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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace


Two Sides, Two Peoples, One Hope for Peace

Marquette Tribune
April 21, 2005
By Amanda Sheaffer

It is possible to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, said three speakers looking to build commonality between Palestinians and Israelis in order to bring peace to the Middle East.

Rafi Dajani, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine, Daniel Levy, director of policy planning of the Geneva Campaign and Herzl Spiro, vice president of the Wisconsin chapter of American Jewish Committee, gathered at Tuesday's Soup with Substance to pledge their support for the "Two-State Solution" that would establish a separate Palestinian state near Israel.

"I think for the first time we have an intersection of interests," Dajani said. "It is in the best interest for both Palestine and Israel to establish a Palestinian state."

Levy said the appearance of himself and Dajani was a powerful message.

"We have shared interests," Levy said. "The most pro-Israel position seeks out shared interests and supports peace."

Besides shared interests, Spiro said both groups must have an equal opportunity to declare their views.

"The best solution is having the voice of the Palestinian people heard and the voice of the Israeli people heard," Spiro said.

According to Dajani, the recent election of Palestinian leader Abu Mazen is optimistic because it appears Mazen wants to achieve peace through the political process.

"The only way to achieve a Palestinian state is through the political process," Dajani said. "Unilateralism does not work. There has to be an attempt to engage in the political process."

Strong cooperation with Israel and help from the United States are key factors in establishing a Palestinian state, Dajani said.

"By definition, the two-state solution means the vast majority of (Israeli) settlements in the West Bank would be removed," Dajani said. "We are not against Israel, we are against Israel occupation."

Levy said Israeli withdrawal should not solely be from the West Bank.

"We need to move forward and extradite ourselves from the West Bank and Gaza," Levy said. "There needs to be a viable Palestinian state."

Spiro said the tension between the Jewish and Muslim faiths is at the heart of the conflict, but this can start to be remedied by following the late Pope John Paul II's model of outreach.

"Samuel Huntington was wrong — it is not a clash of civilizations, but a clash between each of our religions," he said, referring to the political scientist who argued future conflicts would emerge on the fault lines between cultures and nations rather than states. Rafi Dajani, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine, was one of three speakers who spoke at the Alumni Memorial Union Tuesday about the importance of finding common ground between Palestinians and Israelis.

Spiro said the late pontiff's outreach to the Jewish and Muslim communities was admirable and should be adopted by people of those faiths.

"Isn't it time for us to find that leadership in our faiths?" he asked.

Both Dajani and Levy said they thought speaking at Marquette was important because university students tend to be more divided on how to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"There is a serious division between Muslim and Jewish students on the various campuses I've spoken at," Dajani said. "The students seem to be more interested in scoring debating points instead of finding common ground. Students need to realize they can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine."

Levy agreed that it is possible to support both sides.

"Students tend to ride the hard-lining positions but need to move more toward commonality," Levy said.

Tuesday's Soup with Substance was the fourth to address the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"We work to promote peace and nonviolence and also to foster debate," said College of Arts & Sciences senior Timothy Kell, a Manresa intern with University Ministry.

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