I usually write about children and family matters, and though this piece feels a little political, it really comes down to the fact that children and family matter.
The Israelis recently accomplished a monumental, life-altering feat by pulling their civilians, as well as their military, out of Gaza. Like others who have a personal connection to Israel, I am immensely proud of the young, unarmed Israeli soldiers who had the responsibility for this task, for they performed it with compassion, empathy, understanding, and resolve. While the world watched in relative ambivalence, Israel had agonized for months over how best to remove an impassioned populace out of homes they had inhabited for a generation. Prime Minister Sharon had literally reversed his political stance to do something that, although emotionally polarizing, would ultimately benefit the state of Israel. I’m talking about children and families who would like to wake up one day without the threat of suicide bombers, angry rhetoric, and ancient hostilities.
Now, after the last Israeli solder has departed Gaza, the Palestinians need to show at least a fraction of the resolve, calm, and maturity demonstrated by the Israelis. The posturing and bragging of the masked, gun-toting, militant factions that inspire violence must stop so that level-headed city-builders can actually build something worth living in for the Palestinian population who will now reclaim Gaza.
This monumental event was not a victory for the militants. They are behaving like spoiled, petulant, immature children. Au contraire, this was a victory for Israel – for democracy, for rule of law, for children and families who had to make difficult decisions, and make life-altering changes because of a deep desire to live in peace.
I sincerely hope this historical event will also become a victory for the Palestinian people. The proof will be in the pudding. They have the possibility, they have the land, and they have their dreams. Now perhaps the democratic process can begin, and there can be a brighter future for the neighbors, brothers, and sisters of the Israelis – for all the children and families who live in this region.