By Jhon Sánchez
In 2010, one block away from the L train in Brooklyn, I always found my favorite falafel place. The owner was a Palestinian man, nicknamed Yuyo. What I remember the most from Yuyo was his hands. They were so huge that one of them would cover a whole pita bread. One day as I was eating my sandwich, Yuyo stood to the side and talked to a Hasidic man. Nodding, the Hasidic typed something on his cellphone as Yuyo talked. When the Hasidic left, Yuyo asked me, “Do you know who this man is?”
I wiped the white sauce from the corner of my mouth without knowing what to say. Yuyo lifted his eyebrows, forming three long lines across his forehead and said, “He’s my business partner in this.” He smiled with pride.
I don’t know how to achieve peace; however, creating mechanisms of mutual help between groups in conflict are the best ways to lay down the ground for dialogue. This was the experience of Northern Ireland. “In 1986, Britain and the Republic of Ireland established the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), whose objectives were to promote economic and social advancement and to encourage dialogue between Nationalists and Unionists throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”The results were astonishing in a couple of years: a significant increase in the tourism industry, the lowest unemployment rate in fourteen years, and, more importantly, the private sector advocating for peace and adopting non-discrimination principles.
Today, we try to replicate the model through the Partnership Peace Act to promote economic join ventures and dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. A bipartisan effort introduced the bill S1727 to the Senate. This has been the result of the work of theAlliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), a coalition of more than a hundred organizations thathave diverse opinions regarding the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Kevin Rachlin, the US director of ALLMEP, urges us to contact our senators to vote in favor of the bill.
The 250 million would also benefit organizations likeProject Rozana andSeeds of Peace, among others. Project Rozana provides access to Palestinians into the Israeli healthcare system. And Seeds of Peace has a leadership summer camp for Palestinians and Israeli teenagers to create a dialogue between them.
And just like that, the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act advances to the Senate! Kudos to @NitaLowey and @JeffFortenberry for their leadership. This is a tremendous moment for civil society organizations in Israel and Palestine pic.twitter.com/G4wlqJA9wB
— Kevin Rachlin (@sikevin99) July 24, 2020