Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project

Dear City Council,

I regret that I am unable to attend tonight's meeting, so I wanted to register my opinion via e-mail.

I am in full support of the city approving Rafah as Olympia's sister city.

I understand that some locals consider now an inopportune time to create a sister city relationship in this part of the world. Certainly Israel/Palestine is entrenched a conflict which is deep, in which solutions are not obvious. It is a conflict where both sides state that there is no such thing as a neutral position, which makes reaching out seem like a risky thing to do for a prudent government, so far from the conflict.

But divisive conflicts such as this are precisely what the model of sister cities was created as a response to. The purpose of sister cities is to bridge cultural gaps, not to align oneself with a particular government or political ideology. Some local constituents have suggested that we should have a sister city in Israel, and I would support such a relationship wholeheartedly as well.
Some constituents have argued that formalizing our relationship with Rafah would be divisive, but I disagree. Diplomatic and cross-cultural relationships do not increase prejudice and conflict, they help resolve it. No matter how misguided, depraved, or corrupt the leadership in a certain region may be I think that creating cross-cultural relationships between common peoples is always a prudent, proactive, and positive thing to do.

We may find a lot of controversy in Olympia about what is the greatest wrongdoing in the middle east, where the blame lies, and what the solutions are. But I believe that you will find that what is uniting and mainstream here is so as well in Rafah and throughout Israel: most all of us wish passionately for a world that is peaceful and just.

As a city we have taken this step in the midst of post-WW2 racism and devastation between the US and Japan, post-cold war Soviet paranoia and propaganda, and in the aftermath of the Contra war. None of these were politically neutral actions, but all were optimistic.

I hope that you will choose to take such an action now with Rafah, where optimism is most desperately needed.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Jade Souza
Web whatthistownneeds.blogspot.com