Don't let violence sabotage efforts toward peace

Published3/10/2008 12:08 AM

If there is one certainty in the Middle East, it is violence. When the Arabs and Israelis have been at war, and when they have been at the peace table, violence takes place. The goal of the violence is to prevent a peaceful compromise because the extremists believe that if they can prevent compromise, they have protected their extremist belief that they can have it all to themselves.

Violence is a weapon of extremism, a strategy that has been used by extremists on both sides, Palestinian and Israeli.


Extremist Palestinians like Hamas, and extremist Israelis like the settlers and other groups in between, all want the entire land of Israel and Palestine for themselves. Palestinian extremists do not want to acknowledge Israel's right to exist because they believe in the so-called "one-state solution" which would revert the land to its pre-1948 days when Christians, Muslims and Jews presumably lived together in peace. Of course, they are delusional because Christians, Muslims and Jews have never lived together in peace.

Israeli extremists also want to prevent peace so they can annex more land in the West Bank to create new Jewish-only settlements.

Around these extremists are the normal people like you and me. We may favor or blame one side in the conflict, but in the end, despite our frustrations and anger, moderates recognize that compromise based on non-violence and mutual respect is the only way out of this conflict.

Palestinians and Israelis all know what the final peace accord will be: two states with a sharing of East Jerusalem; some Israeli land swapped for West Bank land to preserve some settlements; a demilitarized Palestinian State; and the return of the Palestinian refugees not to Israel, but to the Palestinian State.

When emotions subside and peace is achieved, I know Israelis will be the first people to stand up and help raise funds to compensate those Palestinians who lost their lands and homes in the 1947-48 fighting. I also know Arabs will help raise funds to compensate the Jews who left homes and lands from Arab countries to immigrate to Israel.

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The danger for those who support peace is to respond to the violence by stopping the peace process, as Israeli leaders did after Yitzhak Rabin's murder, and as Palestinians sought to do after Hamas took over the Palestinian government. When violence occurs, as it does continuously, the right response is not to suspend peace talks but to step up the peace process. The answer to the violence is to achieve a genuine and workable peace. That means that as we move toward a peace accord, we must be dedicated to peace even when the most outrageous acts of violence take place.

Some people can see today's headlines and say the response to violence is more violence. But deep down, I know good people recognize that the only response to violence is compromise and peace.

And once a final peace is achieved, the two sides will work together to eliminate violence all together.

Neither side can win at war. But both sides can win with peace.

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