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Local Jewish, Palestinian communities weigh in on ongoing conflict

Published: Thu, July 17, 2014 @ 12:10 a.m.

Members of Jewish and Palestinian communities discuss ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict


By Jordyn Grzelewski



As another day of shelling in Gaza killed four children in ongoing conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas, leaders of the Valley πs Jewish and Palestinian communities were divided on an acceptable solution to the decades-old conflict.

Hanna Kassis, 28, a Palestinian-American who represents the Arab- American Community Center of Youngstown, said that many members of the Palestinian community, both in the Valley and in Palestine, no longer care about official recognition of a Palestinian state and instead seek better treatment from the Israeli government.

“Regardless of what it’s called, regardless of what the flag looks like, regardless of what religion the people are, regardless of where they’re from or what they believe in, we don’t care,” Kassis said. “All we want is humanity and for civil rights to prevail.”

Kassis said that many Palestinians of his generation are coming around to the idea of a one-state solution, in which Palestinians would be integrated into Israeli society.

But Bonnie Burdman, spokeswoman for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, disagreed, saying that a two-state solution is the only acceptable outcome. The ideal solution is “A free Palestine, living side-by-side next to a fully recognized Jewish state of Israel, with a Palestinian state not compromised by terror,” she said.

“Anything short of that does a disservice not just to the Israelis living in the region, but all citizens of the region, including Palestinians,” Burdman said.

Elad Strohmayer, deputy consul general to the mid-Atlantic region for the Israeli government, agreed, saying a two-state solution is the only answer because of the hard line taken by Hamas.

“They need to recognize that we’re here to stay. Hamas doesn’t recognize that,” Strohmayer said.

Burdman’s comments focused mainly on Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Hamas.

According to Kassis, however, at the heart of the issue is the occupation of the West Bank by Israeli settlers. Kassis has dozens of family members who live in the West Bank, and said they face discrimination and danger at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers on a daily basis.

“It’s not a land war anymore, like people think. People think it’s turf war. That’s 20th century. It’s a civil- and human-rights war. That’s what the Palestinians want,” Kassis said.

“A lot of young Palestinians in Palestine are saying, ‘You know what, Israel, after 66 years, you can have the water, you can have the land, you can have our beaches, you can have Jerusalem, you can have the food, you can have our swear words,’” Kassis said.

“But we come with it all. That’s the mentality that’s starting to prevail in Palestine. You can have it all, but we come with it.”

Strohmayer said, however, “Any human-rights concerns in Gaza or the West Bank is because of Hamas firing rockets indiscriminately toward Israel.”

Kassis said that while personal relationships between Jews and Arabs in the Valley are congenial, members of the Jewish establishment here have not responded to attempts at a more-open dialogue between the two communities.

“The Arab community here has consistently called upon the Jewish Community Center to recognize human and civil rights for all Israelis and all Palestinians,” Kassis said.

“We’ve invited them to debate us. They refuse. We have sent them open invitations to join hands, we’ve had cultural nights — they’ve refused to show up.”

Burdman said that while the two communities do not agree on the Israel-Palestine conflict, there is a good rapport between the local Jewish and Arab communities.


1iBuck(231 comments)posted 2 years ago

There are already, de facto, 2 states: Gaza=Palestine and Israel. Israelis accept the Palestinians. But the Palestinians, PLO, PA, Hamas+Fatah and now ISIL have declared their intent to eliminate all of Israel, establishing a caliphate from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean (only the Sunni vs. Shia feud prevents them from aiming to make it from Persia/Iran through Egypt in the short term)... and eventually a one-world caliphate.

After studying the historical maps and reading the news, I think the Palestinians who don't want to live peacefully in Israel should move out of eastern Israel back to Palestine=Gaza, and the Israelis should generously grant an expansion of Palestine=Gaza's bounds within reason... especially toward the south, but away from Israel's natural gas lines, railroads and such, and in any case inland from the Mediterranean, so long as Egypt is accepting of a broader border with Palestine. Of course, peaceful Palestinians are already granted the privilege of living throughout Israel if they so choose.

Israel already ceded historical parts of Israel to Jordan to the east and Syria and Lebanon to the north.

Gaza=Palestine should spend more of their aid to build wells, desalinization plants, irrigation pipe-lines, farms and housing... and a lot less on tunnels and rockets to attack Israel and Egypt.

Genetically/DNA-wise, after several thousands of years of intermarriages, the Israelis and Palestinians are almost all not-that-distant cousins, but then, historically, feuds between/among cousins have been frequent (Duncan, MacBeth, Malcolm iii; John Baliol vs. Robert de Brus; John Murray lord Dunmore vs. Robert Hanna from about 1600 through 1781; the sheriffs Agnew vs. lords Kennedy; the mostly Presbyterian Irish-Scottish-Irish vs. the Catholic southern Irish; Nicky & Willy & Victoria (Russia & Germany & England); Ukraine, Russia; good Wenceslaus and his brother cruel Boleslav; the USA vs. CSA featured many brothers and cousins split between the sides...).

It was the Romans who applied the general label of Palestine to what then were Palestine, Judea and Israel plus most of what is now Lebanon and part of what is now Syria (the Assyrians/Ashurians had been further north). Then again, for the sake of more context and completeness, the biblical bounds had the land promised to the sons of Israel stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile, which they never effectively held though Israelis did travel back and forth through that region to carry out trade, and I just don't see the Israelis even wanting that. Then again, when the sons of Israel arrived the Palestinians/Philistines were relative new-comers from the Greek islands who had invaded the Canaanites' lands. Before the Romans came through, the Phoenicians (who may have come from the same Greek islands) held the area north of Israel along the sea, plus Carthage/Tunisia/Punicia/African Phoenicia for a time.

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