To the editor:
As a participant in the meeting held last week by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, I want to add to your report on the event. First of all, while it is true that our chair Alan Solow shared concerns about Palestinian incitement with the prime minister, that was hardly the main subject covered at the meeting. Mr. Fayyad spoke at length about his “bottom up state building” effort and the accomplishments in lowering crime and violence on the West Bank. He described his routine of travelling every day from village to village, engaging his citizens and listening to their issues. He spoke eloquently about his commitment to progressive values of democracy and co-existence, and says that he will not tolerate discrimination of any type.
Acknowledging Mr. Solow’s comments regarding incitement, Mr. Fayyad suggested that such incidents should be viewed in the context of a "long time of occupation and violence" and spoke about the people of Jenin "speaking a different language" from their recent, violent past.
Over the course of our recent mission in Israel, multiple Israeli leaders addressed these same issues. For example, President Shimon Peres, said that Mr. Fayyad is “following in the footsteps of Ben-Gurion…building a state, not negotiating a state.” In answer to the question about the language of the decades old Fatah document, former foreign minister MK Tzipi Livni told us that she “doesn’t need to read the charter” because she has met with the Fatah leaders and knows they favor a peaceful, two state solution as a resolution to the conflict.
The significance of the meeting with Mr. Fayyad and Jenin Governor Qaduora Mussa was primarily in the fact that American Jewish organizational leaders were driven to Jenin, escorted by armed Palestinian policemen and had an exchange of ideas over fruit juice and cookies. One could not have imagined this event two years ago and from conversations with delegation members, it was an eye opening experience for many.
New York, New York