Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Israeli Arabs tour Auschwitz

It was the largest organized visit yet by Arabs to the camp, which annually sees about 500,000 visitors, according to the Auschwitz museum. The group of Israeli Arabs included intellectuals, professionals and businessmen, most in their 40s. About 200 young Jews and Arabs from France are accompanying the group on the visit, which continues Wednesday. "We came here in order to know what happened exactly in order to express our sympathy and solidarity with the Jewish people," said Awwad Nawaf, 57, a teacher who lives in Nazareth. "We hope this will help us and the Jews to live in good neighborhood, and to understand each other. We hope it can help stop the bloodshed and the cruelty." The joint visit was the idea of Rev. Emil Shoufani, 47, an Arab Catholic priest from Nazareth, in northern Israel. He hoped the trip could help lessen the deep-rooted bitterness between Arabs and Jews, which has worsened after more than 30 months of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.