Minutes of Meeting

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Date: February 9, 1992

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall

Meeting Topic: Dialogue Between Jews and Arabs in Israel

Facilitator: Sarah Ozacky, Visiting Professor of History, Wilberforce University

Hosts: Steve and Sophie Kahn

MEMBERS PRESENT: Jerry & Lorraine Kotler, Cochairs; Bertram Brant, Bert Buby, Glenn Duckwall, Phyllis Duckwall, Eric Friedland, Phil Hoelle, Sophie Kahn, Stephen Kahn, Jane Kimpan, Carrie LaBriola, Bob Mass, Shirley McKee, Ruth Precker, Bill Rain, Ken Rosenzweig, Louis Ryterband, Harold Silverman, Dieter Walk, Susie Walk, Murray Weisman.

GUESTS PRESENT: Joyce Adler, Ory Adler, Teresa Batsche, Uta Battels, Anna Bellisarianna (Wright State Univ.), Dene Berman, Jennifer Davis-Berman, Elizabeth Burks, Christopher Capoano, Seriad Dajan (Antioch College), Stephen Doyle, Tuhfeh Habash (Wilberforce Univ.), Bella Konikora, Sarah Ozacky-Lazar, Uri Ozacky, Michael Lindsay, Judith Martin, Naida Sutch, Don Wallick, Marianne Weisman.

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 PM. Sophie Kahn delivered a beautiful prayer that dealt with the hope for peace.

Steve Kahn pointed out a correction of the January minutes: he and Sophie were not in attendance.

Jerry announced the retreat next month in Grailville. The price for attendance is $15 which includes the evening meal. (See the Dues and Fee Announcement at the end of these minutes.)

Carrie announced the important program being held at the University of Dayton Kennedy Union on March 3, Intractable Conflicts and the Potential for Peacemaking: The Middle East in the 1990s. The program is cosponsored by The National Conference of Christians and Jews, The Jewish Community Relations Council, The University of Dayton, and several other worthwhile organizations. Afternoon events will begin at 3 PM and there will be an evening panel discussion. Call 229-3514 for details. Secretary's Note: The University of Dayton Russian Music Festival which will take place on March 3, 5, 8, and 12 under the artistic direction of Viktor Polonsky opens with its first concert at 8:00 PM, March 3, in Kennedy Union Boll Theater. The concert will feature pianist Viktor Polonsky and clarinetist Eugene Marquis. The Festival is free and open to the public, and all are cordially invited to attend. For further information, contact Bonnie Rosenzweig at 298-7140.

Malcolm Gillespie introduced the evening speaker, Sarah Ozacky. Sarah is currently a Visiting Professor of History at Wilberforce University where she is teaching 3 courses. She is on leave from her permanent position as Associate Director, Institute for Arabic Studies, Givat Haviva in Israel. Sarah began her talk at about 8 PM by telling the attenders about her organization, Givat Haviva. It was established in 1949 and was named after a victim of the Holocaust who lived in the area around the Institute. The Institute for Arabic Studies is only one of several institutes at Givat Haviva. Others are concerned with Kibbutz life, the Holocaust and resistance to it, Hebrew Ulpan (language school), and Archives and Library. Givat Haviva spans 50 acres.

Sarah then focused on the Institute for Arabic Studies by talking about the Palestinian community in Israel. After the Israeli war of independence concluded in 1948, 160,000 Arabs remained in Israel. The Institute was founded soon afterward to promote dialogue between Arabs and Jews. It must be noted that the primary and secondary educational system in Israel is separated into Jewish and Arab schools. Jewish and Arab students do not normally have the opportunity to meet each other. The Institute organizes dialogues between Jewish and Arab high school students. Courses teach Jewish students about Arabic culture and language. There is also a research institute at which Palestinian and Jewish scholars study the history of Jewish-Arab relations from a different perspective; they look for instances of cooperation between Arabs and Jews. Currently there are about 800,000 Israeli Arab citizens who constitute 18% of the Israeli population. The Institute also provides courses for foreign groups (many from the United States) . Sarah concluded her formal presentation by stating that Arabs and Jews are regrettably not ready to live in peace because of the hatred between the groups engendered by years of conflict.

Questions and discussion began at 8:15 PM. Steve Kahn regretted that there are not corresponding Palestinian institutions dedicated to dialogue and peace. Sarah agreed but pointed out there is now a newly emerging Palestinian peace movement. Harold Silverman asked what Prime Minister Shamir thinks of the Institute. Sarah replied that those interested should ask the Prime Minister. In response to a question about how the Institute gets Arab students to participate in its programs, she indicated that the Institute contacts Arab schools. She pointed out that in fact Arabs are more willing to come to the Institute than Jews. The Institute is located in the center of Israel, between Haifa and Tel Aviv, near the Green Line.

A questioner asked about the inequality between Arabs and Jews in Israel and its impact on the Institute's programs. Sarah replied that the Institute deals with any problems of inequality openly; she also pointed out that, as is the case with all societies, there are many forms of inequality in Israel, often not associated with the distinction between Jews and Arabs. Murray asked if the views of Institute members was represented in the Knesset. Sarah replied that although it is affiliated with the Mapam Party (left wing), the Institute is nonpartisan.

Harold asked Sarah's opinions on the Peace Process. Sarah deferred these questions to the end of the discussion to avoid preempting the discussion of the Institute's programs. Eric asked Sarah for an illustration of one specific Institute program. Sarah then described the "Kids Meeting Kids" program which brings together 6th and 7th grade Arab and Jewish children who live in the same neighborhood. Lorraine asked if any of the Jewish participants are religious. Sarah replied that although Kosher food is available, religious schools have generally not sent students to the Institute. In response to a question, Sarah stated that the Institute is growing but the growth is limited.

Sarah observed that recently there has been a growing radicalization of both Jewish and Arab students in Israel. A questioner asked if Jews and Arabs continue to be friends after Institute programs. Sarah said that often individuals and schools continue to meet. Judy asked if the Palestinian alliance with Sadaam Hussein has affected relationships between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Sarah replied that most people have forgotten about the war; they have returned to their original positions regarding Arab-Jewish relations. Steve followed up by asking if children who were confined to sealed rooms have forgotten about the Persian Gulf War? Sarah replied that both Arabs and Jews were confined in sealed rooms. Ken asked if any of the Arab students are from the Territories? Sarah that no students are from the Territories. This is at least partly due to the essential collapse of the educational system in the Territories as a result of the Intifada.

Jerry asked about the degree of acceptance of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict both in 1948 and currently. Sarah indicated that a recent poll indicates that currently 35 to 40% of Israelis are ready for "territorial compromise." In the Palestinian Community, most of the leadership is now in favor of two states but there is considerable dissention about this. Sarah did not know how Palestinian Arabs felt about two states in 1949. Sarah said that a settlement must be reached this year or next. If not, the current moderate Palestinian leadership is likely to be replaced by Hamaas, the Fundamentalist movement. Steve pointed out that most Israelis do not want a territorial compromise. Sarah agreed but regretted the lack of moderate leadership on both sides. Steve asked why it is not right for Jews to live in the Territories, in as much as Arabs live in Israel. Sarah replied that the settlements in the Territories are created for political purposes. Sarah advocated a Palestinian state in the Territories with some border adjustment. Steve disagreed. One of our guests tried to explain the Palestinian rejection of the two-state solution in 1948. She went on to argue that Jews do not have the right to settle in the Territories and that Palestinians do have the right to return to their nation of origin (Israel). Sarah replied that this discussion was a perfect illustration of the problems that arise during dialogue. Sarah further argued that the time is ripe for a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute; the United States is fed up with the intransigence of both sides.

Lorraine asked if anyone affiliated with the Institute can exert influence on the political leadership in Israel. Sarah replied that peace-oriented parties are a minority in the Knesset. In response to a question comparing Israeli military and police actions in the Territories to the Holocaust, Sarah maintained that no comparison between the Holocaust and Israeli actions is appropriate. Sarah was asked about the effect on Israelis of the occupation. She replied that there are some seeds of racism in Israel. Eric asked what American Jews and Palestinians can do to contribute to the solution of the conflict. Sarah replied that Jews who support Israel have the right to question Israeli policies. What happens in Israel can affect American Jews. American Palestinians can also give moderating advice to Arabs in the Middle East. Steve replied that there is a fine line between advice and interference. Sarah replied that personally she would not complain about American interference.

Lou complimented Sarah for being a delightful speaker with a balanced presentation. Jerry thanked both Sarah and Malcolm Gillespie for facilitating the evening's program. The meeting adjourned at about 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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