Conflict & Justice

Mideast dialogue report

This man lives in Israel's largest settlement just outside Jerusalem. He believes the West Bank belongs to Israel and always will and he has no interest in giving land to Palestinians, but he's doing something most settlers don't do: he's sitting down with a group of Palestinians. It's not something he's entirely comfortable talking about and he admits he hasn't told his friends and family that he's even doing this. This man heads the organization that came up with the idea for monthly meeting with one ground rule: no talking about politics. So instead he asks them to focus on another potential flashpoint: their faith, because he believes the two sides can find common ground by talking about their faiths. Still it's not easy. Consider this man, a Palestinian teacher from Janine, an embattled town in the West Bank. Before one meeting, he told me he hated Israeli settlers. But he says he felt compelled to seek out his enemies after receiving treatment for cancer at an Israeli hospital. The second meeting of the organization takes place in this settlement and everything starts out fine. Still the settlers seem uneasy. The organizer admits they're not likely to bring about mid-East peace with their conversation, but he adds it's a start.

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