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MAKING A NEW MIDDLE EAST : Voices in O.C.

September 14, 1993

"How can anybody not be elated with what we saw happen today? It filled me with hope and joy. The significance of this moment in history is that the Palestinians and Israelis have crossed over a major psychological barrier that will allow both to go from a dark past to a bright future, from fear to trust and, most importantly, from choosing death to choosing life."

--Sami Odeh, president of the Orange County Chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee

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"I am grateful for what has happened today, but I also realize that the evil of the last 45 years should have never taken place to begin with. It is not that I'm not rejoicing with the events of the last few hours, but I would like to have a little more time and also hear what the extremists on both sides will try to do to destroy or to torpedo the negotiations. . . . I'll be carefully waiting to see whether the signature on paper is also a change of heart."

--Rabbi Haim Asa of Temple Beth Tikvah in Fullerton, a Holocaust survivor who fought for Israel in 1948

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"I don't think there's going to be any turning back, I don't think there can be. I think they are heading in the right direction and that the momentum is too great to not move forward. Both sides have suffered greatly, with much pain and tears, and they are ready to change. For Israel, I think they've had enough of being an occupying government. It's been a heartache and there's nothing in it for them."

--Hy Algazi of Corona del Mar, president, Orange County Chapter of American Jewish Committee

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"This is a very historic moment. I couldn't believe it when I was watching the television today and I saw the leaders together. This is the key that will open the door between the Jews and the Palestinians. For the Palestinians this was the right thing to do, the only thing they could do. They have no other card to play."

--Houssam Wannous of Orange, managing editor of Ali-Wasat Alrabi, the Orange County Arab community's newspaper

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