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Hello, Salaam! Hello, Shalom! Hello, Peace!

August 8, 2005
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Sammy Waed, a Palestinian, never thought he would become friends with an Israeli soldier, especially one who had been stationed in his hometown of Ramallah. But using the new hotline, the 20-year-old ended up speaking to Arik, a 23-year-old from Tel Aviv.

“Arik told me how much he hated his army service, because he was in the middle of a civilian population, policing children and causing harm to innocent people,” Waed told New York Daily News special correspondent Deborah Blachor.

“Before, I thought Israelis didn’t care at all when innocent Palestinians suffer and are killed,” he said. “But now I know they do care and I have hope that there can be peace.”

Hello, Peace! was launched in October 2002 by the Parents Circle–Families Forum, a joint group of over 400 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents who believe peace is still possible despite having lost a child or loved one in the conflict.

The power of dialogue is leading to friendships. Callers reconnect with each other after terrorist attacks, making sure their friend is OK. It influences children. One Palestinian asked an Israeli Jew to speak with his two children. He wanted them to learn that Jews are not monsters. “It’s time to stop the killing and start talking again,” he said.

Editor’s note: The opinions of Arik are shared by many Israelis, but an equal number of Israelis would vehemently disagree. Bridges for Peace does not share his opinion.

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