Finding Peace

Recently on BBC (UK) Radio 4 I heard an Israeli spokesperson repeatedly justified his country’s claim to defend itself against Hamas. Hamas is not an abbreviation but a nickname. It comes from the Arabic word for ‘zeal’. The full name, Harakatu l-Mujawamati Islamiya, translates into English as the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, from a branch that was active in Gaza with religious, social and educational work. Gaza is a city in Palestine with 600,000 inhabitants (2003 estimate), situated on the Mediterranean Sea. The economical base of Gaza are workers living in the city while working in Israel, though this has been made more difficult due to new Israeli regulations. Local sources of income are small industries, crafts, and food processing and fishing. Gaza is the main city on the Gaza Strip and at present hosts the headquarters of the Palestine National Authority. The Hamas can also be described as a radical Islamic organisation that became active in the early stages of the Intifada – i.e: the uprising in the Palestinian occupied territories from 1987 to 1993, in protest against the Israeli occupation and politics. The Intifada involved demonstrations, strikes, riots and violence, and was performed both in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank. What made the Intifada stand out from earlier and later forms of protests was its broadness, the wide support, duration and the involvement and organisation by Islamist groups. There were three principal groups behind the Intifada: the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Hamas (founded in 1988) and Jihadu l-Islamiyy. Hamas and Jihadu l-Islamiyy were both calling for a state in the entire former Palestine. The Hamas operate primarily in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank. They are described as playing a major role in violent fundamentalist subversion and radical terrorist operations against both Israelis and Arabs.

The news 50 another dead in the Gaza strip, with under half being civilians will continue to shock the world. The deaths were the result of Israeli forces admitting their attempts to flush out terrorists. The Israeli spokesperson on Radio 4 accused the terrorists of hiding behind civilians. He justified the Israeli attack by suggesting that it was in self-defence.

There is trouble and responsibility on both sides. Suicide bombings and rocket attacks continue to darken our news. We all appear to be watching from a rally sideline in a hope that a roadmap for peace can lead all sides to a brighter and peaceful co-existent horizon. However, who is holding the map and the essential torchlight? Where are the navigators? When will the race of self-destruction stop?

On my way to the office, I wondered how oblivious to the problems of our world we all are. We all want to get our bus or train on time and then return to our safe houses and controlled media. None of us appears to have the time or energy to push for solutions. It is as if we are cocooned in our goldfish bowls. If we are all living a so-called cushioned existence will there ever be a time when we can pull ourselves out? Unless both sides can see each other’s perspectives, it will be a long time before we can reach a nirvana of peace. Then I had an idea. What if we got the leaders of both sides together but this time change the context of their situation. For example: bring together victims and leaders (violent and peaceful ones). For example: fathers and mothers could ask for those present to realise the implication of their current strategies. Collectively they could achieve local peace zones. This concept would reply on compassion, forgiveness and the desire to accept that violence from vengeance is not resolving the issues at hand. Lets try to achieve common ground and solutions not through violence but through the communication of conscience.

Categories: 2004

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