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Israelis and Palestinians: Working Together for a Better Future

by Judaic Studies Department at Brown University

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Like many campuses in the U.S., Brown University has been beset by a polarized discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This discourse reflects the way that the U.S. media portrays the conflict — as an unending battle between two peoples who have been and most likely will continue to be implacable enemies for a long time. The reality of Palestinian-Israeli relations, however, is more complicated than the way it is often portrayed. Indeed, there are numerous attempts by Israelis and Palestinians to overcome the barriers between their peoples. The purpose of this conference was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis who are active in organizations that seek to foster the efforts of these two peoples to cooperate on projects of mutual benefit that foster better understanding between them and thereby contribute to a possible resolution of this long-standing conflict. The work of these organizations is not well known either in Israel/Palestine or in the world as a whole, and it is hoped that this conference was successful in informing the public about what they are attempting to do. A conference devoted to exploring their work allowed those who attended to better appreciate the work of Palestinians and Israelis that defies the more prevalent atmosphere of conflict. It also provided the presenters with an opportunity to reflect among themselves on their work in a location far removed from the Middle East. The participants made, in a series of panels, presentations about their work, including reflections on what has motivated them to do what they do, what their major goals are, and the challenges they have faced in attempting to bridge the gap between these two peoples.