WASHINGTON, DC, MArch 25, 2013 - Born in east Jerusalem 1954, I was 13 before we move to Jordan, just one day before the start of the “June ” 1967 war between Israel and the Arab countries.
The Jewish people living in west Jerusalem were less than 1000 feet from my house and school in east Jerusalem, yet I never met any Jew until I moved to the USA. In the society that I grew up in, the Arabs tells their children the Jews are bad, and the Jews tell their children the Arabs are bad.
Today, living in America, my best friends and friendliest neighbors are often of the Jewish faith.
Watching President Obama this morning in Ramallah I can till you this, not unlike myself, President Obama has come a very long way since he took office in understanding the Holy Land issue. Early in his Presidency, President Obama was less understanding of what it means to be a Jew living in the holy land. Had he been more candid we would not have lost 4 years of peace making, but as we say, better late than never and we are glad he made that trip.
The Jews must feel safe in order for them to make peace. Given their history, that won’t be easy. The Jews have more than 4000 years of justified mistrust of the Arabs, which is like siblings warring as both Arabs and Jews are children of Abraham.
The argument is that the Jews want to control of all borders even of Palestinian state. That can be solved by the ability to screen and approve all individuals of who enter Israel.
The Palestinians want to have control and ownership of their own seaport, but to do so they must be transparent about all imported and exported goods.
Palestinians should not be allowed to come back and live in the new Palestinian state without the Israeli’s consent. Arabs and Muslims around the world who are preaching daily for the destruction of Israel far outnumber the small population of Israelis, a sentiment fueled by Israel’s refusal of requests by Muslims to access and pray in the second holiest Muslim shrine, Al Aqsa Mosque, located in east Jerusalem..
One can understand the need for parity of numbers between the two states.
Finally, both Palestine and Israel need to understand that radical terrorists are the enemy of both Muslims and Jews.
Both Israel and Palestine can benefit from the 1.5 billion Muslim pilgrims if they can make peace and strictly enforce a road map of how people can enter and exit the country. We can learn from Saudi Arabia, who found a compromise to allow more than 100 million Muslims annually to enter the country in the name of religion. With the help of technology, those pilgrims will not be able to stay beyond allotted times before being deported. If forcible deportation is necessary, then a lifetime reentry ban is imposed.
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