than we ever thought. I don't want to hate anymore, I just want to live," said Tarayrah.
     Avitzour picked up the discussion by speaking just as openly about her life as an Israeli in Jerusalem. She grew up with a distinct fear of Arabs and would cross the street and walk faster upon seeing them. Avitzour, likewise, explained how attending the camp was a life-altering experience.
     "I realized that I didn't know everything about the world. I wanted to start acting for peace and stayed involved with the program," said Avitzour.
     Avitzour chose not to join the army, an act that disappointed many of her friends and family. Instead, she is now involved with national service. She often second-guesses her choice not to join the army, but the recurring terrorist attacks in Israel reassure her that she made the right decision.
     "I don't know what's right a lot of times, but for me I know that this is right," said Avitzour.
     The audience was warmly receptive to the women and participated actively in the question-and-answer session that concluded the event. The recent Palestinian election and Hamas' victory were quickly raised, and Tarayrah presented a unique view to the University's students.
     "Palestinians have not had the chance to exist as a nation," said Tarayrah. They have always been under Fatah. This was the only way for it to change, and at least it was a change."
     The elections have only served to increase hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians, yet Tarayrah and Avitzour remain close friends and are able to communicate their distinct opinions. As is said at the camp, Their summers have helped them understand a phrase often spoken at the camp: "If you want to try life, you have to try it from all sides."