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JADA -- Jewish Arab Dialogues in Atlanta

Inception of JADA

On the night that Passover ended, four hungry friends waited for their large mushroom pizza after eight long days with no bread of any kind. They had been eating only the “bread of affliction,” yet on this night there was no relief from what afflicted Israel.

A lot of Jews were having pizza that night, and it seemed everywhere they turned people were talking about Natanya, Ramallah, or Bethlehem. The friends knew where they stood in their views: they had been talking about it all week. Their questions included “why do they hate us so much” and “what do they really want?” Finally, silence emerged as each person realized that in all likelihood their “opponents” were asking the same questions about them.

They also realized that the Jews were not the only ones afflicted. What about the Arab refugees? Not the ones with bomb-belts and guns, but the ones who just wanted to have a good life? If it’s so important for Jews to have a land of their own, isn’t it just as important to the Palestinians?

The issue is so emotional it is explosive (literally). Though we do not expect our discussions will change minds, we do hope they will soften hearts. So Jews will see that not all Arabs are terrorists, and Arabs will see that all Jews are not greedy. This is the first step in a long and painful journal, but a most necessary step. An ancient Chinese proverb states “A march of 1000 miles begins with one step.” And thus JADA was born.

Next meeting:

The next JADA meeting will take place Sunday, June 9 2002, at 4 pm. Bryce and Lisa have generously offered their home for our use.

This meeting will be a planning session. We will discuss activities for the rest of the year, as well as other administrative business.

There will be a reporter from the Atlanta Jewish Times present at this meeting. Ann Marie Quill is writing a story about us for the paper!

Our First Published Letter!

Dear Editor:
First let us say that we strongly favor Israel and its actions toward securing its future. That said, we are disturbed by the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of our soldiers. Yes, we understand the need for extreme measures and the relationship between suicide bombers and the reality that every Palestinian is suspect. However, we must recognize their basic humanity no matter how much we dislike, disdain, or distrust them. Unfortunately, the conflict has hardened even the most dovish among us, and we feel paralyzed. Here are two suggestions for helping to ease the pain and to gain some perspective:

1) Say Kaddish (prayer for mourners) for the Jews and Arabs alike. Recently, a US diplomat was in Bahrain participating in a mock U.N. when the moderator requested a moment of silence for those Palestinians killed since the onset of the most recent skirmish. At the conclusion of this, the diplomat asked that all remain standing in memory of the Israeli victims of suicide bombing. There was outrage from the students and our ambassador was asked to apologize for his “pro-Israeli” bias. We do not want to mirror this kind of hatred. If enough Jews express sorrow for both sides we can create a mindset for peace amongst ourselves. We may also attract media attention, which is always a good thing when expressing good will. Ours is a religion of actions that help enhance our spirituality, and any measures you take to help the world around you can be beneficial.

2) Participate in a dialogue group. We are organizing a joint dialogue group with Arabs, Arab-Americans and Jews here in Atlanta. Groups like this have been organized in Brooklyn, NY and San Diego, CA with much success. We envision spirited debates, guest speakers, panel discussion, lots of hummos, and paintball for when the going gets rough. Much of our discussion has been only with other Jews; it is time to hear the other side in order to develop a deeper understanding of their position (and hopefully they will gain an appreciation for our point of view). Dialogue is what should be happening in the Mideast, but how can we expect this unless we are willing to do so here in the US?

For more information on our dialogue group, please contact us at:
jadatlanta@mac.com

Sincerely,
Richard , Lisa , and Judith

Suggested Reading before attending next meeting:

Israeli-Arab Hero Is Praised, but Not Embraced

Article origionally in New York times

Special Editorials

Healing Women and Children Amidst Crisis in Israel
June 29, 2002, 10:00 AM
Special guests Nitzan Gordon and Mirvat Hamati

Minutes from Activities planning meeting;
June 9, 2002

View Notes and photos from our May 5 meeting.