A True Story By Faisal Al-kateep
I am a Palestinian Arab from Hizmeh, a village between Jerusalem and Ramallah. When I was 15 years old I fought against the Israeli Occupation in search of freedom. At that time I thought every Jewish person, whether soldier or citizen, man or woman, young or old, should be killed. I rejected the right for any Jew to live and every Jew was a target. I was just a kid, believe me, and I didn’t understand anything about politics or the Arab-Israeli conflict. I was arrested and sat in jail for 12 years. This was during the first intifada from 1987. At that time nobody talked about peace but only of violence. I matured during my time in jail. I started studying and reading books on politics, literature, poetry, and about the Madrid Conference.
It gave me hope to live in peace and dignity. I learned that violence only breeds violence and that peace is the only solution for the two nations, the only way for both to have a respectful and beautiful future. We live on the same land. We are neighbors. We drink the same water and both pray to a monotheistic God. We must live in peace on the basis of religion for God and land for everyone.
Salaam Yahya. By the way, I wished to mention to you . . . I think about a year ago in the "American Friends of mepeace" Group you recommended a book, "What is Right With Islam . . ." by a Mr. Rauf. I saw this post just a few days ago. I found the book Mr. Rauf wrote previous to this one, although I think they are similar, on Google Books, so I am reading it. Thanks for the great idea.
you may want to look into this discussion: http://www.mepeace.org/forum/topics/muslim-quotes-and-other?page=1&commentId=661876%3AComment%3A154473&x=1#661876Comment154473
As a Muslim I hear very often "Hadith", that the day will come where Muslim will clean Jews in Palestine. Are those Hadith true?
Is there new post-modern interpretations of the the daily propaganda in religions people used to share, but not the real meanings of religion ..
Salaam aleikum Yahya,
Thanks for your comment about the inner jihad; it is the same as Torah teaches. Do you know Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater of Pasadena? He and I work with the same organization.
I see from your profile that you're a Muslim in the U.S. interested in doing interfaith Israel/Palestine peace work. I'm a Jew in the Boston area who shares that interest. Where do you live? Are you currently involved in any work of that kind? Thanks for being here!
Hi Yahya, sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, I just haven't been online. You have an interesting take on both history and reality. Let me start with the obvious, do you truly believe that if Israel did have a policy to get rid of the Arab population, that 20% of Israel would be Arab today? Do you doubt for a minute that Israel could have emptied the land, had that indeed been the policy? And why make a public plea for Arabs to stay, if you really want them to go?
Your example of Americans settling Iraq is not particularly appropriate. Jews are indigenous to Palestine, it is where the Jewish nation was formed and existed for thousands of years, Americans are certainly not indigenous to Iraq.
It's history, Yahya, not "soft Zionist propaganda", and I think you should refer to it in forming your views. The land, for example, was 70% Ottoman public lands when the Turks were defeated in WW1. This was the land (not any privately owned land) that was allocated by the League of Nations ... 80% to the Arabs east of the Jordan River, and the 20% west of the river to the Jews, in recognition of "their bond with the land" as indigenous people. Yahay, you can challenge the League's right to distribute that land, but you would be challenging the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, all formed from similar land allocations.
It's a matter of record that local Arabs owned 3.9% of the land west of the Jordan river ... 70% was Ottoman public land, the Jews owned 10%, and absentee landlords and westerners owned the rest. It clearly wasn't Palestinian land, and I'm curious to know how you arrived at that conclusion. When you add the Ottoman allocation you find that Jews owned 80% of the land .... a clearly different situation to the Americans in Iraq. Arabs today own 3.3% of Israeli territory, no great change in their holdings, so the accusations of the theft of Palestinian land is simply unfounded.
Hi Yahya, thanks for your comment, and I was wondering if you have read Israel's Declaration of Independence, which is evidence of what I was saying, as is the vibrant lives being led by Israel's Arabs, certainly many times better than in most Arab countries. That Arabs chose to leave in 1948 comes as no surprise. Weeks before America got to Afghanistan 2 million were camped at the border trying to get into Pakistan, It seems that Iraq is also dealing with millions of displaced people who chose to move, millions also moved during the Iran/Iraq war, pretty much all of Southern Lebanon moved out when Israel was massing troops in 1980, and some 700,000 left in 1948. Perhaps you see no pattern, I certainly do. Yet you seem to have no problem with the Jews who were evicted by force from their homes in Jordan, nor those from Yemen, Morrocco etc, over 800,000 in all. There was a stated policy of ethnic cleansing by the Arab League. The fact that Jews are forbidden from settling in Saudi Arabia doesn't raise an eyebrow. You totally focus on the Arabs who left Israel ... but that's OK. As you say, we know little about why, neither do we know much of their status. The numbers suggest that there were relatively few property owners amongst them. The 1947 UN statistic of local Arabs holding clear title to 3.9% of Palestine, coupled with the Israeli statistics of 3.3% Arab land ownership in Israel tells its own story, and undoubtedly many were itinerent workers who had come for the tens of thousands of jobs the British were providing ... I don't know, and I'm not sure that it matters. There have been huge population moves for many reasons with every conflict. Is that the point you are making? If it is, I entirely agree.
Hi Yahya, thanks for your comments and explanations, they do make many things clearer. As for Jerusalem, it already is a heritage for the entire world, and all religions have had access to all their religious sites in ways that were not true before Israeli control. Israel is wholly committed to protecting all holy sites in Israel, and has even saved the Dome of the Rock from being blown up by a crazed New Zealander. I did look up the issue of the cemetery you mention, and it's not quite as clear as you state, though I personally consider it as having historical importance. It was decommisioned, the term "had lost its mundras" probably speaks to you far more than to me, back in 1967. It was let fall into terrible disrepair, and even a parking lot built over much of it didn't bother anybody. Even years ago when the Simon Weisenthal Centre (not the Israeli government as you suggest) announced plans to build the centre, there were absolutely no objections. They only came in the form of a High Court action once work had started. Currently, work is stopped till the High Court resolves the issue.
It seem, Yahya, that you harbour a lot of hatred for "successive Israeli governments" and it saddens me that this colours your views, where you simply see none of the good. Can you not see that this issue isn't simply being fobbed off, but that the highest authorities in the land are taking it far more seriously than the Moslem religious authorities ever did? I'll bet that should this be resolved for retaining the cemetery, Israel will pour millions into restoring it and setting it up as a meaningful place that people will visit ... and there, too, I'm sure we differ.
Yahya, the Arabs were welcomed into Israel from day one in a way that Jews were never accepted into Arab lands, no matter how many centuries they lived there. Does that speak to you at all?
it is the State of Israel that indeed needs to take the first step to peace. Israel needs to give up the Old City, to give it back to God, as a sacrifice, because it did not obey the will of God to make peace with their neighbors in year after the Jubilee, the 49th year after the independence of the State of Israel, although Barak, Arafat and Clinton did their best in Camp David in 2000.
The Islamic world has to sacrifice as well the Old City of Jerusalem to the Almighty. Both countries withdraw their claims of possessing their authority over the Old City. At this way, an open city will arise, respecting all the religions and worships and with either Palestinian or Israeli passports for their citizens.
It will not be me who will say that Israel must take the first step. It will be the citizens of Jerusalem themselves that will show the State that this step to a undivided, united Jerusalem as capital of Israel as well as Palestine can be made.
The sting of all problems between Israeli and Palestinians lays in the Old City of Jerusalem. Her status has to be solved in such a way, that all parties fighting for control over her can agree upon.
On June 24, the ‘Big Hug’ will be hold in Jerusalem. Light workers from Israel, Palestine and from all over the world, ‘Lovers of Jerusalem’, will come together to bring warmth and energy to this city, embracing holding hands the Old City. If we bundle all our positive energies and bring these to Jerusalem, we can create peace to this exceptional place.
We are organizing the Big Hug to make the people aware –especially the Israeli and Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem- that there is a very shaped perspective for the city of Jerusalem as a city of peace: a new, undivided Jerusalem, as the capital of Palestine, Israel and at large.
Let go of the conflict concerning her command and dedicate the city to the Omnipresent. The Old City as a whole is His Temple. To give the walled Old City free to God, as a "Status Apart”, as an independent city, will be the most feasible way to come out the current impasse.
The Old City of Jerusalem must become an open city; a House of Prayer for all the Peoples. This perspective is written down in the Holy Books, this is the perspective we, as ‘Lovers of Jerusalem’ embrace as well as solution. But how many people does already notice this hopeful point of view?
What I saw in Jerusalem and also everywhere else where I meet Islamic and Jewish people is, that not so many persons really think about a future for Jerusalem. Most of the time, they stick with old ideas that the Old City of Jerusalem will always remain a part of Israel, or in opposite, that it will be absolutely a part of a new Palestinian state, as stolen land that has to be given back. With these visions, a future Jerusalem will be a divided city with an East Palestinian and West Israeli part, with barbed wire and checkpoints in between, like the situation of the city from 1948-1967. Or, coming closer to an agreement, people suggest -like proposed in the “Geneva Accord” in 2003- to make a complicated dividing of the Old City in a Israeli and Palestinian part. That will mean that the small alleys will be split by walls and barriers too. The idea that a future Jerusalem will become a divided city, is something that we have to prevent.
There are living about 250.000 Palestinian and 500.000 Israeli rather close together in one city. Do they want to make a separation of Jerusalem in parts or do they choose, deep in their hearts, for unity? So my best friends, it is our task to inform the whole city that there is an alternative for the Jerusalem of today.
All lovers of a united Jerusalem will come together to encircle and embrace the Old City of Jerusalem with love and devotion. We have to encourage all inhabitants of Jerusalem to join the coming Big Hug, with the idea of a New Jerusalem that might be realized with their support.
Rob Schrama Phone:0031-646608660 www.loversofjerusalem.org
I'll pick up What's Right with Islam next time I go to Borders. There is just a chance one group or another that I work with would like a presentation on Islam - I'll ask. I am on the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics Board, and we are showing Encounter Point around the city. If you have a group in Simi Valley that would enjoy watching that, please let me know. Thank you for the welcome, and I will be sure to let you know when the online dialog starts up. -- Roger Eaton
I much like your posts, Yahya. We are nearly neighbors, I see - I live in Culver City. Hmm tried to order What's Right With Islam by Feisal Abdul Rauf, but on Amazon it is only available in a Kindle edition for electronic download and I am Kindleless (;-). I am working with a local organization, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics out of Malibu to host a Middle East Peace dialog beginning this summer. I'll be posting more about it on mepeace when things look more definite - at this point still waiting for software to be ready. More then. All the best, --Roger Eaton
Here are some of the photos from this year’s slide show, thanks to our volunteer photographers Ed and Steven Wein and Matthew Kollander. I hope you enjoy them!
...singing at Pizza night with local Interact Club students; shopping; braiding challah bread; classroom work; interfaith day; a poignant moment in class; folk dancing at the Bernstein’s; ropes course and formal group photos... And, of course, there was much, much more.
(I already sent via separate email to our partners in Haifa, and Ron and Ilan.)