An Open Letter to My Fellow Friends for Peace by Henriette Chacar, Israel

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A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exists.

It’s there – It’s been there for quite a long time now. It’s been introduced in several versions, at different points in time, by alternating figures. But the outline is known: Two states, with Jerusalem as the capital; 67 borders with possible land swaps; and no return of refugees (maybe a public acknowledgement of the Nakba). That’s the resolution in 128 characters – it even fits in a twitter post. So if the foundations are there, why aren’t we building the peace we all dream about?

Because peace is much more than a technicality. It’s not simply a function of decision-makers making a compromise. Word exchanges do not suffice. Declarations and announcements are barely enough. For us to truly live in peace, we – the people – whose freedoms and rights are most affected by the ongoing situation of war and occupation, have to convince OURSELVES that a different, prosperous reality is possible. We must remind ourselves that despite the obstacles, the difficulties and the frustrations of a negotiation process, peace is an outcome we can achieve within our lifetime.

This seemingly never-ending conflict contains several rivalries. It’s the Israelis versus the Palestinians, the Arabs versus the Jews, the East versus the West, the religious versus the secular, the young versus the old, the rich versus the poor, the Right versus the Left… and the list goes on. These tensions are real. Most of us experience their effects on a daily basis. For many of the people in this region, these rifts are an ongoing battle, a day-to-day struggle.

But sometimes, the threat we face is not to be found at a checkpoint. Sometimes, what needs protection is not our survival, or our identity, or provision of justice. Sometimes, our worst enemy is not Israel, or Palestine, or religion, or the extremists. There is one particular opposition that we tend to overlook, and it is that which is endangering us the most – The clash between those who care to be involved, and those who are apathetic. Sometimes, our biggest enemy is our indifference.

Stop justifying the occupation because it’s the only prism of reality we know. Stop believing that hate is an inherent characteristic of the other side, and that it can never change. Stop resisting dialogue, simply because it has failed us before. Stop hiding behind the masks of what you are expected to represent.

We have learned to play our parts so well, that we’ve grown to become detached of our humanity. Behind the rifle of a terrorist is a face who’s felt countless loss and frustration. Underneath the uniform of a soldier is a body broken by despair, longing for somewhat of a saner routine. And yet, we have come to favour walls and barriers over interaction. We have come to desire control over prosperity. We’ve become accustomed to blame and victimization over taking initiative.

Before we point our fingers at those sitting on the high chairs above, we must understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sustained by people; by you and I, who have accepted to play as pawns in our politicians’ attempt at a game of thrones. In order to demand “no more excuses” from our leaders, we must abide to the same standards. At this crossroad, only two choices exist: You either promote peace, or deal with the consequences of the status quo. Indifference is just not something we can afford. Don’t go blaming the lousy leadership if you aren’t taking an action yourself. Don’t go placing conditions if you aren’t proposing an alternative. Don’t go demanding a better life if you are consumed by fear over hope. If you are hungry for peace, excuses should be kept out of the menu.  Yes, it is as simple as that. Ready, set, go and support a peace agreement now.

Henriette Chacar,

YaLa Young Leaders

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