Two newborns, an Israeli and a Palestinian, are both spending their first nights in this world.

Tonight, both cry for the comfort and milk of their respective mothers. Both are highly dependent beings. What they feel, hear and see in the next three years or so will set the foundations for what kind of adults they will become.

Perhaps one day the Israeli child will serve as the prime minister of her country and the Palestinian child as the president of her own, Palestine. Both newborns now, leaders of neighboring states’ leaders of neighboring, friendly states in the future. Imagine that. It’s certainly possible.

But at the moment, they are apolitical beings unaware of the man-made distinctions, hatreds, and ideologies soon to be imposed on them. Sadly, both children also stand the chance of meeting a gruesome death before they reach their first full year on this earth. A bomb or a bullet may destroy their skulls and blow apart their hearts and surely a politician or two or three will invoke their memory and claim it as their motivation for their policy decisions.

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But even if these newborns do survive, both will be thrown into a political culture of death. A political culture the product of a conflict over fifty years old, conditioned not by a desire to make peace, but by a desire to win war. Victory will only come by peace. Israel can have all the great weaponry it wants, but what will it do when, in a few decades, the Jews in Israel are outnumbered by the Arabs in Gaza, the West Bank and Israeli-proper? Will it lose its greatest minds and wealthiest citizens by an exodus to the United States? And what kind of testament will Israel serve to the memory of the oppressed and murdered Jews of the past if it will resemble many of the very governments that oppressed and murdered these very Jews?

And the Palestinians can blow themselves up all they want. They’ll find more rocks to throw as their homes are demolished and the rubble piles up. Yasser Arafat can cry ‘revolution’ as much as he likes, but once the Palestinians have gained the right to determine their own fate, will they have the means to control it?

There needs to be honest characters on both sides for a true and lasting peace to come about. People who are not only honest to themselves about the history and future of their people, but also to those they seek to lead. These honest folk belong to the ‘pro-peace political spectrum’.

People like Arafat and Sharon will carry a torch to set the region ablaze. Folk like Beilin and Nuseibeh will carry a torch so that their peoples can serve together as a ‘light unto the world’, as an example of the great potentials of people cured of the cancers of hatred and self-worship.

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But it is up to individual Israelis and Palestinians to step out of the batter’s box, to place their bats on the floor, embrace their opponents, and say the game is over. Too many children have died. Holy days are no longer holy. Surely, this is the consequence of following war mongerers.

It is time for the people of Israel and Palestine to give power to the peacemakers.

This is a decision both peoples have to make, whether it is through the ballot box or in the street. This will certainly be tough, for the Israelis and Palestinians are as emotional and impressionable as the two newborns above, but far from as pure.

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