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Boulder's sister city proposal with Palestine's Nablus leads to political fireworks

With seventy of this state's movers and shakers headed to Japan this week for an economic mission that includes a side trip to Denver's sister city of Takayama, there should be lots of sibling revelry. But up in Boulder, the sister-city program founded by President Dwight Eisenhower more than fifty years ago has become the focus of a family feud, as residents debate a proposal to create a sister-city relationship with the Palestinian town of Nablus on the West Bank. Boulder City Council is slated to consider the controversial proposal at a meeting at 5 p.m. today, June 10.

The council's already heard plenty from the opponents, including some major Jewish groups. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that city officials have received nearly 400 e-mails about the proposal, with 57 percent in opposition.

The mission of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project is "to foster relationships based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges, creating lifelong friendships that support prosperity and peace through person-to-person 'citizen diplomacy.'" That's the term Eisenhower used when he created the concept, but the citizens of Boulder haven't been very diplomatic in their criticism of the proposal.

Will cooler heads prevail? Here's what longtime Boulder resident and Westword staffer Juliet Wittman wrote to councilmembers in support of the project:

My parents were refugees in London in 1939. They came from Czechoslovakia, where most of our relatives died and many endured Auschwitz. I support a just peace between Israel and Palestine and believe that the more people know of each other, the likelier peace becomes. I am deeply distressed at attempts by some local organizations to politicize the work of the Nablus-Boulder Sister City project and to sway the City Council against it. These organizations do not speak for me as a Jew, and theirs is the kind of attitude that makes cooperation and coexistence close to impossible. Please support the project.

We could know as soon as tonight whether Boulder City Council will decide to.

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