We Just Want To Live Here
A Palestinian Teenager, an Israeli Teenager, An Unlikely Friendship
Publication Date: September 2003
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Palestinian Amal Rifa'i and Israeli Odelia Ainbinder are two teenage girls who live in the same city, yet worlds apart. They met on a student exchange program to Switzerland. Weeks after they returned, the latest, violent Intifada broke out in the fall of 2000.
But two years later, Middle East correspondent Sylke Tempel encouraged Amal and Odelia to develop their friendship by facilitating an exchange of their deepest feelings through letters. In their letters, Amal and Odelia discuss the Intifada, their families, traditions, suicide bombers, and military service. They write frankly of their anger, frustrations, and fear, but also of their hopes and dreams for a brighter future.
Together, Amal and Odelia give us a renewed sense of hope for peace in the Middle East.
Amal Rifa'i, an eighteen-year-old Palestinian, plans to study special education in an Israeli college.
Odelia Ainbinder, an eighteen-year-old Israeli, has started a year of community service with a socialist-Zionist movement. She will soon begin her mandatory military service.
Sylke Tempel, is a Middle East correspondent reporting from Israel. She teaches at the Berlin branch of Stanford University
"Profoundly moving....The conflict between Jews and Arabs has been described in countless books and argued in unending polemics, but here, in the letters between these two eighteen-year-old women, an Arab and a Jew, is the heartbreaking essence of the quarrel.... In these letters (an idea brilliantly conceived and carried through by Sylke Tempel) Amal and Odelia educate each other..... This is the book for anyone who wants to feel and understand the emotions on both sides. It will become a classic." --Arthur Hertzberg, author of A Jew in America: My Life and a People's Struggle for Identity