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October 27, 1995 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-10-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Bridging The Conflicts
At Women's Institute

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

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f women ran the world, dis-
cussions on Middle East peace
might begin with points of
shared concern: Men. Educa-
tion. Domestic violence.
More than 300 women ad-
dressed such topics last week at
Adat Shalom Synagogue, site of
Women's Joint Institute Day, an
event seeking to unite Arab and
Jew while bringing metro Detroit
women into an
arena where
they can make
a difference.
Four pan-
elists — two
Jewish and
two Arab Is-
raelis — de-
scribed their
work toward
peaceful coex-

Aida Touma-Soliman, an Arab
who has established battered-
women shelters in Israel and co-
ordinates a Jewish-Arab group
of women supporting democracy.
"I cannot just sit down and wait
for someone else to do the job.
There's no other way to live this
life."
The first annual Women's
Joint Institute Day was spon-
sored by six
local organi-
zations that
pooled re-

PHOTOS BY GLENN TRIEST

Right: Shira
Drissman pickets
outside Adat
Shalom.

Below: Freda
Kousky and Trudy
Kurtz participate
in the Institute.

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small size, there are Jews who
don't understand Arabs; perhaps
they've never even met an Arab,
she said. There are Arabs who
never associate with Jews.
"Bring people together," Ms.
Mendelson insisted. "Bring them
knowledge of each other and try
to slay the dragons."
Ilana Felsenthal, a Jewish ed-
ucator, has worked with Arab col-
leagues to develop new curricula
stressing democratic values.
Maysoon Nasser, an Arab, also
talked about how education can

istence. The successful route,
they said, begins with people who
acknowledge their agreement on
certain issues. It continues with
rational debate and steps toward
common goals.
Small steps are better than no
steps at all, the panelists told the
crowd.
"I do it for myself, for my chil-
dren, for my community," said

sources to fly the panelists in
from overseas. Murray Feldman
of WJBK-TV2 moderated the dis-
cussions.
In Israel, tensions are high,
said panelist Josie Mendelson, a
Jew who created a program in-
tegrating Arab and Jewish
kindergartners. Ms. Mendelson
says many people in Israel are
xenophobic. Despite the coinatry's

impact the new Colette Avital
generation's tol- addresses the
crowd.
erance level.
Panelists and
audience members drew com-
parisons between controversies
in the United States and those
prevailing in Israel. On a lighter
note, they joked about men and
housework — two concerns
they very much share.
"Women still have to strug-
gle within themselves. It means
sometimes you have to argue
with that husband of yours on
those little things — even
though you really believe that
deep down he is open-minded
and you really respect him," Ms.
Soliman said as the audience
laughed.
"Why do I get the feeling you
know what I'm talking about?"
she queried.
The Women's Joint Institute
Day, which took place Oct. 19,
also featured Colette Avital, Is-
rael's highest-ranking woman
diplomat in the United States, as
well as Joan Bronk and Alan
Slifka of the Abraham Fund, sup-
porting international programs
aimed at peaceful coexistence.
Comparisons between the
United States and Israel ex-
tended beyond the topic of men
to include problems among

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