The city of Boulder, CO last night voted to reject a twin-city partnership with the Palestinian town of Nablus on the grounds that such an alliance would do more to encourage divisiveness than it would to promote peace.
By a vote of 6-3, the City Council determined that the complicated political aspects of the arrangement would only serve to further embroil the Boulder community in a heated debate, rather than bring two communities closer together, as is the project’s intention. They did however, encourage both supporters and opponents to explore other ways to find common ground through the sister-city model.
Opponents argued that the values of Nablus and Boulder differed too greatly and such a partnership could imply taking sides in the complex Israel-Palestine conflict. They suggested similar community coordination could still be achieved without recognizing Nablus as a sister-city.
“It is dividing our Boulder community, rather than uniting us to work for peace,” Beth Ornstein, a member of IAN’s Community Impact Partnership program in Colorado, told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Council member Suzy Ageton echoed that sentiment explaining, “I am uncomfortable that our community is so up in arms over this and so conflicted. I would encourage the Nablus group to reach out.”
Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum added that while he believed the proposal had merit, he worried it would serve as an endorsement of the Nablus government and culture. “I’m not sure I want to attach Boulder’s name to it,” he said.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, if nothing else, complex. The Israel Action Network lauds the Boulder community for their careful and thoughtful consideration of this challenging proposal. The decision to instead pursue partnerships that recognize both Israeli and Palestinian narratives equally is not only fair, but far more productive. Embracing a model of reconciliation will do much more to promote an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than the alternative which only serves to perpetuate it.