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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Look at Two Young Girls Trying to Build Bridge to Peace in Mideast

Aired May 9, 2002 - 09:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: This week, CNN special correspondent Carol Lin has been looking at some of the people trying to build a bridge to peace in the region, people whose lives have been turned inside out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a little bit excited, a little bit tense.

CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What do you mean?

REEM NASSER: You have to go there every day so that the people do recognize that you're an Arab woman going into an Arab territory.

LIN (voice-over): It's the first time Reem Nasser has tried to cross through the Arab and Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem since the worst of the violence.

NASSER: I keep on thinking maybe they'll think I'm a Jew, a Jewish woman crossing the territory, and they might throw a rock at me.

LIN: But Reem's life has been about navigating on certain roads. Born to Arab parents in Tulkarem, she was only a baby when Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. Palestinian families were torn apart. She and her mother joined thousands of Palestinian refugees drifting between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, until the Israeli government allowed some families to reunite. It had been 10 years since she had seen her brothers, who were still in the West Bank. Reem wants her 10-year-old daughter Nadine to live a very different life, away from conflict and today, Nadine hardly knows the families still in the West Bank, just 20 miles away.

LIN (on camera): You're a world away, aren't you?

NADINE NASSER, NEVE SHALOM STUDENT: Yes, because they live like in war, and they're always scared and in their house.

LIN: So when you see the images on television, out of the West Bank, does it feel personal to you?

N. NASSER: No, it doesn't feel personal. LIN (voice-over): Her mother enrolled in small alternative school outside of Jerusalem, where Arab and Jewish children live together and learn together, in Hebrew and Arabic. Half the teacher at Neve Shalom are Arab. Half are Jewish.

(on camera): Neve Shalom did have an unusual start. It was the idealistic dream of a Dominican monk who was born Jewish in Egypt, converted to Christianity in France, and then he came to Israel. After the 1967 war, he wanted to build a peace center to answer the question for himself, can Arabs and Jews live together?

(voice-over): And in this surreal word Nadine met her best friend. Gal is Jewish, two different little girls, who giggle and find middle ground.

GAL MISTRO, NEVE SHALOM STUDENT: I talk with her in just English, and it's working.

LIN (on camera): When Israeli tanks moved into the West Bank this last month, all the troubles there, do you guys talk about it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think of her. I think of her family and I think of family -- it's hard.

N. NASSER: I do care. To ourselves we think about, but we don't talk about it to each other. We were Jews and Arabs in one class, and then they said they had brother like died or something, and others say that they have relatives in the west bank.

LIN: And then what do they tell you? what do your teachers tell you then?

N. NASSER: They didn't say anything.

LIN (voice-over): The Israeli and Arab school principal say educators can not offer solutions, but they can open children's minds.

DIANA SHALUFI RIZEK, CO-PRINCIPAL: They are not in a certain age they decided what they want to think about what. There's still searching and seeking and so on.

LIN: Nadine will graduate from Neve Shalom to start again at an all-Arab secondary school. Gall, too, leaves for an all-Hebrew School. Neve Shalom, which means "oasis of peace," may be only that in these girls' lives.

Nadine's mother still hopes for more.

R. NASSER: I want it to be a peaceful world. I hope it will be.

LIN: Carol Lin, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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