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In a move designed to ease tensions between Arab and Jewish communities in the Boston area, members of from both groups met yesterday in Boylston Hall to plan a blueprint for cooperation.
The 40 participants at yesterday's conference--which included students from several Harvard organizations, as well as members of the New Jewish Agenda (NJA) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee--discussed ways to find joint solutions to the long-standing controversy arising from Middle East politics.
After spending the afternoon in small discussion groups, conference attendees joined in a larger, but relaxed, symposium. And they agreed that in order to settle their differences, members of both sides need to join together in a task force designed to educate each other about their concerns.
One way to increase awareness, participants said, would be to host lectures at high schools for students and their parents or pair members of Jewish and Arab-American communities. They added that both groups should jointly lobby the U.S. government to redefine its aid to Israel.
"I think it's something very helpful, the fact that 40 Jews showed up to talk about this issue," Majed Tomeh, coordinator for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said of the conference.
"I didn't think we would solve the problem," he added. But he said continued discussion between Jews and Arab-Americans is useful because "Some Arabs and some Jews do agree on some issues."
Avriel Butovsky, of the New Jewish Agenda's Middle East Task Force and a graduate student at Harvard, said the conference's objective was for Jews and Arab-Americans to work together to change U.S. policy and influence opinion within their respective communities.
"I don't expect us to influence Shamir," said Jonathan Springer '90, a member of the Harvard Progressive Jewish Alliance. "But it's important for grassroots' work, and possibly working to influence U.S. policy."
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