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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Jewish, Muslim students aim for dialogue”

    Students said they believe the UA campus is a tolerant and respectful place to try to come to a mutual understanding of the recent conflict in Israel and Lebanon.

    The diverse student population at the UA promotes political sensitivity, said Mandy Misle, marketing intern for the Hillel Center.

    “”It’s very hard for students (to be intolerant) because of all the different kinds of friends they have,”” Misle said.

    The current Mideast conflict began when members of the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and Israel responded with devastating raids in Lebanon that began July 12.

    Major bloodshed came to an end last week, after Israel agreed to an internationally supported cease-fire.

    Most students said that although hostile feelings still exist internationally, the campus environment is markedly different.

    “”Here the situation is pretty good. Generally, UA is not a political campus,”” said Racheli Marom, the Israel fellow at the Jewish Hillel Center, who has lived in the U.S. for a year.

    Marom, who had two brothers involved in the Israeli army, said it is important not to take Middle Eastern politics personally, even though she is greatly affected by what happens in the region.

    Ebrahim al Belooshi, a systems engineering junior and a Muslim student from the United Arab Emirates, said interactions or discussions on the subject stay respectful even among those with differing views.

    “”The atmosphere that the United States provides to the people who live here, people have to be tolerant,”” Belooshi said. “”If they want to communicate and live together, they have to be tolerant.””

    Peace and harmony are important goals at the Hillel Center, said Sherie Rappaport, the center’s program director. Soon, Hillel will begin offering blue peace bracelets to promote its mission.

    Last semester, members of Hillel and the Muslim Student Association took part in a series of Jewish-Muslim dialogues, which provided a forum to discuss the Middle East.

    “”I hope things take the right direction, and I know it’s very touchy for a lot of people, but the thing is, with these dialogues, you can’t be fake,”” said Sarah Dehaybi, a physiology junior and vice president of the Muslim Student Association. “”You have to be honest and that’s hard – to be honest with people you know are not going to like your honesty.””

    When fighting first broke out, Dehaybi was working as an intern at a hospital in the small town of Minya, Lebanon, where she stayed until a week into the war.

    It’s very hard for students (to be intolerant) because of all the different kinds of friends they have.Mandy Misle, Hillel Center marketing intern

    When a Lebanese army base was hit two miles from her work, injured patients flooded into the hospital, Dehaybi said.

    “”People who were injured weren’t just like gashes or something – they had limbs gone,”” Dehaybi said.

    While talking about her experiences in Lebanon this summer, Dehaybi stuttered and paused when the roar of a plane flying low over campus reminded her of bombing raids in her war-torn home country.

    “”Every time I hear a plane going by, I freeze up,”” Dehaybi said. “”That’s because every time it happened (in Lebanon), it was because they were coming to bomb us or because they were searching everything so the next day they could bomb us. It’s like living in fear all the time.””

    Although Dahaybi acknowledged that there were still some hurdles to be overcome on the road to tolerance at the UA, she is hopeful for open dialogue.

    Rappaport also said she hopes the dialogues will continue, although there are no definite plans yet.

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