STATEMENT

Capuano Visits Middle East


January 2005

I have recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston, and I came away encouraged that Israelis and Palestinians might find ways to live together in peace. I arrived the day after the Palestinian elections and virtually everyone I met felt that the election of Mahmoud Abbas presented an opportunity to resume security cooperation and, eventually, to negotiate a peace agreement. Of course, the parties both face difficult compromises.

I was briefed by the US Ambassador to Israel and by the US Consul General in Jerusalem, who represents us in the West Bank and Gaza. I met with members of the Israeli Knesset, from parties within the governing coalition and outside it. I met also with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. I spent hectic and rewarding days with government officials, journalists, academics, and citizens of varying perspectives, trying to learn as much as I could in a short time.

I visited two teaching hospitals, Bikur Cholim (Israeli) and Makassed (Palestinian) committed to serving poor communities with dedicated staff and limited resources. Both treat any sick or injured person who enters their emergency room. I took great encouragement, too, from meetings with young people, Israeli and Palestinian participants in the Seeds of Peace Program and Haifa University students of Arab, Ethiopian, and Russian origin who live together through the "Open Apartments" program and mentor disadvantaged children. The JCRC and Combined Jewish Philanthropies cooperate in the Boston-Haifa Connection that sponsors "Open Apartments" and a host of other of people-to-people programs.

Click here to see photos from the trip

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Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208