In the second installment of MPAC’s two-part series on foreign policy and dialogue on Israel-Palestine and as a follow-up to our event from last summer on ethnonationalism at Leo Baeck Temple, we examined some of the most difficult topics of conversation between American Muslims and American Jews to learn how we can empathize with one another to move toward a peaceful resolution. Faith leaders and issue experts Rabbi Ken Chasen of Leo Baeck Temple, Hedab Tarifi, and Josh Lockman of J Street lead this discussion, sharing their own personal experiences with navigating these difficult conversations.

“The success in building peace takes place when I’m not only fighting for you to hear my truth and understand my truth, but when I’m fully breathing in your truth and the fact that your truth is as true to you as my truth is to me.” – Rabbi Ken Chasen

The sensitive nature of the panel topic brought out deeply personal stories, which, at many points through the program, were painful for the panelists to share and difficult for the audience to hear. Hedab was on the verge of tears while opening up about being a Palestinian refugee and being unable to return to her birthland, reminding us that we must aknowledge the human rights abuses being carried out on Palestinians and recognize their rights before even discussing the one-state, two-state solutions. 

Rabbi Ken reminded us that the Palestinian voice is the powerless one. Under such circumstances, without even really consulting the Palestinian people, how can we hope for fruitful peace talks? 

Our panelists repeatedly mentioned the failure and inability of politicians to effectively pursue a solution to the Israel-Palestine issue because they completely dismiss the realities on ground. That is why it is so important for us to organize these conversations from the community side and engage with one another to show our leaders what needs to be done to restore peace and justice. 

“We need to talk about the right of return: why can’t I, as a Palestinian, even though I was born in Gaza, go back to where my father was? When my right is acknowledged, that’s when we can start talking about peace.” – Hedab Tarifi