Three women from Jerusalem -- a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian -- are touring the United States together, speaking to civic, academic and religious groups about what life is like under the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They are calling for a just and comprehensive peace settlement, and for an end to war and suffering in the Middle East. The tour is the 13th of its kind organized by a Washington-based group called Partners for Peace. It is dedicated to educating the American public about how to secure peace and justice among Palestinians and Israelis. VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi has more.
The three women started their speaking tour in Washington, D.C. Huda Abu Arquob, a Muslim Palestinian, carried a message from Palestinians to the American people.
"Tell them we do not hate them, but we blame them for not taking actions to stop what could be another native American tragedy,” she said. “Tell them we teach our students to respect the other and respect his rights to live in dignity."the notion that Palestinians are violent people, and to provide insight into how Palestinians must live their lives. "Come and live in the Middle East, come and live in the West Bank, cross the checkpoint every day, get humiliated, verbally abused every day and you will know why."
Abu Arquob says that there are enough peace activists on both sides to lead a different path to settle the conflict.
Tal Dor is an Israeli Jew. She serves on the board of Zochrot, an association that promotes what it considers a realistic view of Israel's history. She became active in introducing what she calls the historical facts after realizing that what Israelis consider a war of independence, Palestinians call the catastrophe or "Nakba."
"When I met Palestinians for the first time I was 23, and I heard the word 'Nakba' and I said what is that? I did not know what it means,” recalls Dor. “I did not know that there is another narrative for the war of independence because I have been always told that the land was vacant and it was a land without people – for people without land – and that we did not do anything wrong, we just needed land. That first acknowledgement, that first eye-opening changed my life."
Dor says that she believes that in spite of Israel's separation wall, peace between Israelis and Palestinians is within reach. She says she hopes that her speaking tour will contribute to educating Americans about how peace activists in Israel are willing to grant Palestinian refugees the right of return.
She uses an innovative way to refer to U.N. Resolution 194 from 1948. "This is a bus ticket, resolution 194, and it actually says here, it is valid from the 10th of December 1948 and has no limitation on time. So basically it is the bus ticket for the right of return."
Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered for decades from the violent conflict. But Amal Nassar, a Palestinian Christian, says they must learn to co-exist. Nassar founded a group called "Tent of Nations" that advocates non-violence.
"It is very important to talk. I want to make peace with you, but I never talk to you how then I can make peace?" she asks.
Nassar says she has forged lasting friendships with Israeli peace activists to work together to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the suffering of both sides. She says peace must start with the young generation.
"I want the young generation of Palestinians and Israelis to be educated on how to be together, to talk together in order to achieve peace."
The three women are of three faiths, but they have one shared vision -- to advocate a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is a solution the U.S. government supports. They say they hope that their speaking tour will get the American public more involved in the push for peace in the Middle East.