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DCL hosts local Arabs, Israelis in discussion

November 27, 2000

Watching the news is becoming increasingly difficult for businessman Boulas Ghraib.

A Palestinian, Ghraib said it saddens him to watch TV reports about the violence and conflict that continue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Ghraib joined another Palestinian man and two Israeli men in a discussion at MSU-Detroit College of Law last week. The MSU-DCL Journal of International Law hosted “The Continuing Challenges of Middle East Peace” to allow people to get information from both sides of the issue.

“Discussion is important because we want everyone to know we want peace,” Ghraib said. “I see children with stones fighting in the streets for our freedom and that is when I know it is time for change.”

MSU English Professor Salah Hassan, a Palestinian on the panel, said there is a fundamental inequality that is keeping the peace process at a standstill. He said there likely cannot be peace in the area until the minority Arab population is treated as equals to the Israelis.

“There is no peace process,” Hassan said. “There is a war and there is nothing that can be done about that.”

The panelists were allotted 15 minutes to speak about their feelings on the current situation. While all four had conflicting viewpoints on many issues, peace is one thing they all said they favor.

Israeli panelist Emil Zaidman grew up in Jerusalem and said he understands how the people of Israel feel.

“Personally I have come to the conclusion that peace and compromise should be made,” Zaidman said. “That is also how many people in Israel feel which gives me hope.”

He said it was encouraging to see the two sides working toward compromise before peace talks broke down. Now, however, many are faced with violence as the only option.

“CNN doesn’t make it seem like this is a limited war that has to end sometime,” Zaidman said. “But it is a limited war and there may be other options opened to solve this problem in a peaceful manner.”

Panelist Donald Cohen, an associate of the Anti-Defamation League who lived in Israel for two years, said the two sides must find their way back to peace table. The league is an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism.

Each side plays a vital role to the other, he said, with the security of Israel often in the hands of Palestinian neighbors.

“They came so close to an agreement,” he said. “And now all of a sudden the situation is so much worse.”


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