Thursday, April 19, 2007

From: "partnersforpeace"
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 05:34:36 -0000
Subject: [partnersforpeace] Read and Listen:
Jerusalem Women Speak
13 Make Waves in the Midwest!

18 April 2007
Jerusalem Women Speak 13 Makes Waves in the Midwest:
Read and Listen!
The Thirteenth national Jerusalem Women Speak tour has
already made an impact on the midwest. Among many media
venues, an interview with Huda Abu Arqoub, Tal Dor and
Amal Nassar was published in the Chicago Tribune on
Sunday, April 15. The full text of the article follows.

Below you will also find links to radio interviews with
the women aired on Radio Islam (Chicago), Wisconsin
Public Radio, and Chicago Public Radio.

Message to Americans: Ask questions
Chicago Tribune
by Deborah Horan

April 15, 2007
Perspective Section, Page 3

Tal Dor, an Israeli Jew, Huda Abu Arqoub, a Palestinian
Muslim, and Amal Nassar, a Palestinian Christian, are
peace activists on tour in the Midwest to speak about
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With sponsorship from Washington, D.C.-based Partners for
Peace, the three advocate an end to Israel's military
occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state in the
West Bank and Gaza. The Tribune spoke to them about their
efforts toward peace in the Mideast. An edited transcript

What motivated you to participate in the tour?

Dor: I see the U.S. playing a very important role in the
power dynamic back home, influencing and encouraging the
occupation. What I'm trying to do is to say to [the American]
people: Start asking questions. You have a responsibility
for the Israeli occupation and you need to start
acknowledging it, and start acting to change it.

Nassar: I'm here to raise awareness of what is happening
in Palestine. I see more confiscating of [Palestinian]
land, expanding of [Israeli] settlements [in the West
Bank], building a wall which [strangles] the Palestinians
economically and socially. What we are trying to do is
stand against the situation and not to give up.

What are the most common questions you get from audiences?

Dor: As a Jewish Israeli from South Africa, the most common
question I get is what do I think of [Jimmy] Carter's book
["Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"]. Most people are
commenting because of the title. It created a lot of anger
in Israel and among Jews around the world. [They] do not
like to make the comparison. It is something that makes us
feel bad. I say of course it's not the same; the narrative
is not the same. ... [But] you can say the roads going to the
[Jewish] settlements are apartheid. You can see the difference
in colors of [Palestinian] identity cards, like the different
colors that were given to black South Africans. These colors
define your freedom of movement. This is something we don't
like to look at. We have to look at it.

Do you think Americans have an accurate picture of the conflict
between Israelis and Palestinians?

Abu Arqoub: I know for sure they do not have a clue. They miss
the daily suffering of the Palestinians. They are not familiar
with the power dynamics. The American people think there is a
conflict between two equals. They don't know it's not true.

Dor: I think Americans have the same idea I got growing up in
Israel. For example, one of the things said to us is
"Palestinian terrorist" and "Israeli Defense Force." We use
these terms all the time, of course. But you'd think at least
the international [community] would say "Wait, who has more
weapons?" So it amazes me that one is considered terrorist and
one is considered defense.

The international community maintains that Hamas has not
explicitly recognized Israel or agreed to accept previous peace
agreements. Both Israel and America consider it a terrorist
organization. Why should Israel negotiate with a government that
includes Hamas?

Abu Arqoub: First of all, Hamas recognized Israel and wanted to
negotiate, but the door was slammed in their face. They offered
a truce more than once. [Think of] Hamas like the Sinn Fein.
Internally, Hamas is going through the same process as Sinn Fein.
But nobody is sponsoring the change. The international community
is saying, "No, you are a terrorist organization. " It's damaging
to their internal efforts to evolve into a political party. They
are not being given the chance.

Dor: I think that this whole discourse of Hamas not recognizing
Israel is a bit ironic when Israel is not recognizing the
Palestinians. They don't recognize them as a nation, as a people.
Some of the brightest minds in the diplomatic world have been
searching for a formula to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
for years.

Why is it so difficult to reach an agreement that both sides can

Abu Arqoub: I think the problem is in the definition of a viable
[Palestinian] state. What do we mean by a viable state? [Will]
the [border crossings] be in the hands of [the Israelis]? What
about the question of settlements? If every time the Israeli army
feels they need to get inside the West Bank because of the
settlements, then I have no country. I have no state.

Dor: I want to rephrase the question. This word peace negotiation
is an illusion. You cannot speak about peace when there is occupation.
Four weeks ago [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and [Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] met, shaking hands on television. It was
very -- wow -- amazing meeting. At the same time, for that whole week,
the Israeli army invaded the [Palestinian] city of Nablus.

Nassar: Israel mixes religion [into the conflict]. We have to go every
now and then to a [military] court in Ramallah [on the West Bank].
[Editor's note: The Nassar family is fighting confiscation of its land
near Bethlehem.] In one of the court sessions, the judge asked about our
documents and maps. We had everything from 1924. Then the other side
said, "We have a paper from God." They stood up with a small piece
of paper and said, "We have it from God."

Do Israelis and Palestinians have the same definition of a Palestinian

Abu Arqoub: I don't think they have the same definition. To the
Palestinian, a state is viable. It has sovereignty. It has borders.
It has access to the outside world. It has structure, geographical
continuity. To the Israelis, a [Palestinian] state is one that they
can enter into every time they feel their security is threatened.Dor:
I believe if Israel really wanted a Palestinian state, it would have
happened already. But everything is going on not to let it happen. I
think this talk about two states is again a manipulative discourse.
What about the Israelis who say that if they relinquish the West
Bank the Palestinians will use it as a launching pad to liberate
the rest of historic Palestine, which is now Israel?

Dor: I would say, "I am not afraid." I would say, "Go speak to
Palestinians. " Most Palestinians don't speak about throwing the
Jews into the sea. We must not do to the Palestinians what we are
assuming maybe they will do to us. We have to acknowledge that
most of the Palestinians want to live in peace.

Isn't part of the problem that Palestinian refugees insist on
returning to land that is now in Israel?

Dor: I'm not sure all the refugees will want to come back anyway.
But we have to discuss how they can come back. We have to talk
about justice.

Abu Arqoub: They can go to the West Bank when the West Bank is
a viable state.There has been a lot of criticism of the barrier
that separates Israel from the West Bank. But suicide bombings
have gone down since it was built.

Do you think the wall makes Israel more secure?

Abu Arqoub: [Fewer bombs are] not because of the wall. It's
because the militant groups decided to play politics. I've managed
to get into Jerusalem [by circumventing Israeli checkpoints] .
I could have had a bomb on me. That's why I believe the sense of
security in Israel is twisted. It has nothing to do with [the wall].
If Hamas and Islamic Jihad have the intention of doing a suicide
bombing in Israel, they will do it. The wall is not going to stop

Dor: I disagree. I think the wall did reduce the amount of suicide
bombings. [It] is reducing the bombing but it's increasing the
hatred. When you close people in ghettos, when people have nothing
to lose, they will find ways to resist. I believe it will get worse
because of the wall. Israel is creating a more dangerous place.

Deborah Horan is a Tribune staff reporter. She covered the Middle
East for eight years.dhoran@

(Copyright 2007 by the Chicago Tribune)

Jerusalem Women Speak 13 Radio Segments:

Radio Islam – WVON Chicago (April 13)

Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders - Wisconsin Public Radio (April 16).

WorldView - Chicago Public Radio (April 18).

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