Saturday, October 04, 2003

When I read this article, I wanted to cry.

This is so, so, so sad. The restaurant that was targeted by an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber in Haifa was apparently a symbol of Arab-Jewish unity.

Oct. 4, 2003 | HAIFA, Israel (AP) -- The bustling seaside Maxim restaurant is a mirror of one of Israel's few mixed Arab-Jewish cities. Jewish pro soccer players hang out here. Many of the diners are Arabs. For four decades the business has been owned by two families -- one Arab, one Jewish.

... At Haifa's Rambam Hospital distraught Arabs and Jews filled a narrow corridor waiting for information about injured relatives and friends who worked at the restaurant.

One of them, an Arab woman named Odet Najar, 28, waited for news about her cousin, Sharbe Matar, 23, a waiter. "Everybody was together there, Jews and Arabs; we went to the restaurant a lot," she said, in fluent Hebrew.

I sincerely hope they rebuild as soon as possible and continue to live together in peace. It really sucks that there are people involved in this conflict that would rather fight than live together. This story seems to re-iterate the point that this is not a war between Israelis and Palestinians, it is a war between Israelis and Palestinians who want peace and Israelis and Palestinians who don't want peace.

One thing about this story stuck out to me especially, though.

About a fifth of Israel's 6.6 million people are Arabs, a minority made up of those Arabs who were not forced out or did not flee the war surrounding Israel's 1948 creation. They have strong family ties with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza but enjoy Israeli citizenship.

Maybe I'm just horribly naive. Maybe there is something about this that I'm not getting. But, why don't all Palestinians enjoy the type of life Israeli Arabs do? Life in the occupied territories really is harsh and hopeless. Improving living conditions there would probably improve the situation as a whole.

At least it seems that way to me. But what do I know?

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