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Students speak out on conflict


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Published 2002-05-01T00:00:00Z”/>

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Paulette Coon<br>Staff Writer

Palestinians and Israelis may not see eye to eye in the Middle East, but hope for peace lies here in Chico.

Both Palestinian and Jewish students are concerned about the conflict in the Middle East, and want to see an end to the fighting .

Joel Bernstein, 23, is Jewish and a member of Chico Hillel.

Bernstein went to Israel in 2001 when the intifada began, and told how a couple of bombs were detonated in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv when he and his group of travelers were nearby.

He said some of the Israelis he knows who live or grew up there and feel strongly about what is going on.

“Most of them will say ‘We’re tired of our kids getting blown up and we’re tired of being worried about walking into a cafe and getting shot or blown up,'” Bernstein said. “They’re like, ‘if it was up to us, we would give back the land if it would guarantee peace.'”

Bernstein said that to an extent, both Palestinians and Israelis are at the same point when it comes to peace.

They both just want their land, their peace and their country, but if they cannot agree to have peace, they will continue to fight, he said.

Bernstein said a big part of the problem is the leaders of Palestine and Israel.

He refers to Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon as “two stubborn old men who are on opposite sides of the picture.” He said that both Arafat and Sharon are no angels because their pasts are so checkered.

He said Arafat is like the grandfather of modern-day terrorism, while Sharon has invested most of his life in the Israeli military and is a former Israeli minister of defense.

Sinan Alfaqeeh, 25, is a Chico State graduate student and member of the General Union of Palestinian students.

He empathizes with the refugees of Israel who want to go back to their homes.

“There are 3 million refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon who are not being allowed to go back and live in their homes that they used to live in. Some of them still have the key to their homes and they say ‘that’s my key to my home that I’m going to walk in one day,'” Alfaqeeh said. “What about them?”

Denise Benveniste, 19, is a member of Chico Hillel who has a solution for bringing peace between the two sides to Chico.

She said that the General Union of Palestinian students at Chico State and Chico Hillel are talking about getting together over coffee in the near future.

“Right now, we want to get together with them and do a social gathering where we would get to know each other for who we are as people, not the religious affiliation we are connected to,” Benveniste said. “I don’t see any point in being angry at fellow students that I don’t even know.”

Khaled Dudin, 32, is an advisery member of the General Union of Palestinian students at Chico State University.

He agrees that Arafat and Sharon are just two stubborn old men who will never give in to each other.

Dudin thinks that the answer to peace lies in both the Israeli and Palestinian people.

In order to achieve it, he said that there has to be a leadership of people with a common goal.

“For peace to happen, there needs to be an end to the injustice and a committed leadership of strong, brave people who are sincerely interested in peace. These people need to realize that occupation of another country is evil,” Dudin said. “Peace needs to be built from the bottom up through popular referendum by people that are like each other, like Israeli and Palestinian medics who save the lives of people regardless of whether they are Palestinian or Israeli.”

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        Students speak out on conflict