Long-time member of NS/WAS (and twice member of the Secretariat) Rayek was elected secretary of NS/WAS in October 1997. Interview conducted by Howard Shippin.
How do you feel about being Secretary of NS/WAS?
I think this is a very challenging and prestigious position. For me it is not just being director of a small community but of a kind of movement. Like others who have already had the opportunity, I want to have my chance and look forward to making my own contribution.
What would you like to accomplish during your term?
I will be continuing the work of my predecessors to develop the village and its institutions. This is a critical period, in that we are making decisions that will determine the future of the community. On the one hand we are planning a large expansion of the village and, on the other, we are planning a major development in our institutions. For instance, I hope to support our children's educational system in its long-range plan to develop a junior high school. I want to assist with the development of the guest house. And finally, I want to push forward the plans for the for a campus for peace education.
In addition, I would like to see the village better known and appreciated among Israelis and Palestinians, and I will try to advance this through the work of the Israeli Friends? Association. I personally will try to advance this especially among Palestinians, since it matters to me very much that they should come to know more about us.
In NS/WAS itself I am interested in working to increase the cooperation and involvement of the members. I would like to encourage more people to take part in the affairs of the village. Many people would like to become more involved yet cannot find a way, so a lot of good energy is wasted.
Sometimes in our work for the various departments of the village, we forget the value of the community itself. This is unfortunate because I think there is great importance in NS/WAS as a community. We are the only group of Palestinians and Jews who have adopted the option of living together as a community. We came here in order to see if, despite the conflict, we could find a way to cooperate on a close level. This experiment is what we are as a community; there is nothing else to it. It is a part of our lives. As a community we do not represent a goal or a solution for the Middle East - I mean, we do not expect the whole country to become a kind of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Yet in a society where many think our two peoples cannot coexist even as separate population sectors, we are proving the opposite. We are showing that even our extreme solution of cooperation in close community can work. This can only happen when one basic condition exists: that we can see and relate to each other as equals.
Over the last four years, the Palestinians and Israelis have proven that for peace to become a reality, it must be a joint effort between the two peoples. Whereas formerly each side would claim it is they who want peace while the other side is preventing it, we are now at a different stage, where it is clear that on both sides there are those who want peace, and others who, while claiming to want peace, are unable to make a compromise. Naturally, to reach a peaceful settlement, compromise is a condition. No one can have a hundred percent of his needs fulfilled and there is no one hundred percent justice. Peacemaking involves compromise.
NS/WAS continues to prove that, without compromising the essentials, peace is possible for our peoples. Like the political peace process itself, the community could not exist without the support and the encouragement of people on the outside who believe in us. We thank everyone who, trusting in our ways, continues to offer this support. We believe we have a lot of work ahead of us in developing the village as a setting for educational peace work backed up by positive example. We welcome everyone who wants to be a part of the extended community of NS/WAS.
Interview with Past NS/WAS Secretary Ahmad Hijazi
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