Local Jewish, Palestinian Men Offer Different Views on Ceasefire

Updated: 11/22/2012 6:43 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Even though the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is in effect -- people are still dying.

The Israeli military says a soldier died Thursday from injuries from a rocket attack that happened before the ceasefire went into effect.

He was the second soldier killed in the fighting.

Palestinians say 161 people were killed in the eight-day conflict that was sp

arked over the assassination of a Hamas military leader.

In Minnesota, local Jewish and Palestinian leaders question whether the recent resolution will restore quiet and calm to the region.

"The flare up started and we went," said Stephen Silberfarb, the CEO of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. He just returned from a whirlwind trip to southern Israel "to take a message of support from our jewish community."

He snapped photos along the way, including shots of "close calls" with violence, members of his delegation taking cover, and a family's damaged home.

As for the ceasefire, "I think there are chances for peace but probably not with Hamas," he predicted. "I mean, Hamas is to Israel what al-qaeda and the Taliban are to the United States. There's really not a lot of room to negotiate. Hamas doesn't like Jews and wants the state of Israel to be extinct. it's pretty simple."

On the bright side, Silberfarb points to the successful roles both the U.S. and Egypt played in resolving the conflict. "It had the potential to be truly, truly explosive," he said. "I think that was averted by the diplomacy of this country and the assistance of Egypt, guaranteeing the agreement of Hamas and Israel."

According to Dominique Najjar, a native Palestinian who now resides in Mendota Heights, "You have a cauldron of misery really that you're sitting on top of in both Gaza and the West Bank."

Najjar just returned from Jerusalem; he was there for his mother's funeral. "Pay attention when things are quiet," he advised, claiming that the ceasefire simply masks every-day injustices between Jews and Palestinians--problems that can simmer to a boil again, at any given moment.

"The native population needs answers," he continued. "They need to get the same level of economic prosperity, the same level of security, the same level of rights as everyone else."

Even with the violence stopped, the fallout continues. A sense of unease lingers in both Gaza and Southern Israel tonight. The psychological wounds won't be healed any time soon.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com