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January 31, 2003 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

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

"You could also see that Israel has a
water problem. You could see perfect-
ly square reservoirs all over trying to
catch every drop of water."
And the view from air and land
impressed him with the beauty of the
country and its worth as a tourist
destination.
"Scenically speaking, Israel is much
prettier than I expected,"
Dzwonkowski said. "The landscape
and scenery in the countryside is
spectacular. The Old City in
Jerusalem was just one of those places
that looked exactly like you expected
it to look. There are so many interest-
ing, fascinating, beautiful things to
see. History, architecture, anthropolo-
gy, archeology; you can find it there
in a compact space.
"I need to come [back to Israel]
with my family when I'm not work-
ing," he said. "It is a place that every-
one in the world should visit. I hope
the day comes soon when everyone
will feel secure in visiting."
Finley also was favorably impressed
by what he saw.
"It is a remarkable country in
regards of what the people have been
able to accomplish in such a short
time. It's a fascinating mix of history
and a hyper-modern culture," he
observed.
In contrast, he found his visit to
Jericho and other places in the "terri-
tories" to be "very sad, depressing."
"Like every other people, on the
surface, [the Palestinians he met] said
the same things as the Israelis, they
want peace. But they are at the mercy
of their leaders. There is no good in
this for them, and no good in this for
the Israelis."

attuned they are to U.S. foreign poli-
cy. They recognized and valued the
special relationship between the two
countries."
He was also favorably impressed
with the "very vigorous" Israeli
media.
"As a newspaperman, I found it
very heartening," he said.
"Newspapers are very much part of
the discussion. There is an intense
interest and devotion to newspapers,
and there is an encouraging amount
of variation in the opinions. All polit-
ical spectrums are represented."
Meriwether was impressed by the
"robust exchange of ideas and no-
holds barred coverage of all the
issues."
He met with staff at Israel's
Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post Publisher
Amos Schocken as well as the editor
of the Palestinian English-language
paper the Jerusalem Times.
"I found very, very interesting stuff
in the papers," he said. "There really
is freedom of the press. Israel has a
vibrant, democratic press obviously in
contrast to things I have a sense of in
the Palestinian media. The Israeli
people are so much more engaged in
their politics and government that we
are as Americans. They are very
attuned to what is going on."
Besides a better understanding of
the people of Israel and political and
social issues, another agenda of the
trip was to show the connections
between the Jewish community and
Israel, as facilitated by the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
JCCouncil is Federation's advocacy
arm.

Above:
Nazareth hlit Deputy Mayor
Edna Rodrig orients Detroit
Free Press Publisher Heath
Meriwether, Editorial Editor
Ron Dzwonkowski and the
paper's legal advisor, attorney
Herschel Fink, on the Nazareth
region from a municipal roof.

Left..
Free Press Publisher Heath
Meriwether interviews a victim
of a recent terror attack at
HaEmek Hospital in Afula.

Detroit Connection

Life Goes On

While Finley saw the devastating eco-
nomic impact of the lack of tourism
in Jericho, Jaffa and Jerusalem, he
was heartened by the "remarkable
attitude of the people" in Israel.
"They are defiant in the attitude
that terror won't alter their lives, but
when you talk with them, you find
they do do things differently because
of the terror. But they had a good
sense of humor, it wasn't a dark
place."
Many Israelis were preoccupied
with the Jan. 28 election, hoping it
would provide a path to peace.
"They are not convinced Ariel
Sharon is the answer, but are sure
that capitulation is not the answer,"
Finley said. "One of the impressions
that surprised me a bit is how

"It was impressive to see how the
people of this community are reach-
ing out halfway across the world to
help out people in a very troubled
world," Finley said.
"We saw clearly how Detroit is
connected to Israel," said
Dzwonkowski. "There is a lot of
Detroit money that is going to people
doing good work in Israel," referring
specifically to the PACT [Parents and
Children Together] program in
Netanya that helps with the absorp-
tion, of Ethiopian immigrants.
He also was impressed by an Israeli
Arab woman he met at the Yedid pro-
gram, which assists marginalized pop-
ulations. "She said she didn't want to
come to the Center. 'I didn't think
Jewish people would help me,' she
said. Now she volunteers for Yedid

doing outreach. We learned the
Federation is involved in peaceful
constructive efforts to help people
live together."
David Gad-Harf thought the visit
was a useful for everyone.
"We heard over and over that Israel
has no partner for peace," he said.
"We heard about the damaging
impact of the media and the educa-
tional system in the Palestinian and
Arab world in fueling hatred of Israel
and Jews."
"The trip was not intended to have
them meet with high-level govern-
ment officials nor did they want to,
explained Gad-Harf. "They wanted

"

to get a sense of how ordinary Israelis
are reacting to terror and learn if they
have any hope in the future. I think
they got the overwhelming message
that the terror must stop before any
progress can be made, andYasser
Arafat has got to go."
Dzwonkowski summed it up.
"In spite of all its internal differ-
ences, Israel may have achieved more
of the melting pot than we have in
the United States," he said. "But
security is clearly the dominant issue.
There seemed to be agreement that
they needed to secure the country
before they can wrestle with the other
issues they need to."

JN



1/31

2003

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