"There are some things that only governments can do such as negotiating binding agreements. But there are some things that only citizens outside government can do such as changing human relationships."
                                 -- Dr. Harold Saunders, Former Assistant Secretary of State, Negotiator of Camp David Accords

420 Jewish and Palestinian Americans Meet
To Build A Common Future
It happened, and no one can ever again say it can't be done. Near San Francisco International Airport, the hotel sign above Highway 101 said, "Welcome Jews and Palestinians Building A Common Future," making it a fact before people ever stepped inside. Five hours later, minds and hearts had changed. Strangers had become friends, and enemies were talking about becoming partners to invigorate the public peace process.
Here are some accounts of this historic and encouraging moment, and events leading to it.

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Abraham's Children
(San Jose Mercury-News, 15 November 1997)
" . . . Tonight the dialogue group, which has 30 members altogether, is sponsoring a sold-out dinner a the Clarion Hotel in Millbrae. More than 420 people -- almost all Palestinians and Jews --are expected to attend the affair, also sponsored by the Palestinian American Congress and the Jewish Community Relations Council. Organizers claim it will be the leargest Jewish-Palestinian event ever held in the United States . . . "

Hundreds of Jews, Palestinians get taste of unity here
(Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, 21 November 1997)
"One table held two Israeli Jews, a Palestinian Muslim, an Israeli-American Jew, two Palestinian-American Muslims, an American Jew and two Quakers. Symbols of peace were everywhere. A large banner with a photo of a borderless, bluish-green globe hung on one wall. Table centerpieces consisted of white paper doves and real olive branches. Name tags included phrases in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Touted as the largest event of its kind ever in the United States, about 420 people -- including 225 Jews and 150 Palestinians -- attended "Building a Common Future" in Millbrae on Saturday night. "It's time we...see each other as equals. We are the children of Abraham -- Palestinians and Jews," Elias Botto, one of the organizers, told the participants seated for dinner at the Clarion Hotel."

Grassroots ties bolster peace talks, Mideast envoy says
(Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, 21 November 1997)
"'What this group represents is what the peace process is all about,' Ross said. 'Peace has to connect people. It has to build bonds between people . . . For me, this is a conflict with a human face. I know too many people who have experienced pain . . . It's not possible for me to treat this conflict in theoretical terms.' In fact, he said the lack of 'people-to people' connections is one of the Oslo pace process' shortcomings. Ross announced that a committee assigned to create such programs between Israelis and Palestinians at the grassroots level will resume meeting at the end of this month."

To Build a Common Future
(The Christian Science Monitor, 21 November 1997)
"As a Jewish dentist and a Palestinian businesswoman, we've learned a lot about reconciliation in our five-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue group. We know the process isn't easy. But after 65 meetings, we've moved from fear to trust, from alienation to cooperation. And if we can do it, others can too."

Jews, Palestinians gather together
(San Mateo Weekly, 22 November 1997)
"Last Saturday evening 420 people attended the San Mateo County Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group dinner at the Clarion Hotel . . . [Ambassador Dennis Ross] attended a breakfast meeting Monday morning at the Clarion organized by the San Mateo organization . . . and reflected on the need to revive the people-to-people part of the peace process . . . Ross said that the more organizations like this one all over the world . . . the easier it will be for the peace process to succeed."

Another Step in the Public Peace Process
(Timeline, March/April 1998)

"Peace is not about politics, it's about people." That was how Ambassador Dennis Ross, U.S. Department of State Special Middle East Coordinator, affirmed the commitment of 420 Jews, Palestinians and "others" (supporters of peace who are neither Jewish nor Palestinian) who attended a dinner held near San Francisco in November 1997. Entitled "Building A Common Future," the dinner is thought to be the largest gathering of its kind ever held in the U.S."

"Arabs, Jews join forces," related activity at Stanford University
"A Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Workshop," student followup at the University of California, Santa Cruz

The 24-page printed
"Evening Program and Reconciliation Resource"
is available for educational use, from grasssroots to government.

      This illustrated booklet has instructional pages on listening, dialogue, and conflict resolution, with inspirational quotes and passages. Articles give examples of citizen-initiated projects that are already bringing Palestinians and Jews together in dialogue and cooperation. The "Evening Program" portion shows the flow of our dinner event, so people can consider doing one in their own communities. The booklet is in English, with a few passages in Hebrew and Arabic.
      If you wish to receive a copy, please e-mail to us your name, organization, airmail address, and other contact information. Please state the purpose for which you request your copy.
      Or simply download the complete printed program at http://traubman.igc.org/1997program.pdf .

(Dialogue Group photo)

Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
1448 Cedarwood Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
Voice: (650) 574-8303 Fax: (650) 573-1217
Web: http://www.igc.org/traubman

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