Israel and Palestine Moving Forward: A Teacher’s Perspective

posterBy Jack Zhang ‘14
EE News Editor

Samar Sakikini was in Washington D.C. Standing outside Lincoln Center, she glanced up, looking for a sign. As soon as it was given, she, as well as many other Arabic Americans raised their hands in celebration.

The day before, Palestine was officially accepted into the United Nations as a non-voting member state. While the title may seem small, the implications are huge. This meant that it was officially recognized as a country and as a people.

Besides being a social studies teacher, Mrs. Sakikini is also an immigrant. As a child, she grew up in Palestine, speaking Arabic.

“I was in jubilation when I heard the news. We worked hard for it,” said Mrs. Sakikini, “ It has been long overdue.”

After World War II, land from Palestine was allocated to make way for the new country of Israel. However, this is not to say it was done with ease. Many Palestinians today feel that it was it was a violation of their sovereignty. Because of ongoing disputes, many former motions to join as a member state were rejected.

“My father became a war refugee because he lost his home,” said Mrs. Sakikini. “The admission took during the 65th anniversary of being separated into two states. For this reason, it was very important to my people.”

However, some people are worried about the potential negative implications. Although the UN resolution was passed with overwhelming majority, 138 in favor versus 9 against, among those opposing were the United States, Canada, and Israel. Part of the concern was the impact on peace negotiations.

Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called it “counterproductive to peace efforts.”Part of this reasoning is the fear that in the pursuit for statehood, Palestine would drop the desire for a two-state solution altogether.

As a member state. Palestine would have the power to prosecute war crimes against Israel, which would start off a legal battle, which would damage chances of negotiation.

But for the moment at least, people seem to be merely celebrating a long-awaited recognition. During the Turath celebration in Washington D.C., there were dances, parades, and songs. It was planned months beforehand, but the announcement of recognition gave them something more to celebrate about.

Hanging on the wall of her classroom, is a sign saying “Peace and Coexistence.” Gesturing to the sign Mrs. Sakikini says, “I believe in a two state solution. It is important for all countries to respect one another.”

As she constantly reminds her students, it is important to remember your culture and heritage. When raising her own children, she instilled in them a strong sense of respect of where they came from. Her son, John, started the THS Model U.N. club in 2003 and graduated from GW University. Her daughter, Haneen, works today at a teaching position in Palestine.

That’s part of the reason Mrs. Sakikini started the Cultural Diversity Club, because she wanted everyone to take part in sharing each other’s cultures and respect one another.

“It is part of your nature, she says. “If you deny your culture, you deny yourself.”

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