Zahira Kamal, a leader of the Palestinian Democratic Party, and Dr. Naomi Chazam, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset from the Meretz Party, have been jointly honoured by the Southern California Chapter of Neve Shalom/al-Wahat Salam, a community of 35 Palestinian and Jewish families who live together north of Tel Aviv.
The outspoken activists shared a centrefold in the controversial "Enemies" catalogue by United Colors of Benetton which was distributed in 1998 to more than six million people by Newsweek magazine. Each page in the catalogue featured Israelis and Palestinians - modeling Benetton fashions - who have become friends and can envision peaceful coexistence.
Many of Hollywood's liberal Jewish Establishment turned out for the ceremony, including internationally known hair stylist Vidal Sassoon who presented the Peace Builder Award to Kamal, who spent six months in an Israeli prison in 1979 and was under town arrest in her native Jerusalem from 1980 to mid-1987. Today she is director of Gender Planning and Development for the Palestine National Authority, an agency that is working towards establishing women's rights in the forthcoming Palestinian state. In accepting her award, Kamal said: "Israel cannot have security without giving security to the Palestinians - we must share the land together and women can make a difference."
In Jerusalem, the Jewish Women's Centre and Palestinian Women's Centre often cooperate in projects," she noted.
Prior to presenting the Peace Builder Award to Chazam, Californian physician, Sabri El Farra, commented to the predominantly Jewish audience: "It is now for sane people to say enough. It is time," continued Dr. El Farra, a native of Gaza's Khan Yunis, "that Israelis could ride a bus and feel secure they won't be blown up. It is time for Palestinians to be safe from the fear their homes may be bulldozed overnight.
"After the historic handshake and signing at the White House it seemed we had the right attitude toward peace," he stressed, "but in the past two years the attitude has changed. Now it has become 'how much land can I get?' Israeli Prime Minister. Binjamin Netanyahu, is so smart he may end up outsmarting himself," he concluded.
Holding her award aloft, Chazam disclosed that her mother was elected to the Knesset in 1969, but she disliked politics and urged her daughter to "do something serious."
In 1971 Chazam had entered into a series of discussions with Golda Meir and once asked the Israeli...