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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace


Bloomington, Indiana

Knesset speaker: Disengage; Naomi Chazan says Palestinian state necessary for peace

By Rick Newkirk
Indiana Daily Student
Monday, November 8, 2004

A former deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset urged local Jews Sunday to support an independent Palestinian state as an answer to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Naomi Chazan, a native of Jerusalem, served in Israel's parliament from 1992 to 2003. Mira Wasserman, Beth Shalom's Rabbi, said she met Chazan when she ate dinners at the politico's home -- an experience that, she said, included many political discussions.

"But we did not discuss politics," Chazan refuted. "We yelled it and screamed it."

The former deputy speaker told a crowd of 150 people at Congregation Beth Shalom -- in an even tone of voice -- that the best way to make peace in the Gaza Strip and disputed regions of Israel and Palestine is to embrace disengagement.

"The survival of Israel as a democratic state with a Jewish majority demands the creation of a Palestinian state along side Israel," Chazan said. "We will not be democratic, which is the real source of our strength ... if we continue to rule over another people against their will."

She also said those opposed to a separate and independent Palestinian state "are purveying anti-Zionist sentiment that will be our downfall."

Chazan said that though many of those in the audience probably wished for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry to win the presidential election -- a notion that led a large number of listeners to clap and cheer -- a George W. Bush win could signify a change in U.S. foreign relations, particularly regarding Israel.

Chazan said though President Bush abandoned the "Road Map" resolution he co-authored and signed in April 2003, which called for a Palestinian state as a solution to the conflict. Chazan said she feels the Bush administration is obligated to promote the two-state plan.

Also, she said U.S. officials know our country is "not particularly beloved" in the Middle East and in Europe, and that the incumbent president should understand the need to heal those severed relations.

The final reason for Jews and supporters of Israel to be optimistic about a second Bush term, Chazan said, is the possible impending death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The former Knesset speaker said the 200,000-plus Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip "will comply" if a disengagement resolution is passed. She also said she anticipates violence if such a measure is enacted, but noted, "If we're afraid of internal violence, we've already conceded."

Referring to a figure that between 10,000 and 30,000 Israeli settlers favor their own land ahead of the State of Israel -- and would not move even if asked by Israeli government -- Chazan said the fortune of Israel is more important than the fortune of a relatively insignificant number of "ideologues."

"Are you willing to mortgage the future of 7 million Israelis for the whims of 20,000?" she said.

One audience member asked Chazan about what aspect of the conflict "keeps (her) up at night."

Chazan responded that people like her parents, who were "Zionists in the deepest sense of the word," are concerned the younger sets of Israelis are growing weary of the conflict.

"I am frightened if we don't do something now to resolve the conflict, then 100 years of Zionists like my parents will be let down by the new generation," she said.
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