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Lemon Tree founder: ‘Fear should not play a part in this decision’

To Members of the City Council of Boulder:
As a community about to decide on the issue of Nablus as a Sister City I am reminded of the of the Prime Minister of Norway’s statement after the terrorist attacks there in July of 2011 committing to protect the culture of openness and not let the attack undermine the basic values of their democracy.
We live in a relatively safe community and fear should not play a part in this decision. We have the opportunity to demonstrate openness, acceptance, support for a disenfranchised community as well as to offer resources through an exchange. Having Nablus as a Sister City would also offer enhancements to our community like the other Sister Cities have done. From our exchanges with their citizens we learn of another culture and of life in another part of the world. This can only add to the richness of our community. Our Duschambe Teahouse gift to us is a wonderful example of how these exchanges are mutual.
Some feel Nablus has supported terrorists. All communities have some bad apples and living under occupation increases this. But using our resources in Boulder to support a healthier lifestyle for their citizens, offering support for their creative citizens only helps the positive elements in their community and is not a statement in support of the violence there.
Fear is a strong force behind much of what is going on in the world right now. And history has shown these acts do not always reflect our basic values which we like to think underline life in America. The Japanese internment camps, the McCarthy Red scare, torture after 9/11 are examples of shameful periods in our history motivated by fear.
We are unusually fortunate to live in Boulder and in many ways try to live our values in an exemplar way. The healthy lifestyle, the care for the environment, the support for innovative businesses that serve to make the world a better place, the organic foods industry, attracting creative minds to do their research and development are only a few examples of what I appreciate about the life in Boulder and am very grateful to be a part of this community.
I moved here in 1971 and was a part of social living experiments for 30 years. I am the founder of the Lemon Tree Group, a dialogue group that has been meeting since 2009 with membership including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, American, Palestinian, Jewish-Israeli, Arab-Israeli, Lebanese citizens . We are the organizers of the Peace Walk each year in September. It is from this spirit of coming together with “others” that I support Nablus as our next Sister City.
I am also a member of Congregation Nevei Kodesh.
I urge you to accept Nablus as Boulder’s Sister City.
Reggie Gray
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