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Recognizing the inherent humanity of Palestinians

Reader comment on item: Polls, Palestinians and the Path to Peace

Submitted by Jeff (United States), Feb 20, 2003 at 01:37

I agree with the conclusion that "The sooner Palestinian leaders and public alike, come to terms with the unalterable reality of Israel's existence, the better it will be for all concerned." After that we part company.

Israel under Sharon has done more to exacerbate Palestinian rejectionism than to discourage it. Sharon has failed to connect with the "moderate middle" of the beleaguered Palestinian public that is reasonable and wants to live a life with security, a modicum of prosperity and a future for their kids. Palestinian opinion polls swing and sway with the emotion of the times but they do not convey attitudes cast in concrete.

Not nearly enough thought is given to the psychology of gesture in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Politics and diplomacy hinge on trust, emotion and feelings of mutual respect as much as they do on the details of proposed peace settlements. An Israeli Prime Minister today should be doing all he can to reach out to, respond to, reward and strengthen Palestinian moderates. Furthermore, he should be publicly acknowledging the human dignity that belongs to each Palestinian person as a birthright, like any other human being. It's too easy for Jews to point fingers at the Palestinians' considerable shortcomings and excuse ourselves, therefore, for not reaching out on a human level. ...

Israel should try offering the Palestinians - the majority of the people, not the terrorists nor the craven Arafat - a little respect. Such an approach hasn't been tried in a long time. For those who say, "but they must make the first gestures!" I say that Israel is the partner in power here so we should go first. We should take a break from the endless fingerpointing, bite our lips, make some unexpected gestures, look for similar responses from the other side and rush with all speed to reward them. If our side makes the first moves, there's a chance that new leadership will surface on the other side to respond.

The sooner an Israeli leader is visionary enough to stand up and publicly acknowledge the humanity and dignity and suffering of the Palestinian people, the sooner a melting of the hatred can begin and the sooner we will see a peaceful resolution of this tragic conflict. The fists that became clenched can also unclench if there is a level of leadership with the courage to transcend the turmoil and reach out in good will. It's time to give confidence-building measures a try because the majority of the two peoples have had enough of bloodshed.
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