More thoughts on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

I have initially wrote when I was applying to universities as a response to one of the questions. I recently went through it and felt it was relevant to share here. Once the actual website is complete, I’ll probably have a copy of this in my ‘writings’ section. For now, here is it:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a regional issue that has plagued over sixty years of Middle East history; nearly a hundred thousand on both sides died of direct military clashes, more died as a result of occupation and living conditions, hundreds of thousands have been injured, and millions have been deprived of their most basic rights due to this conflict. Living conditions have been deteriorating so rapidly that light and running water have become luxuries.

As an Arab Middle Easterner, it is very easy to get carried away amidst such conflict, to get carried in the current of hate, bigotry, and intolerance. How can I not take sides? How can I – when the status quo has bred such pain and agony to my people?

To be honest, I must take sides, and I do. But what I must not do is lose perspective.

When millions are suffering on both sides, it is my human compassion that wakes me up to remind me that human anguish and distress on either side is unacceptable; this is the perspective that I strive to maintain: no matter how strong my political dedication to one side is, it should never reward, justify, or even belittle the ugliness of human pain on either side of the conflict.

The problem we are currently faced with is that most people have lost that perspective; most people have lost respect to, or even acknowledgement of, the other side’s humanity. Sadly, the sixty years of conflict shaped a generation unwilling to compromise.

What really needs to happen is a serious reconsideration on both sides, not of the politics of the Middle East, but of the morals and values. We must decide if we should continue cherishing land above lives, inept slogans above active effort, and causes (even good ones) above reconciliation. We must decide to view compromise as strength rather than weakness.

Treaties are signed by governments, but peace is made by the people [1], that is why we cannot be content with mere political and governmental reform, but must seek a spread of mass education and awareness. Current dialog and coexistence programs must be strengthened and supported, and other similar efforts must be launched so that youth on both sides learn to understand, appreciate, accept, and humanize others. Within several years of such genuine widespread reconciliation efforts, a new generation will be shaped, a generation where peace “lies in the hearts and minds of all people” [2].

While change must come from within, we are also in dire need of external change to arise. When the world’s superpowers also start to look at the conflict objectively, and maintain their own perspectives, it is then – and only then – that they can exert true effective pressure and catalyze a just peace process. We cannot afford a powerful nation that listens too intently to its partial media, and disregards the human suffering afflicted on the other side of the conflict.


[1] John Wallach, founder of Seeds of Peace

[2] John F. Kennedy

Hope you enjoyed reading this, make sure you let me know what you think.

  • Anonymous

    This is normalization (ta6bee3)!

  • Anonymous

    This is normalization (ta6bee3)!

  • Ayham Al Mashni

    Although it’s really an objective perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, some facts are missing. You are – inadvertently – taking the Israeli side by equalizing the amount of suffering incurred by the Palestinians and the amount of suffering incurred by the Israeli. The majority of the victims of this conflict are the Palestinians. For instance, the separation wall – which is a violation of almost 10 articles in the human rights declaration of 1948 – is mainly affecting the Palestinians depriving their youth from education, its eldest from access to medical care, and the whole population from freedom of transportation. Another example is the Gaza war (December 2008-January 2009) more than 1400 Palestinians civilians were killed in comparison to approximately 50 Israelis. Both the Israelis and Palestinians are suffering greatly, the solution for this conflict is in the hands of the global community and the superpower to take the initiative in punishing war criminals from both sides and support – financially and politically – the Palestinian government. Other Arab countries should take the footsteps that the Jordanian government took.

    Ayham Al Mashni
    S.O.P camper 2008 session 1

  • Ayham Al Mashni

    Although it’s really an objective perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, some facts are missing. You are – inadvertently – taking the Israeli side by equalizing the amount of suffering incurred by the Palestinians and the amount of suffering incurred by the Israeli. The majority of the victims of this conflict are the Palestinians. For instance, the separation wall – which is a violation of almost 10 articles in the human rights declaration of 1948 – is mainly affecting the Palestinians depriving their youth from education, its eldest from access to medical care, and the whole population from freedom of transportation. Another example is the Gaza war (December 2008-January 2009) more than 1400 Palestinians civilians were killed in comparison to approximately 50 Israelis. Both the Israelis and Palestinians are suffering greatly, the solution for this conflict is in the hands of the global community and the superpower to take the initiative in punishing war criminals from both sides and support – financially and politically – the Palestinian government. Other Arab countries should take the footsteps that the Jordanian government took.

    Ayham Al Mashni
    S.O.P camper 2008 session 1

  • I never said the amount of suffering is anywhere near equal. The majority of the victims are indeed Palestinian, and I continue to stress that elsewhere. Whenever I mention recent conflicts in the Arab world and Palestine specifically (ehem SOP orientation presentations), I try to make it as clear as possible as those Israelis who end up falling injured (or, once in a blue moon, dead) are a tiny fraction of those on the Palestinian side. However, the point of this essay is not to say both sides are suffering equally (which is a ridiculous statement to think of), but rather to send a simple message: people on both sides should start having the compassion to understand that people on the other side do not DESERVE to suffer.

    In other words, when we get to the day where the majority of Israeli citizens would hear news about the death of a certain number of palestinians would stop viewing that as an accomplishment, and, conversely, when Arabs stop seeing the death of Israelis as justifiable, then we will get to a solution (on a personal level). That doesn’t imply anything about the “amount” of suffering.

    As for the diplomatic solution, in terms of governments, I would agree with your solution (I am actually preparing a post about that).

  • I never said the amount of suffering is anywhere near equal. The majority of the victims are indeed Palestinian, and I continue to stress that elsewhere. Whenever I mention recent conflicts in the Arab world and Palestine specifically (ehem SOP orientation presentations), I try to make it as clear as possible as those Israelis who end up falling injured (or, once in a blue moon, dead) are a tiny fraction of those on the Palestinian side. However, the point of this essay is not to say both sides are suffering equally (which is a ridiculous statement to think of), but rather to send a simple message: people on both sides should start having the compassion to understand that people on the other side do not DESERVE to suffer.

    In other words, when we get to the day where the majority of Israeli citizens would hear news about the death of a certain number of palestinians would stop viewing that as an accomplishment, and, conversely, when Arabs stop seeing the death of Israelis as justifiable, then we will get to a solution (on a personal level). That doesn’t imply anything about the “amount” of suffering.

    As for the diplomatic solution, in terms of governments, I would agree with your solution (I am actually preparing a post about that).

  • Isaiah Law

    well the Israeli’s won the land fair and the Palestinian just want it back so land for peace is a great idea.

  • well the Israeli’s won the land fair and the Palestinian just want it back so land for peace is a great idea.

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