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July 11, 2003 - Image 52

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

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

Come see what all the Jazz is about

at THE FOUNTAINS AT FRANKLIN

We can jazz up your life ...

REFUSING To BE ENEMIES from page 51

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(248) 353-2810

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52

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Donations to Israel.

co„
Johanna Epstein, Manya Arond-Thomas and Rabia Shafie view Palestinian
embroideries before their meeting begins.

the Nakbah, the Arabic word for
catastrophe, used to describe Israel's
Independence Day as a Jewish state
(May 14, 1948); Palestinian Arabs in
Israel were given refuge in United
Nations camps.
"That catastrophe lives with us
every single day," says Shafie. "It's
when our society began to be
destroyed."
Abed says, at first, she would not
hear about the Holocaust because her
belief was that the Holocaust was the
reason used to justify taking away her
homeland. Then, as part of her per-
sonal growth, she realized the
Holocaust was something she had to
deal with. Because of her experience
with Butter, she says, she is reading
other personal Holocaust accounts.
"I love this human being who has
this horrendous experience and comes
out the other end with so much love
and wisdom," Abed says. "She repre-
sents a person who has dealt with
ugliness and turned it into beauty
and hope."
Still, it has taken the group almost a
year to begin to hear each other's sto-
ries, and the discussion that follows.
Says Abed, "I'm beginning to
understand the fear and concerns
Jews have. It's a legitimate feeling of
being subjected to one atrocity after
another throughout the world."
She now accepts Israel's right to
exist, she says.
The Jewish women, in turn, learned
about Abed's emotional pain when
they talked about going to Israel.
"American women talk about moving
or living in Israel for a while and that

upsets me," Abed says. "All Jews —
from the United States, Russia and
Europe — can have automatic citizen-
ship in Israel, and I can't. Yet my family
goes back for several generations there."

Open Hearts And Minds

"The future of peace will fall upon
people like us," White says.
"We are each other's destiny.
Neither Arabs nor Jews are going
away. Our futures are so entwined.
We need to start building for our
children and our grandchildren,"
Abed says.
And while the women in Zeitouna
find it difficult to get excited about
the current peace efforts — pained by
past failures like the Oslo accords —
they all express hope for the future
when it comes to their group. They
are planning a trip together to the
Palestinian-administered territories
and to Israel next year.
"Women are doers, the key to
peace," says Shafie. "And Zeitouna
can be an example of how people can
share and live together.
When asked what's unique about the
group, she says, "We're so much alike."
"I hope we inspire other groups like
ours to create a place of sanity where
people with similar feelings and pas-
sions can meet," Epstein says.
Abed dreams of many Zeitouna
groups that eventually form a solid
base for peace.
"The draw of this group is comfort
and commonality," White says. "We
came together with open hearts and
minds."

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