``In my 50 years in Israel, I have seen six wars and I hope that one day I will see peace as well. But stability and quiet would be enough at this stage,'' Abraham Rosenthal of the Israel Hotel Association said Monday during the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities meeting here.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak addressed the assembly Monday night, and Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon was scheduled to speak Tuesday.
Barak told audience members he sought a peace deal with Palestinians ``through negotiations, not one that is imposed through violence or by international dictates.''
Several hundred demonstrators carrying placards and Palestinian flags gathered in the cold outside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion, where the conference is being held through Wednesday. Some protesters hung from trees while others scaled a fence surrounding the center but were stopped by another temporary barricade set up by police.
``There is no justification for the American support for Israel. There is no democracy in Palestine,'' said Ali Sharraz, 31, of Chicago. ``America must know the truth. That's why we're here.''
``In the current round of unrest we have until now taken a path of great restraint despite constant provocations,'' Barak said. ``We are trying to minimize bloodshed and prevent a widening of the confrontation, but we will know how to respond.''
Many U.S. Jews anxious for peace had hoped Barak would offer news on what to expect next, said Michael Kotzin, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
``There is a great deal of sadness that this has happened and a kind of outrage at the use of violence by the Palestinians and the fact that children are being put on the front lines,'' Kotzin said.
Unlike Jews, Palestinians never held out much hope for peace because the issues of deepest concern to them were not touched on during this summer's talks, including the right to return to former homelands, said Hatem Abudayyeh of the Arab-American Action Network.
``The mood now is a mood that is totally supportive of our Palestinian brothers and sisters,'' Abudayyeh said. ``We want peace, but we want it with justice.''