Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Meeting Our Partners in Peace

I know that I am not the only Zionist who has sometimes asked the question “Where are Israel’s partners for peace?”. Reading a steady stream of headlines and articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s easy to wonder where the Palestinians who are willing to talk and listen can be found. Still, I have always assumed that once you get past the Palestinian leadership, there are people on the street who want peace as much as Israeli citizens do. I must admit that I sometimes wonder whether all of those who ask the question, are really interested in meeting and hearing from those partners, or whether the question is just a way of seeing the Palestinians as a faceless other and deflecting the need to listen. In writing this, I hope to give people the chance to meet, hear from and talk with Palestinians who also believe in dialogue.

I recently wrote about the opportunity that I had to hear from Ali Abu Awwad, the co-founder of Roots, a West Bank based organization dedicated to peaceful dialogue,  at a local Reconstructionist temple. I wondered why it was that I had not had the opportunity to hear from those like Awaad in any Orthodox institutions. After the event, I discovered that my friend Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, who lives in Alon Shvut, was one of the co-founders of Roots. When I reached out to him, he told me that he had been unsuccessful in finding Orthodox institutions in the US and Canada that were willing to host a Roots event. I expressed my hope that this was just an aberration, and that I was interested in serving as a matchmaker of sorts, and helping to identify Orthodox shuls and schools that would host such an event.

In May 2015, Awwad and Schlesinger will be coming back to North America to speak about Roots and the real progress that they are making in creating meaningful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. They will be in the States through early June. If you believe in dialogue and are interested in hearing from a legitimate partner for peace, please do not what you can to bring Awwad to speak in your community. Although my focus in this post is on the Orthodox community, I encourage people from all walks of Jewish life to take advantage of this special opportunity. There are real partners for peace who want to talk. Please join the conversation.

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