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Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Seek peace...and pursue it : Psalm 34:15

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II. Seeking Peace Bulletin

Issue #18
May 22, 2002

Remarks by Condoleeza Rice, National Security Adviser
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"America will also stand forever beside the people of Israel in their search for both security and peace. We will stand beside Israel because our countries share a common history, common interests, and common democratic values. We will stand beside the people of Israel because our partnership is the foundation for lasting peace in the region.

On April 4, President Bush articulated a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. And he made clear that it will be impossible to realize this vision unless all leaders and all parties meet their responsibilities and are held accountable."

American Jewish Committee, May 9, 2002

Hitting the Wall: Why a West Bank Fence Won't Protect Israel
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by Warren Bass

"Building a fence to keep out Palestinian terrorists: It's a beguilingly simple idea that continues to gain currency in an Israel tormented by Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Indeed, as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hastens back from Washington after yet another suicide bombing, his government is already starting to demarcate land for barriers and quietly thinking through what's euphemistically known in Israel as "separation." But a fence is a counsel of despair. While the idea has clear appeal for Israeli politicians, it's dubious security policy and rash diplomacy."

Slate, May 8, 2002

A Larger Canvas
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By Samuel R. Berger

"Four realities emerge from the most recent Middle East confrontations: First, a Palestinian strategy of terror will not work. . . . Second, as most Israelis understand, military action by itself cannot bring lasting security. . . . Third, belief in mutual accommodation has crumbled -- yet the impulse on each side for unilateral solutions is rooted more in resignation than in confidence. . . . Fourth, as every American president since Nixon has understood, U.S. leadership, indeed presidential leadership, is essential."

Washington Post, May 17, 2002

Yes, It's Broken, Now Fix It
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by Henry Siegman

"The recent explosion of international demands that the Palestinian Authority (PA) become more democratic, transparent and accountable is a phenomenon rich with irony. Palestinian activists have long maintained that the PA's failure to establish democratic governance and the rule of law diminishes not only their personal freedom but also the Palestinian struggle for statehood. But it is a complaint that, until the past two weeks, has received precious little support from the governments of Israel or the United States.”

Washington Post, May 19, 2002

Talking with the "Enemy": Fledling Jewish-Arab Dialogue Struggles Through Intifada's Violent Reality
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By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

"After listening to news accounts of Palestinian homicide bombers and Israel’s military response, Eddy Ehrlich feels ready ‘to explode.’

Then Ehrlich, a self-described political centrist, goes to his monthly Jewish-Arab dialogue circle and comes away feeling like a changed man.

'Thirty souls have opened up and the humanity flows,’ Ehrlich says. ‘I go out so relieved.’

Bassam Amin, a Palestinian living in Brooklyn, had to force himself to go to his most recent dialogue group. Israeli soldiers on a Ramallah street had recently shot to death one of his cousins, a mentally disabled man, he says. Amin, who spent the first half of his life in Kfar Malek, near Ramallah, says he now has nightmares about Israeli soldiers coming to his door in the middle of the night, dragging him out, naked, into the street.

'I have to challenge myself to sit across this table and speak about peace’ while feeling so angry, he says

At the same time, Amin struggles to teach his 6-year-old son to eschew hatred. ‘This is a huge dilemma for me, to explain the destruction to my son. I try to explain to him that not all Israelis are bad, that not all Jews are bad.’”

New York Jewish Week, May 10, 2002

Rabbinic and Cantorial Students for a Just Peace
In a previous update, we included an item concerning a newly formed group called “Rabbinical and Cantorial Students for a Just Peace.” They had sent a statement to leading American Jewish officials, stating their support of Israel but also raised concerns about Israel’s military retaliations.

Excerpt: "We worry about the safety and well being of our friends and family in Israel. We care deeply about the sustained viability of the Jewish State.

The American Jewish community has adopted a policy of unconditional support for Israel. Criticism of Israel is understood as anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, or self- hating. Our criticism is one born in deep love. Ours is a criticism that wishes to ally itself with the magnificence of what Israel might become, rather than unconditionally accept its shortcomings. Ours is a criticism that seeks the realization of the Zionist dream of peaceful co-existence with our neighbors.”