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Panel of Israeli students offer insight into Mid-East conflict

By David Zisser

Oct. 9, 2002 9:00 p.m.

Panim el Panim, part of Bruins for Israel, a student
organization that says its goal is to educate students and faculty
about the situation in the Middle East, organized a panel of three
Israeli students Tuesday evening at Kerckhoff Hall.

The panelists, who will be in the United States until Sunday
touring mainly universities in Southern California as part of a
program put on by [email protected], each spoke about their experiences
in Israel.

One of the speakers, Amir Frayman, 25, is an officer in the
Israeli army’s bomb squad. He spoke specifically about his
duties, including the inspection of the bodies of dead terrorists,
which is particularly dangerous, since the bodies are often
booby-trapped by other terrorists, he said.

He spoke about a moving experience when he and other soldiers
saved Palestinian families whom he said were being used as shields
by Palestinian terrorists.

One of the men whom he saved tearfully thanked Frayman with a
kiss on the hand, he said.

He spoke about duty and obligation. He said his initiation into
the army was not about choice.

“They called me. I went,” Frayman said.

He talked about the similarities between Americans and
Israelis.

“We are the same as you,” he said to the audience of
around 80 people.

“We have the same aspirations,” he added. “The
difference is we have a different reality.”

That reality was addressed by Hedi Gur, 25, who attends Tel Aviv
University. She takes two buses to school every day, and another to
work.

“The buses are very exposed to suicide bombers,” Gur
said.

“When I go on a bus, I always think about the best place
to sit,” she added. In the back, she said, “you have a
chance just to be injured, not killed.”

She also spoke about her experience living next to a Palestinian
friend who was born in Gaza. He has lived in Israel for the past 20
years.

“He’s feeling the same thing I am,” she said
of her friend’s fear of Israelis finding out he lives among
them.

“Both sides are suffering. Both sides … are people who
don’t want this,” Gur added.

Her message, she said, is that Israelis truly want peace.

Ariella Weiser, 21, answered a question about internal conflict
among Israelis. She pointed out that each of the three panelists,
including herself, were of different ideologies: Frayman is
moderate, Gur is left-wing, and Weiser is right-wing.

“We get along beautifully,” she said.

All of the panelists expressed distrust of both the Palestinian
leader, Yassir Arafat, and the Israeli prime minister, Ariel
Sharon.

“They’re so used to hating each other,”
Frayman said. Only when there is new leadership in Israel and in
the Palestinian Authority will there be peace, he added.

When asked by an audience member what they thought would resolve
the situation, Gur said that a “realistic solution”
would involve Israel’s surrender of all the settlements, the
establishment of a new leader for the Palestinians, and an improved
education system for the Palestinians.

Jennifer Dekel, co-president of Bruins for Israel, was happy
with how the event turned out.

“It was an opportunity for students at UCLA, both Jewish
and non-Jewish, to converse with Israeli students and have a
personal and honest dialogue with them that they could never get
just by watching the news,” Dekel said.

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