Friday, June 20, 2008

Performing standup comedy in Five Towns Long Island New York

I just spent a wonderful evening with a Jewish family for their Shabbat Services in their home with Aaron Freeman and Yisrael Campbell, two of the three other members of the Israeli Palestinian Comedy Tour -- Charley Warady was jet-lagged and only arrived from Israel a few hours before. We will be performing for a fundraiser for Shalva tomorrow, Saturday night, in Lawrence to help raise money for a Jewish ageny that supports children with disabilities.

The host family that invited us for dinner was unbelievable. Their hospitality was amazing. The serious discussions we had about Arab-Jewish relations, politics, family and more made for an inspirational evening.

I know a few Arabs from the extremist side might be upset wondering how I can spend an evening at the home of a Jewish family as tensions continue to escalate despite an Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel, but I have to respond by saying that we should not focus our anger or politics on what is happening in the Middle East on people. We don't blame people. We don't blame religions. We look at the politics and address the politics, not in anger or hatred but with reason, principle and understanding.

Yes, people are suffering on both sides, some more than others, but suffering is everywhere nonetheless. It's not just one side and to blame an entire religion and a people for a conflict that has been raging for generations is just plain wrong.

We need to see past the hatred and past the anger and past the emotion if we plan to resolve this conflict. Yes, there will be suffering but I know many of the cautious and the extremists would be surprised to know how many on each side feel for those on the other side who suffer.

The answer to conflict is not more conflict. It is understanding. Benefit of the doubt. Controlling our emotions. Controlling our rhetoric and always applying principle to others that we would hope would also be applied to ourselves.

Friday night I saw people. Good people. And I wish that Palestinians and Israelis will have the experience of seeing real people face-to-face instead of being blinded by only seeing stereotypes.

Ray Hanania

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