Narrow-mindedness won’t solve any problems in the Middle East
Over the past several weeks, two opinion pieces were published in The Eagle about the controversial topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I respect the opinions and relate to the experiences of the two authors who wrote these pieces, something must be said about the blame game the two are playing.
Every story has two sides, and both authors failed to look at the other side of this controversial conflict. Even worse, they focused on the most radical aspects of each side. I’m not denying the fact that some Palestinian children are taught math problems using Jihadists as examples or how Palestinian properties in the West Bank are mistreated with offensive graffiti. The point I’m trying to make is that people can continue to write columns faulting the other side. The Israelis continue to live in constant fear of airstrikes from Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Palestinians are living under an illegal occupation and are subjected to human rights abuses. The Palestinians simply won’t make peace with the Israelis. The Israelis simply won’t make peace with the Palestinians. This blabber can go on forever and nothing will be accomplished other than contributing to the increased polarization of this issue.
A recent poll by the Hebrew University’s Truman Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research states that 62 percent of Israeli and 53 percent of Palestinian survey respondents were in favor of a two-state solution. The public is on the side of peace. While the Israelis and Palestinians may have made mistakes in the past, which should not be ignored, regarding the treatment of their counterparts, open-mindedness is key in the peace process.
We need to focus on the positives in order to accomplish peace in the Middle East. Take the musical group Heartbeat. This band, comprised of Israeli and Palestinian musicians, performed last week here at AU. Not only were they amazing musicians, but they impressed the crowd with their messages of peace and love in their song lyrics. It was great to see that members of two different religious and ethnic groups can interact and find a common goal among them.
It’s not just the members of Heartbeat that can show the world that there can be mutual cooperation and friendship between Israelis and Palestinians. Ultimate Peace is a summer camp that builds bridges between Israelis and Palestinians while exposing them to the joys of ultimate frisbee. Jewish and Arab students learn side by side at the Galil Jewish Arab School about their languages and cultures. Friends of the Earth Middle East brings together environmental activists from Israel, Palestine and Jordan to work on common issues such as the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the impacts of climate change on the region. The list of groups working in cooperation with one another goes on and on.
Instead of working in opposition of one another, the people of Israel and Palestine must work together to achieve a lasting peace in the region. Yes, there are extremists on each side, but we must focus on the good rather than the evil if we want to give peace a chance.
Zachary Blaifeder is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and School of International Service.