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.
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 people1, 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.
Hope you enjoyed reading this, make sure you let me know what you think.