City's Palestinians, Jews form partnership - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

City's Palestinians, Jews form partnership

CLEVELAND (AP) - The city's Palestinian and Jewish communities have formed an unprecedented partnership to raise money for medical care in the Holy Land.

Leaders of Ishmael & Isaac said they do not expect to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, take a position on the latest Mideast peace plan, or even discuss it.

But they think the very act of cooperation could make a statement that resounds around the world.

"I don't want to say it's high-risk, but this has never been done before," said David Goldberg, vice president of the Ohio Savings Bank and a leader in the Cleveland Jewish community.

"It's overdue. It's something that should have happened years ago," said Khalid Bahhur, the Palestinian-born commissioner of Burke Lakefront Airport.

An Ishmael & Isaac fund-raiser on Tuesday will benefit an ambulance corps in Israel and a Palestinian hospital in East Jerusalem. About 400 people are expected, both Arabs and Jews, many of whom have family in the Holy Land or who fled the violence and despair there.

"We chose something that nobody could possibly object to," Goldberg said. "This is a first, important step in showing our communities can work together."

Past attempts at forming a Palestinian-Jewish dialogue group in Cleveland always fell apart, the discussions were poisoned by fresh violence in the Middle East or complicated by ties to existing organizations and their agendas.

A steering committee of about a dozen people sought to shape a dialogue group that rested on shared values. They named the group for the sons of Abraham, key figures in the founding of both the Islamic and Jewish faiths.

They made sure they had no ties to any established Jewish or Arab organizations, and they agreed to avoid controversial subjects initially.

Cleveland's Jewish community of 80,000 is widely considered one of the most active pro-Israel communities in America. The region's Palestinian community, 20,000 and growing, may be the second- or third-largest in the nation.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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