Speaker 7: Thank you ambassador.  My name is Steve Sawmill, I coordinate an interfaith group and interfaith dialogue group in the DC area and another two part question for you.  First about the background of the refugee crises, the plight of the Palestinian refugees that by way of background, I would like to ask you first and I hope you will answer this.  in 1947, 1948 were you to have been a Palestinian with the dictate of partition facing you, how fair do you think that would have been?  Or answering from your just from you the ambassador.  By the way my father was Jewish, I was brought up Christian, my father was Jewish.  I see horrible unfairness there and I can sympathize with the creation of the Israeli state being seen as the catastrophe.  It is hard for me to say but I can sympathize with that view, so your view would be greatly appreciated.  And then quickly, you said the Obama administration in looking at the two state solution would see the Palestinian state as contiguous territory yet we have West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, how do we get contiguous out of that?

Speaker 2: Well Steve, let me address your first question.  In 1947 I was 7 years old.  I don’t know how old you were and it took me a long time before I knew anything about modern Israel or the problem of the Palestinian refugees, but I very soon learned about a problem that in many ways parallels the current problem and that includes problems of refugees and that was a problem that took place because I come from an evangelical Christian kind of background.  We studied the Bible, you read Genesis.  You read about that in many ways dysfunctional family of the patriarch Abraham.  When I as a [???] school student read about how Abraham’s first son Ishmael by the Egyptian woman Hagar how he and his mother were expelled from Abraham’s tent, Abraham’s home and shelter because Sarah his Jewish wife felt jealous for her son Isaac or felt jealous because she didn’t have a son, later she had a son Isaac.  That is right she felt jealous because she saw baby Isaac playing with Ishmael and she didn’t want that to take place and so she prevailed upon Abraham to expel them from the tent.  I felt just reading that bible story the injustice of that. So you asked me how I would have felt becoming a Palestinian refugee, I felt the injustice of Hagar and Ishmael being expelled.  But read the whole chapter of Genesis.

Read the whole chapter of Genesis and you will see that at the end Ismael and Isaac come together to bury their father Abraham. Doesn’t that suggest what our role should be with regard to the Arab Israeli crisis.  To sense the injustice of what has happened of the Palestinians, but to work for reconciliation between those [???] cousin, the Arabs and the Jews in a way that can provide for the welfare and security of all their children.  That is my sense about the moral issue there and I think that people of faith have a great role to play in making sure our government keeps an eye on this kind of issue.  Now secondly in regard to a contiguous state, there are all kinds of ideas that have been worked out between Palestinian and Israelis who are not in the government necessarily at the present time, but have been in the government before and have met since then in places like Geneva where they worked out comprehensive settlements, a comprehensive solution that included ways in which to withdrawal from settlements you could have a contiguous territory in the West Bank also, but connected with some kind of secure land bridge with Gaza so that there could be a Palestinian authority that could effectively govern both Gaza and the West Bank and this could be done in a way that would not harm Israel’s security.  So I think those things are very soluble if you have the will.  Right now you don’t have the will on the part of Israeli government, it doesn’t even formally accept a two state solution, but as I say that is not immutable and I think that will be changed and it will be changed primarily because of forces and pressures from within Israel itself.

Speaker 1: Thank you so much, thank you coming and taking out time to talk to us.  Thank you all for being here with us.  Now I would like to.