Friday, April 30, 2010

Peace From the Bottom Up?

Joseph Puder
28 April '10

Kedumim, Samaria, West Bank, Israel …

Turning off the Trans-Israel Highway Six onto Route 55 – the Kalqilya-Nablus highway, we pass through numerous Arab-Palestinian villages. At Azzun, Laqef, and Funduk our car intermingles with Arab-Palestinian cars bearing green license plates with the letter P for Palestine in English as well as the Arabic for Filestin. At Funduk, we drive through the main street and we are greeted with a friendly hand wave by children and adults. We take note of Jewish “settlers” with helmet-like skullcaps making their way in and out of local Arab stores – with signs in both Arabic and Hebrew.

Driving along in total normalcy you tend to forget that this part of the world is so maligned for violence and hate. You come to realize that hatred and violence is not natural to the Palestinian-Arabs nor is it a part of the value system of the Jews who live in the communities cum “settlers” in Judea and Samaria . In this part of the country, the countryside of Samaria exudes an air of normalcy that seems to pervade the hilltop communities of both Arabs and Jews.

But then you read in Israel Today (April 6, 2010) that Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has ordered Arab-Palestinians not to purchase Israeli goods from “settlers” and that Palestinian Authority (PA) police raided and confiscated goods bought by local Palestinian-Arabs from their neighbors – the Jewish “settlers”, and realize that the hatred and violence is being ordered and carried out from above by Salam Fayyad’s government. The incitement against Jews is disseminated by the PA through the Palestinian media, schools, and mosques, a reality not reported by the New York Times or BBC.

Raphaella Segal, deputy-Mayor of Kedumim, and its chief spokesperson, as well as a mother of nine is a youthful and energetic grandmother who describes life in Samaria before the 1993 Oslo Accords: “We in the Kedumim community would shop in all the nearby Arab villages. We became close friends with many of our Arab neighbors, and they would come to Kedumim to celebrate with us personal events such as weddings, births and bar Mitzvahs, and we did the same. We participated in their religious holidays as they did in ours. Many from the neighboring Arab villages of Kfar Kadum and Jit worked in Kedumim.” She then added with pathos in her voice, “We got along fine before Arafat and the politicians took over.”

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