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July 11, 2003 - Image 51

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-11

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Providing Health Care and Disease Prevention

A friendly
greeting between
Wadad Abed
and Laurie
White, both
of Ann Arbor.


Announcing the Opening o


With the recent Palestinian terror
and Israel's response, Abed reached
out to Pollack, telling her "if there
ever was a time we needed to dia-
logue, it's now."
Thanks to Pollack, also of Ann
Abor, Abed got a call a month later
from Irene Butter, a University of
Michigan professor emeritus of pub-
lic health. Pollack put the two in
touch. With a daughter, son-in-law
and grandchildren in Israel, Butter
also felt the need to talk and do
something for peace in the Middle
They gathered others, and as the
group grew, they made sure there
were equal numbers of Arab and
Jewish women. Together, they all
worked to develop a process and a
structure that would allow open
expression of their thoughts, fears
and pains.
"We use dialogue, not debate,"
White says.
To build trust, group members first
talked about their personal stories,
"our individual narratives, not just
those of our people," Abed says.
"We had to be as honest as possi-
ble, even if it rubbed someone the
wrong way," she says. "If there were
differences, we'd utilize dialogue."

Opposing Takes

To Hadad, raised Roman Catholic
and a second-generation American,
"there are two narratives regarding
Middle East history."
"The Jews were persecuted in
Europe and saw Israel, or Palestine
— what it was called before the state
was formed — as the vehicle for
their liberation," she says. "And given
their biblical attachment to the land,
that's very real.
"Another real narrative is that

many then came to a land and dis-
placed the existing population. Each
side needs to understand the other's
narrative for a meeting of the minds
on the Middle East conflict. And the
greatest obstacle to peace is that both
sides, to some extent, demonize each
After meeting for several months,
the women decided to have a retreat,
a weekend to put together their mis-
sion statement and formalize guiding
"I came away feeling energized.
There's a discovery process happen-
ing to each in the group," says Jewish
member Manya Arond-Thomas, 53,
of Ypsilanti, an executive coach and
organizational consultant.
"I was high for days by what we
had achieved together," Abed says.
The group credits Arond-Thomas
for guiding the process to such a
high level.
"We learn to engage in conversa-
tions without judgment," she says.
"We also learn how to examine our
Their resulting mission statement
reads: "To embody and promote the
peaceful and just coexistence of the
Arab and Jewish peoples through
connection, trust, empathy and
actions focused on the creation of a
sustainable future for Palestine and

Hearing The Unhearable

Zeitouna's hard work yielded impres-
sive results.
Issues never before acknowledged
by group members were discussed at
their meetings. Arab members for the
first time could listen to stories about
the Holocaust, and Jews heard about

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