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Arab, Jewish Americans Express Hope

July 12, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ In shops and on street corners, in full-page newspaper ads and e-mailed statements, Arab and Jewish Americans expressed hopes and fears about the outcome of the Camp David summit on the Middle East.

In Dearborn, Mich., home to many Arab-Americans, clothing store manager Kamal Bazzi said he was praying for peace and advised the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to look beyond the immediate issues to the value of peace itself.

``To name this land for me, this land for you _ it doesn’t make any difference, you’re still going to live together ... You can live in peace. That’s important in life,″ said the Lebanese-born Bazzi, 63.

Full page ads in The New York Times on Wednesday showed that he was not alone in hoping the Camp David talks might lead to peace.

``The Overwhelming Majority of American Jews Support This Peace Initiative,″ read an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak signed by 384 people, including high-ranking officials from many American Jewish groups.

``Welcome to Camp David, Welcome to Peace at Last!″ read another ad, taken out by the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation, based in Washington.

Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and President Clinton, are meeting at the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland to grapple with obstacles to peace.

As they approach a Sept. 13 deadline for a final accord, the two sides remain far apart on key issues, including the future of Jerusalem. The Palestinians want traditionally Arab east Jerusalem as the capital of their would-be state, but Israel insists the entire city should be under Israeli rule.

A statement issued by representatives of several major Muslim organizations said that the sanctity of Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, is ``not open to negotiation at the upcoming Camp David summit and that no individual has the right to sign away Islamic rights in the city.″

``Given Israel’s track record, we believe that it is fundamentally inappropriate for President Clinton to pressure the Palestinians into any further compromise on Jerusalem,″ read the e-mailed statement.

And Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national advocacy group based in Washington, said ``I don’t think there’s much optimism at all that any agreement good for Muslims will come out of Camp David,″ citing Jerusalem as a particularly tough problem.

In Los Angeles, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he believed it would be a ``deal-breaker″ if Arafat held out for east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Barak ``couldn’t sell that to the Israeli public,″ said Hier.

A full-page ad in the New York Post dubbed the summit ``Clinton’s Attempted Swindle of the Century.″ The Jewish people ``do not want Barak to represent them in any negotiation with Yasser Arafat,″ said the ad placed by the Wheaton, Md.-based Concerned American Citizens for Peace and Security in the Middle East.

Others thought nothing at all would come of Camp David.

Manal Makhlouf, 18, a recent immigrant from Lebanon living in Dearborn, said in Arabic through a translator, ``They’re talking too much and not doing anything ... It’s going to be like the other peace talks.″

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