2011 Wellesley High School graduates Noam Shai Waksman (now at Connecticut College) and Hani Nicholas Azzam (now at Tufts University) have launched a website called “Until Next Year in Jerusalem” that’s designed to explore Israeli-Palestinian relations through the eyes of two Americans with Middle Eastern roots.
The project stems from correspondence between Azzam and Waksman during the fall of 2010, while Waksman was recovering from brain surgery and could only have limited personal contact with friends and family. Waksman is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, while Azzam’s father is of Palestinian-American heritage.
The pair write on their website that through their public letters to each other they can “explore the possible roles for Israeli and Palestinian-Americans whose ancestors lived on opposite sides of the conflict” and “how removing the conflict from its geopolitical arena to a place with religious tolerance, economic and political parity, and geographic agreement can lead to more productive dialogue and compromise.” Their early letters have titles such as “Dinner with Relatives,” “Digestion of Hard Questions” and “Blinding Hate.” Their posts also include commentary on weekly news, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing in Israel to the U.S. political conventions.
The overarching vision of the project symbolizes Waksman and Azzam’s: “shared hope of visiting a Jerusalem free from tension and conflict, where we can walk side by side as friends and equals.”