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January 09, 1987 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-09

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"is inevitably built on a basis of
ideological affinity."
Dr. Alouph Hareven, a former senior
Israeli military intelligence officer who
now designs and coordinates innovative
educational programs to enhance under-
standing between Jews and Arabs,
emphasizes that "the essential relation-
ship between Israelis and Palestinians
is that of ruler and ruled.
"That makes any contact extremely
difficult," he says, citing one recent at-
tempt to arrange cooperation between
Israeli academics and their
counterparts at the Palesti-
nian Bir Zeit University on
the West Bank.
The invitation was flatly re-
jected, not by the Israelis but
by the Palestinians: "They
said, 'Look, we can't par-
ticipate because as long as
you are the occupiers, the
relationship is not an equal
one and our cooperation
would imply some degree of
acquiescence in the existing
In fact, however, above the
sound of chanting Palesti-
nian students and the chatter
of responding Israeli machine-
guns, friendships have been
forged between Israelis and
Palestinians. Often fragile,
self-conscious and loaded
with a large measure of
political compatibility, such
relationships are the rare
Hatem Abu-Ghazala and
Alouph Hareven, who live
less than 100 kilometres
apart, did not have to go to
Switzerland to meet at a con-
ference on conflict resolution
organized by the American
Association of Psychiatrists,
but it probably helped. Now,
three years later, they remain
firm friends.
For Abu-Ghazala, a precondition of
friendship is that the Israeli "under-
stands the situation of the Palestinians
and seeks the same rights for Palestin-
ians as he himself enjoys."
The Gaza surgeon, who is politically
active but independent of major Arab
or Jewish political power blocs, would
welcome more relationships with
Israelis — but not everyone, he says,
"has as much understanding as Alouph
"Basically, I find Israelis are of two
types. The first immediately goes onto
the defensive, and with him I quickly
reduce contact. The second is open,
he wants to learn more about Palestinian

problems and realities, but sometimes I
have been terribly disappointed.
"I have struck up relationships with
Israeli Jews only to find that the person
doesn't have the courage of his convic-
Abu-Ghazala rules out the possibility,
for example, of friendship with a Jewish
settler in Gaza: "I cannot tolerate these
people at all. They are the real intruders,
the real obstacle to peace.
"Gaza is already so terribly over-
crowded and when I see these citizens

• .**\\*

of Brooklyn...No, I have no friendships
with them and I don't think I ever will.
"But with those who think they can
realize their Zionism within the Green
Line, there is certainly the possibility of
warm and lasting friendship."
Hareven, who describes his Gaza
friend as "a courageous and outspoken
man," has a wide network of friendships
and contacts among both Palestinians
and Israeli Arabs. He believes strongly
that the relationships that exist be-
tween Jews and Arabs are at least
symbolically important.
"Our situation is still far better than
that of Northern Ireland, where polar-
ization is so complete that people who
used to meet no longer do so. Here, the

forces of sanity still survive."
Most Jewish Israelis, however, have
no contact whatever with Arabs other
than with those who enter Jewish
neighborhoods each day to labour in
Jewish enterprises, clean away the
trash, tend the municipal parks and
gardens, and work in stores and super-
The social, cultural, political, linguistic,
religious barriers are simply too great
to overcome.
"I've gone out of my way to make


An armed Israeli soldier patrols
the Gaza marketplace, where
demonstrations have offered
testimony to the tensions
between Jews and Arabs.


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