Israel’s Missing Link

Israeli Arabs Are Key to Negotiations—So Why Are They Still on the Periphery?

"Leaders should follow their beliefs and not the street," he says. "Street people are not clever. Real leaders do what is right."

Back in Jaffa, Adib Jahshan, 43, the artistic director of the Israeli-Arab Theater, has ideas that should earn him a spot on the team too.

"Unfortunately, both Arabs and Jews think with their emotions and not with their heads," he says. "They both act as if it were possible to destroy the other side. But that is not possible, so we have to agree that this land is for both."

"The land is like a piece of cake," says Adib. "We have to share it. If we offer the Palestinians a slice that is too small, they are not going to eat it."

Adib already has a solution to the settler issue.

"The Palestinians should follow the example of Nelson Mandela and say 'we want the settlers to stay and we will live in peace . . . but only if they are Palestinians, with a Palestinian ID card, like the rest of us.' "

Once a Palestinian state is established, Adib says, "We have to send home all the foreign workers here and give good jobs to Palestinians." People who make a decent living do not become suicide bombers.

"Times change; things are much different now. And we have to stop living in the past," Adib says.

"The Israelis and Palestinians will keep fighting, but they should do it with words, not with weapons. That way no one dies."

Rihab Bhatimi, a 19-year-old college student, would be terrific on the negotiating team because she has no patience with either propaganda or politicians.

"What really makes me angry is that they spoke to each other in the past and even made progress," she says. "Now neither side wants to hear what the other has to say. It is so ugly."

Rihab, who has nine brothers and sisters, takes the pragmatic approach to peace.

"The best way to start the peace process is to have a country for Palestinians and a country for Jews," she says.

"You know, if you don't give children what they want, they grow up hating you."

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