TEL AVIV (May. 29)
More than 2,000 members and supporters of the Peace Now movement mingled with Palestinians Saturday in fields and olive groves outside four West Bank villages.
Each was a “let’s get acquainted” session, rather than a political debate. The Israel Defense Force cooperated — up to a point.
It declared the villages “closed military areas” for the day, but did not interfere with the fraternizing.
It also kept a sharp eye out for trouble. Gush Emunim and other militant, right-wing settlers threatened to hold counterdemonstrations against the Peace Now visitors, whom they called “Arab-loving, PLO fellow-travelers.”
No incidents occurred, possibly because of the large millitary presence.
But the sight of soldiers and border police standing guard nearby also had an inhibiting effect on many of the Palestinians. It took their Peace Now visitors a long time to persuade them to come out of doors.
For the most part, gifts and pleasantries were exchanged.
The most auspicious meeting was held outside the village of Nahalin, south of Bethlehem, where five local youths were killed in a preemptive raid by border police last month.
The Peace Now emissaries spoke to relatives of some of the dead.
‘MAY BE THROWING STONES TOMORROW’
Omar Najajreh, brother of Fuad Najajreh, who was killed, told his Jewish visitor that the family first thought of retaliation.
They decided not to start a vendetta “but to meet peacefully with the Israel which you represent,” he said.
One of the Israelis present was Ruth Dayan, widow of Moshe Dayan, who served as defense minister and foreign minister of Israel.
She said the late general “would have loved” this meeting with the Palestinians.
She added, however, that “these same people may be throwing stones tomorrow,” Dayan said.
Indeed, some of the village youngsters collecting Peace Now mementos admitted they had participated in stone-throwing incidents, “but only when we saw our family or friends being beaten.”
In addition to Nahalin, meetings took place outside the villages of Ein Yabrud and Turmus Aiya, north of Ramallah, and at Jabel Mukaber, which is within the precincts of East Jerusalem.