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A Jewish adventure in a Palestinian refugee camp

Jewish American group with their Palestinian host family at Dehisheh refugee camp (Photo:Rich Katz)

Six months ago, nineteen Jews broke the usual partisan norms when it comes to visiting the “Holy Land” by choosing to hear not only the Israeli Zionist narrative—with which most of them are already familiar—but also pushing themselves to learn and experience the Palestinian narrative on their synagogue’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. They chose to shatter the classical stereotype of tourists who come to Israel to experience the luxurious hotels and touchstone religious sites but that prevent them from experiencing the “other” important local culture.

Tourism packages excel in keeping tourists in a bubble. The guests visit restaurants, hotels, and venues that are designed to give them the illusion of having a local experience, without having to step outside their comfort zone.  Tourism in Israel and Palestine is largely dependent on “religious” pilgrimage trips where tourists are rushed from one archeological site to another without fulfilling the spiritual aspect of the trip they had aspired to experience.

This kind of tourism doesn’t characterize all visitors to the Holy Land, however, because there is emerging lately an alternative kind of tourism. There are people who have interests that go beyond the usual religious sites. They understand religious pilgrimage to mean creating a connection with the land, the people and the culture. Such special people choose to come for an educational and practical experience.  This not to say they avoid typical sites, nor do they fail to indulge in relaxing and luxurious experiences, but they refuse to ignore the full potential of a Holy Land trip.

In December of 2010, I had the privilege of coordinating a tour for the nineteen Jews from Chicago led by their rabbi. Contrary to normal tours, ours was led equally by two tour guides for the entire trip, a Palestinian and an Israeli. The purpose was to provide the tourists with a context of the Israel/Palestine conflict and allow them to learn the different narratives that exist in the region. They visited many religious sites in Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem. Everywhere they visited, locals welcomed them and spoke to them about a vast variety of issues. They learned about the life, challenges and aspirations of both the people of Palestine and of Israel.

Perhaps what was most impressive about the trip was the group’s shocking request to have home stays at a Palestinian refugee camp. For two nights, nineteen Jews stayed in four Palestinian homes in Deheisheh Refugee Camp.

To my knowledge this is unprecedented, a delegation of Jewish congregants sleeping in Palestinian refugees homes, eating from their food, playing games with their children and grandchildren—a few even smoking hookah all night long with the youth of the camp. They talked about music, life, culture, romance, and–against my advice–even politics. The host families were the average Palestinian families and not the elite Palestinians. Some family members did not speak English, yet they did not have a problem communicating. They proved that the language of humanity transcends any linguistic boundaries.

Jewish American Group eating dinner with their Palestinian host family at Dehisheh refugee camp (Photo: Rich Katz)

The rabbi told me that on the first night at the refugee camp, a seventeen-year-old host took him around the camp and introduced him to his friends. He took him to his “hangout” spots, and shared with him his dreams and stories from his life. Who could believe that a Jewish rabbi experienced the nightlife of Deheisheh Refugee Camp? This represents a glimmer of hope that we should all cling to.

On the day I picked up the group from their home stays, the scene was unbelievable. I never expected to see Palestiniansweeping because Jews were leaving their homes – normally the other way around. The goodbye was emotional, even heartbreaking; no eyes were left dry. The relationships created in two days seemed to be unshakable. The fact that these were Jews and Muslims in a place torn by nationality, religion and conflict did not stop them from overcoming stereotypes and becoming friends. They looked beyond religion and nationality and connected on the basic level of humanity.

(Photo: Rich Katz)

Some Jewish extremists claim that if a Palestinian state is to be created, the Jews will not be able to visit their holy sites in the West Bank. They argue that Palestinians would not grant them the freedom to worship there. This argument is the basis for many settler justifications of the Occupation.

Nineteen Jews proved that this notion is not necessarily true. The Palestinian families in Deheisheh Refugee Camp did not mind hosting Jews, not just in hotels but rather in their homes. They stayed under the same roof, with no protection, no weapons or checkpoints. They were safe because they came as friends, not as enemies. They came with flowers and gifts, not with guns.

When back in their East Jerusalem hotel, the Jewish congregation held a prayer and worship service. Not only did the Palestinian hotel staff not object, but rather they did everything possible to make sure the Jews had all they needed for the service.

Jews have a significant history and heritage in the West Bank, and many Palestinian Muslims and Christians do not deny it since it is part of their own religious history. It is understandable why many Jews feel connected to some places in the West Bank, just like Palestinians have history and heritage within Israel to which they are drawn. Palestinians will always welcome Jews to the West Bank, not as settlers, but as friends and neighbors. This is the kind of new relationship needed between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the “Holy Land”, a place that will hopefully one day soon live up to its name.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Thanks, Aziz for you powerful words about our trip, which still continues to resonate for me and the participants in profound ways. You are truly a “guide” in every sense of the term; the humanity with which you manage to bring peoples together came through in every word of your post.

      In Peace and Solidarity,

      Rabbi Brant Rosen
      Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
      Evanston, IL

      Reply to Comment
    2. Louis

      Liberal religion, progressive leadership in the Jewish Community that is willing to look beyond the Ner Tamid of Occupation as good that Israel sells is a large part of dismantling that which is built only to destroy… a great idea and lets hope that Rabi Rosen’s congregation can persuade others to do the same.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Aziz

      Thank you rabbi. By the way you should use this to share more of your night life stories at the camp

      Reply to Comment
    4. Myron Bateman

      That living room in the picture is a perfect example of the horrid squalor and dire conditions that arab “refugees” live in. Obviously, playing the refugee card for 64 years gets you nowhere! If only more Jewish Americans would learn of the tragic lives of these refugees! They might be able to at least get them flat screen TVs! Now the billion people on the planet that don’t have access to fresh water and live on a buck a day. Well, hell, take a number! We’ve got REAL human suffering to occupy ourselves with right here in Israel!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Moses Jaradat

      Rabbi Rosen , you are a very brave and decent human being , the world needs more people like you ,who don’t judge others based on their faith ,this is the true Judaism that god sent to the Jewish people , keep up the good work and Hashim will be always on your side, shalom

      Reply to Comment
    6. Neal Rubin

      Myron Bateman, if the Israeli government didn’t spend so much money on protecting the illegal settlements in the West Bank and if they didn’t spend so much money on unnecessary check points in the West Bank then perhaps the Israeli government might have some money to deal with the human suffering in Israel proper. It is just a matter of priorities Myron.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jason

      Myron if that looks like a flat screen TV to you, then you must also believe that the world is flat.

      Reply to Comment
    8. More real, human connections need to be made in order to dispel the myths perpetrated by the textbooks of the madrases and the textbooks of the settlements.
      I am proud to be a member of Rabbi Brant’s congregation, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Lauren

      Such a touching story! I wish more people wanted to go on tours such as this.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ben Israel

      I fail to see how there is any connection between these Palestinians being so nice and hosting Rosen’s group in their homes and the premise that Jews would be able to visit their holy places if they were under Palestinian control
      This group of Palestinians is not in power and they are not the government. They may have been very nice but the fact is no matter how nice they are, that fact does not provent the Palestinian Authority state-controlled media from broadcasting endless hours of antisemitic propaganda. They may be nice but that does not alter the historical fact that when the Arabs controlled the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed any access to their holy places EVEN THOUGH THIS WAS AGREED TO IN THE 1949 CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENTS. The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem with its 55 synagogues and Batei Midrash was completely destroyed. Who says it won’t happen again if Israel foolishly gives up control, no matter how nice Rosen’s new friends are?

      The column mentions that politics were discussed. No mention of what was said was made. I am sure the “Right of Return” of the refugees was discussed. No wonder it was better left unreported here. In any even Rosen’s group are NOT Israelis and do not speak for Israelis. Rosen himself is a member of the rabbinical council of the Jewish Voice for Peace which is an anti-Zionist organization and Rosen himself is a self-proclaimed anti-Zionist so we don’t know what he said to his hosts nor do we know what impression it made.

      Wars and conflicts and not caused by differences between individuals on either side of the barricades and they are never solved by “people-to-people” contacts like this. They are political and no matter how nice Rosen’s friends are, the Palestinian and other Arab grievances that have been driving it have not change and not gone away simply because Rosen’s groups made a few friends and had a nice dinner.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Philos

      Ben Israel. “People-to-people” contacts have been instrumental in reconciliation processes that have taken places in other countries where peace was made. The most notable is in Northern Ireland where after 600-hundreds of years of religious and ethnic hatred (that’s right, 600-hundred, put that in your pipe and smoke it on your 100-years of Jewish-Arab “insoluble conflict”) where such contacts between the Irish and Ulster communities are essential to maintaining support for the peace there.
      Most Israelis envision the peace with the Palestinians as a type of divorce in which we will never see them again except in bitter fights. I wish more was done to address this illusion and your delusions; peace with the Palestinians would be an on-going, multi-generational, process involving reconciliation, treaties, ministerial committee meetings, security cooperation or even alliance. A continuous interaction between two neighbouring states like between France and Germany today. Hell, when we’re both in the ground and so are our children maybe our grand-kids or their kids will find the whole idea of two states futile and push for federation. Call me a dreamer if you like but no good was ever achieved without dreaming. If you will it. After all, who would have thought the French and German’s would become bosom buddies?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben Israel

      I am not an expert on the situation in Northern Ireland, but I heard that they had to build Orwellian-named “peace walls” to separate Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods that were in proximity to one another. Doesn’t sound like good neighborliness to me.

      Yes, Frenchmen and Germans are cooperating today. But that is not because of “dialogue” groups, it is because Germany suffered a devastating defeat in the Second World War and the Germans came to the conclusion that military agression was not they way to national development. The War was won by bombing, shooting and killing, not by ‘peace dialogues’.

      Reply to Comment
    13. They argue that Palestinians would not grant them the freedom to worship there. This argument is the basis for many settler justifications of the Occupation.
      Nineteen Jews proved that this notion is not necessarily true
      Didn’t you read Abu Mazzen about paletinian state free of any jews

      Reply to Comment
    14. Sergio Stephano

      Im my opinion this is another proof that the conflcit is territorial and not religious.

      Before the Nakba, Arabs and Hebrews had 14 centuries of good relations, lets make that happen again.

      UN res 194 and 242 would be a good start.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Devo K

      How touching… a bunch of Jews eating non-kosher. Brings a tear to my eye.

      I wonder, did this group have equal time with say, neighbors of the Fogel family?

      Reply to Comment
    16. BI,

      I’m sorry, but you are wrong to say that people to people contact does not end conflict. I am deeply disturbed by your implication that “bombing, shooting and killing” is the way to end this particular conflict.

      In answer to your question, I did not discuss the Right of Return with any of the host families with which we stayed. For the record, our conversations were nuanced, intelligent, and a wide range of points of views were expressed on all sides.

      We did not purport to speak for Israelis – we were there as American Jews and we made that perfectly understood wherever we went. (I would only point out that inasmuch as Israel claims to be the Jewish State for all Jews everywhere, Israel certainly doesn’t hesitate to speak for me.)

      Your characterization of Jewish Voice for Peace is ignorant and ill-informed. I encourage readers to read the JVP mission statement to learn more about about our positions:

      http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/jvp-mission-statement

      An excerpt:

      “Israelis and Palestinians have the right to security, sovereignty, and self-determination within political entities of their own choosing.

      Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, completely withdraw from these Occupied Territories and relinquish all its settlements, military outposts and by-pass roads.

      Jerusalem has to be shared in a manner that reflects its spiritual, economic, and political importance to both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as to all Jews, Muslims and Christians.

      The plight of Palestinian refugees needs to be resolved equitably and in a manner that promotes peace and is consistent with international law. Within the framework of an equitable agreement, the refugees
      should have a role in determining their future, whether pursuing return, resettlement, or financial compensation. Israel should recognize its share of responsibility for the ongoing refugee crisis and for its resolution.

      The parties must equitably distribute water and other natural resources.

      Diplomatic negotiations between the two parties must be held unconditionally. Countries other than the U.S. should be involved in peace negotiations. An international peacekeeping force should be established to protect all civilians.”

      Reply to Comment
    17. Steffen

      Ben Israel,

      it is precisely because of dialogue groups and contact between people on both sides of the border why there is no conflict between France and Germany today.

      It makes little sense to speak hypothetically but if Germans and French had known each other better than they did at the beginning of the 19th century, German men might have been unwilling to take up arms and invade France. The fact that they didn’t know anyone on the other side made it much easier for army recruiters to mobilize.

      Either way, today people on both sides are much more familiar with people from the other side, so much so that they were willing to give up parts of their national sovereignty and share it with the other nation.

      Almost every German city has a twin in France and vibrant exchanges take place between them, kids and youth get to travel and spend time with their counterparts etc. If push came to shove, would these young people who have friends across the border vote for political parties that favor invading the other nation? I think not.

      More of these exchanges are needed, in Europe and the Holy Land, for they DO make a difference.

      Reply to Comment
    18. DiDi

      Wonderful. Reconstructionists, a bunch of people who think Torah is a cultural storybook. Actually accepting it as the word of Hashem would require them to have some convictions…like oh, not trashing mitzvot like kashrut so they can feel all warm and fuzzy.

      Totally agree to – if this is a refugee camp, what are these camps I see around the world where people live in squalid tents?

      Reply to Comment
    19. Ben Israel

      Sergio-
      The belief that “Jews and Arabs had good relations” before the rise of Zionism is a MYTH. This myth was propagated by 19th century Jewish historians who were trying to shame the European Christians into granting emancipation to the Jews by falsely claiming that the Muslims had treated the Jews better than the Christians did over the same period.
      IT is true that there weren’t as many outright massacres, but Jews were looked down on by the Muslim population. There were, on occassion, tolerant rulers who were liberal in their dealings with the dhimmi Jews and Christians, but these rulers were generally considered “bad rulers” by the Muslim population who couldn’t understand why dhimmis were being treated as well as the priviledged Muslim population by their own Muslim ruler.
      As I said it is true that there weren’t as many massacres, but the first real massacre of Jews in Europe occurred BEFORE the crusades in 1066 in Muslim Cordoba in Spain.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Ben Israel

      Brant Rosen-
      I did NOT say that this conflict would be ended by warfare. I DID say the “problem” with Germany in the 1940′s was ended that way. The Arab-Israeli conflict will reach a modus-vivendi (without a contractual peace which is unattainable) by Israel being FIRM in its demand for Jewish rights in the country while offering a willingness to cooperate with the non-Jewish population of the country in its development.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Rana

      Beautiful. We need more of these stories, more of these trips.

      Reply to Comment
    22. max

      Rabbi Brant Rosen, I’m afraid that the statement “An international peacekeeping force should be established to protect all civilians” reflects the general credibility of your “mission statement”.
      .
      BI – while you’re right that the position of a few is irrelevant to the political situation, I think that it’s hard to refute the assumption that knowing your opponent could bring to more understanding.
      That said, prior to 1988 the contacts between Jews and Palestinians was quite rich, and yet no solution was found. I think, however, that at that time there was more trust between the parties than today.
      A turning point for many Israeli Jews has been the cheers of the crowd during the Ramallah lynch in October 2000.
      And yet, to achieve peace (formal or not), it’s the people that have to trust, not only the governments to sign it.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Saeed Hotary

      I do hope that oneday the kindness of the Palestinians of Deheishe will be reciprocated when they can visit former israelis in their homes in Minsk, Cracow, Chicago, etc and break bread. Only when everyone is in their home can peace prevail

      Reply to Comment
    24. richard Allen

      And Morocco and Lebanon and Iraq and Yemen, etc., Saeed?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Ben Israel

      Please don’t get carried away with this “diagloue” stuff. Knowing one another is no recipe for peace. I’ll give some examples:
      Sarajevo-when Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990′s, Serb and Bosnian Muslim neighbors who had been friends started slaughtering each other.
      Baghdad-when the US ousted Saddam Hussein Shi’ite and Sunni neighbors and good friends started slaughtering one another.
      Vienna-immediately after the Anschluss (German annexation of Austria in 1938) neighbors of Jews who had been friends suddenly drag their old friends into the streets and start beating them up.
      Lebanon-in the 1970′s civil war good friends and neighbors started slaughtering one another
      Hebron – 1929, old friends and neighbors of the Jews began slaughtering them

      There are numerous other examples from Africa and particularly the Holocaust in which old friends and pals killed their neighbors. Obviously, this is not the rule around the world, but in emotionally laden conflicts where the external situation suddenly changes, the old animosities can come out. As Max pointed out above, there were a LOT of contacts between Jews and West Bank-Gaza Palestnians before 1988 and they were all broken. Some are just now being restored. We’ll have to see how things develop.
      I do agree that ALL Israelis MUST learn Arabic…Israel is in the Middle East, not Europe and we should stop pretending otherwise.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Ben Israel

      Regarding JVP’ and Rosen’s recommendation for an “international peace keeping force”….well, all I can say was that from 1918-1948 that’s what we had here….a “neutral” British peacekeeping force. They failed miserably. We all know about the famous Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenice who stood aside as a massacre took place…”didn’t want to get involved”.
      Does Rosen want us to trust our fate to that?

      Reply to Comment
    27. Rhona, Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y.

      If you don’t understand that is it people to people that will cure what ails us, that it is face to face with the desire for peace that will cure wars, that when you have had bad words or feelings with someone, it is only you who can change the bad to good, only you who can right the wrong.

      I too hope that people will stop worrying about who ate kosher, or did not.

      We are all the same. We are one. We all come from the same place.

      Come on people, we need peace. Thank you to those who participated in this. Bless you

      Reply to Comment
    28. Philos

      Ben Israel. While purporting to not be an expert on Northern Ireland you seem to think you’re an expert on Franco-German relations and on genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda and sectarian conflict in Iraq.
      Let me clear some issues for you up so your distortions won’t confuse anyone here.
      German defeat did not guarantee Germany peaceableness especially since the vast majority of Nazis who were in power before their defeat reminded in power after their defeat. Look at the formation of the West German Army or the German courts if you don’t believe me. What helped create peace were brave politicians from both France and Germany who pursued dialogue at several levels top-down. Today if you said to a Frenchmen or German that there will be war between them they will laugh at you.
      That said, is it possible for their to be war between French and Germans? Yes, if the processes of demonization that took place in Yugoslavia occurred.
      After the death of Tito certain Yugoslavian populations took advantage of their ethnicity to get ahead like Milosovic. For almost six or seven years before the outbreak of the war Serbian airwaves, billboards and newspapers had been filled with hate-filled propaganda about Serbian “purity” and their “historical claims to the land” from the “Turkish [Bosnian] invaders” and so on. The genocide in Yugoslavia did not occur in a vacuum Ben Israel. The same process pretty much happened in Rwanda as well.
      Finally, Iraq shows us an excellent example to prove the rule discovered by academics; that a tiny minority of violent thugs inflict a lot of awful violence and poison relations between former neighbours. Although Serbian airwaves were poisoned by hate propaganda it was only a small minority of fighters that perpetrated the ethnic violence; in Iraq it is a handful of fanatic Sunnis and Shiites that have murdered all those poor people. It’s a tiny handful of settlers that burn fields and beat up Palestinians. It’s only small groups of Hamas terrorists that murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians.
      To kill is surprisingly easy to do. To build, to create dialouge, to even build a temporary “Orwellian wall” to keep the thugs away from each other so ordinary citizens can keep peace with their neighbours, to lower your guard and put out your hand takes years and years and years of work.
      Ben Israel, you proclaimed wisdom is nothing but fear, and I’d even go so far to say as moral cowardice, based on nothing but historical hearsay and a profoundly dark view of human nature not rooted in the empirical evidence.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Philos

      Typo: it should be: “certain Yugoslavian politicians” and not “populations”
      Sorry

      Reply to Comment
    30. Ben Israel

      Philos-
      You call it “fear”, we call it “history”. Or call it “empirical evidence” that we saw with our own eyes or felt on our own bodies. We have seen enough threats against us in the past actually carried out to be leery of promises that “this time it will be different”, or “HAMAS and Iran don’t really mean what they say”. We have to assume that they do. That is what events have taught us.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Larry Snider

      Dear Aziz,

      I can only applaud the work you are doing. In 2007 I put together the Delaware Valley Interfaith Delegation to Israel/Palestine and partnered with my friend Leah Green, Director of the Compassionate Listen Project who led us in March 2008 from East Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, to Hebron and overnight stays with Palestinian families to Al Arroub and then onto the settlement of Tekoa and eventually to a two hour meeting with Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. Our group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy and lay leaders returned home to speak to over 150 audiences and to continue to build an evolving Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace here in the Philadelphia area.

      Reply to Comment
    32. richard Allen

      “I do agree that ALL Israelis MUST learn Arabic…Israel is in the Middle East, not Europe and we should stop pretending otherwise.”

      We agree on something!

      Reply to Comment
    33. This is hardly a refugee camp, do you actually look at pictures or just make things up as you go along??

      Reply to Comment
    34. Philos

      Israel Muse, what do you think of sitting in a camp for between 60 to 44 years (depending on their expulsion) you’d remain in squalid conditions? Give these people some credit.

      Reply to Comment
    35. richard Allen

      My thoughts exactly, Philos. They’ve been there a while. Eventually, they’re going to build houses.

      Reply to Comment
    36. sh

      @BI “first real massacre of Jews in Europe occurred BEFORE the crusades in 1066 in Muslim Cordoba in Spain.”

      a) it wasn’t the first massacre of Jews in Europe
      b) it happened in Granada.

      “IT is true that there weren’t as many outright massacres,”
      Not nearly as many. Didn’t come close.

      “but Jews were looked down on by the Muslim population”
      Shame. Catholics looked down upon by Protestants, Muslims looked down upon by Jews, Arabs looked down upon by Jews, Christians looked down upon by Jews, and all that viced and versaed to boot. Then, to top it all, sephardim looked down upon by ashkenazim as well (& vice-versa too). What a world!

      Reply to Comment
    37. Sarah Netofi

      Unfortunately, Saeed Hotary enunciates the desire of the Palestinian leadership and what they teach now, and have taught, their populace for years: to expel the Jews. Individual hospitality and friendliness is a long-standing and admirable Arab tradition but does not change the world view of the majority of Arabs who lament a sovereign Jewish state regardless of the borders.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Stuart

      We were recently in Israel this April and May for Pesach ie Passover. At one point we visited the Westbank or Judaia and Samaria as some prefer to call it. We had organized to go with a rather experienced Jewish guide on a day trip in the area. However, on the morning of the tour, we receive a phone call that the guide needs to cancel the trip because he unfortunately was required to organise the funeral arrangements of a young relative who had just been murdered by the Palestinians. The murdered young man was amongst a group of fellow Breslav Chasidism (harmless religious sect which is given to much ecstatic dancing like the whirling dervishs or the Hurri Christeners) who had visited Joseph’s Tomb in Palestinian Authority controlled  (Nablus) to pray. No sooner had the Breslav van left the Palestinian controlled checkpoint than Palestinian Authority gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on it murdering the young relative of our guide!

      There are many lessons we can draw from this but one thing is pretty clear.. Jews need to control their own religious sites because the goodwill of Arab neighbours can never be guaranteed!

      Reply to Comment
    39. 5ftflirt

      Is this is the level of political naivete and ignorance we are dealing with?

      “it is precisely because of dialogue groups and contact between people on both sides of the border why there is no conflict between France and Germany today.”

      No it is not. “Dialogue groups” have had nothing to do with relations between France and Germany today, nor at any other time. None. Sorry, it didn’t happen.

      “It makes little sense to speak hypothetically but if Germans and French had known each other better than they did at the beginning of the 19th century, German men might have been unwilling to take up arms and invade France.”

      Do you mean the beginning of the 20th century? Just which war are you talking about? “German men” didn’t just decide to invade France. Leaders of all those countries made certain decisions based on their perceived interests at the time. The soldiers obeyed their orders. You want to blame the leaders, go read some history and find out why they made the decisions they did.

      “The fact that they didn’t know anyone on the other side made it much easier for army recruiters to mobilize.”

      Why do you assume no one knew anyone on the other side? Why don’t you find out if each army was volunteer or conscripted?

      No wonder you guys are such useful idiots. You don’t know anything and you dont’ even know what you don’t know. So you can’t apply any institutional wisdom to interpreting what you are experiencing now. Go look up the phrase “useful idiot” and who said it in what context, then look in the mirror.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Vickie

      Dear Aziz:

      Kudos on the valiant effort to try to humanize Palestinians for Israelis.
      However, based on the comments on this board, it is obvious to see that many Israelis indeed see us as an inferior race, if not an inferior life form. I read the articles at 972+ Magazine because the purpose at this magazine, the outlook of its columnists, make me believe that one day, we can be as one. We can fight about politics and representation and other things…but that we, Palestinians and Israelis can live together in relative peace and security. Perhaps I a mistaken, but I see that mission in all the writers at 972+.
      And then I read with sadness the responses. It is nothing more than hatred spewed in pretty morphemes.
      And I am sure, they will read this and then say something about this Palestinian guy who was hateful, or that Nazi sympathizer that wrote horrible things. Here’s what I have to say to those who would rationalize their racist speech.
      What have you done to make things better?
      When have you stepped outside of your comfort zone?
      You guys struggle so hard to prove your point, you miss it. This isn’t about an arbitrary line in the sand created by this colonizing force, or the one before, or the one before that.
      This is about the future of our children, the future of their children…and whether they will look at us with respect, or spit in our faces for leaving them with such a crappy legacy.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Vickie

      Stuart–That is the most pathetic use of propaganda I have ever heard.

      Really? That’s what you’ve got? I am sorry for the loss of any life, but do you really presume to preach about loss of life between Palestinians and Israelis? For every one life story you can tell, there are at least 40 Palestinians whose story will never be heard. That’s a 40:1 ratio. And you want to talk about loss of life. Have you seen a “blue baby”? Go see one in Gaza, and then tell me about loss of life.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Kyle O.

      Rabbi Rosen, I am a fairly frequent commenter on +972 blog postings, but reading this one makes me smile bigger than any other I’ve seen yet. I am local (Des Plaines) and would love the opportunity to shake your hand and discuss your trip. I am not Jewish nor Muslim, but am nonetheless very interested to hear more.

      Reply to Comment
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