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SLUG: 5-51381 M-E Conflict / American Jews
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=04/07/02

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

TITLE=M-E CONFLICT/ AMERICAN JEWS

NUMBER=5-51381

BYLINE=MICHAEL BOWMAN

DATELINE=MIAMI

INTERNET=YES

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: In the United States, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of particular interest to American Jews and Muslims. This week, outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Jewish temple broadened a traditional end-of-Passover service to include a memorial for those killed in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in recent weeks. V-O-A's Michael Bowman reports.

TEXT: /// AMBIENT SOUND: MOURFUL SINGING FADE UNDER ///

Suzette Khodouri, an Iraqi-born Jew who brought her family to the United States in the late 1940's, sits in the congregation at Temple Shalom with an anxious expression on her face. She says she has brothers and sister, cousins and nephews who live in Israel, and that she fears for their lives. She says it has not been easy watching the news about suicide bombings.

/// KHODOURI ACT ///

I get scared to death. What do you think, I don't worry about them (my relatives)? I don't know who will be killed. May God look after us.

/// END ACT ///

When asked about the surge of bloodshed in the Middle East, Ms. Khodouri condemns Palestinian suicide bombers who target Israeli civilians as "cowards." But she also criticizes the invasions undertaken by Israel's armed forces, which she says will drive more and more Palestinians towards extremism, fostering an unending cycle of violence.

Suzette Khodouri says, when she thinks about the challenges facing Israel, she often has conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, she says she retains a strong faith in God.

But, despite her faith, she says she has lost hope for peace in the Middle East.

/// KHODOURI ACT ///

After we shed all the blood, victory? What victory? OK, we might have the state of Israel, but at what cost? Our lives, our children, everybody!

/// END ACT ///

Temple Shalom Rabbi Ivan Wachmann strikes a more optimistic tone.

/// WACHMANN ACT ///

There's a perennial battle between good and evil. But good, as you know in every war, ultimately, will triumph over evil.

/// WACHMANN ACT ///

The rabbi sees the violence in the Middle East as a classic struggle between good and evil, but says neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can lay claim to the mantle of the "good."

/// WACHMANN ACT ///

As the bible says, the potential for evil lies in all of us - whether they are Palestinian, whether they are Jewish. It has nothing to do with what your name is .... If it is Palestinian against Israeli, you will never have peace. Those who speak peace are winning for God. And those who do not speak peace are losing - and they will lose!

/// END ACT ///

/// AMBIENT SOUND: PRAYER FADE UNDER ///

Rabbi Wachmann grew up in Ireland. He notes that the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland does not resonate with most Irish-Americans as deeply as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resonates with Jewish Americans. According to the Rabbi, it should come as no surprise that Jewish Americans feel strongly-connected to their brethren in Israel.

/// WACHMANN ACT ///

The Jew, as a result of the Holocaust, feels that never again must this happen. We feel that we Jews are only a small minority in the world, so we feel like a close family. If you only have one brother or one sister, the loss of that one person is horrific.

/// END ACT ///

Indeed, many at Temple Shalom prayed fervently for an end to violence in the Middle East - almost as though they, themselves, we're living in the region. Suzette Khodouri says she feels kinship with Jews in other lands but is happy to reside in the United States.

/// KHODOURI ACT ///

Israel is my state, but America is my country. I will never leave America. This is where I am; this is my country. If Israel needs help, I will help - but I am an American.

/// END ACT ///

Ms. Khodouri says, in the end, all she can do is pray. (SIGNED)

/// AMBIENT SOUND: MOURNFUL SINGING FADE UNDER ///

NEB/MCB/SAB



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