To me, the blockade of Palestinian territories has been inhumane and unjust. My heart aches for the suffering of the Palestinians in those territories. To be honest, I've cried many times for their plight and reading about their circumstances puts me in a very dark place.
However, I also have compassion for anyone who lives with fear that their lives and the lives of their loved ones are in jeopardy -- especially when there is so much in their personal and families' histories to warrant fear. I understand the kind of fear that lives in your DNA and it can't be shaken so easily even if it ends up destroying you in the end. It is not mere propaganda that there are powerful people with access to weapons who want to see Israel destroyed and some, I'm sure, would like to harm the Jewish people.
I'm afraid that the Israelis and Palestinians are in a suicide pact at this point because of fear, mistrust and hatred. It appears that there just isn't enough support for the one-state or two-state solutions. I'm afraid the next implosion may engulf the region and the world into a global war with the U.S. and Iran getting directly involved.
The culprits in the story to me are not either of the two sides, but the former European empires (Great Britain, France, and Russia) that divided the Middle East to suit their needs during the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement). It seems that this agreement made in secret by European colonialists has cast a Gothic shadow over the the entire region with a map that just does not fit with the needs and lives of the people who live there.
Because it is human nature to respond to conflict and violence with more conflict and violence, how to break this cycle is the biggest and the hardest political, moral and personal challenge facing our time.
We the People must organize and stand up together to the people who only use the language of war and violence to resolve conflicts. We must choose between militarism and humanism. Militarism is founded in our fear of each other. Humanism is founded in our faith in each other. I choose faith. I choose humanity.
I really think that creating people-to-people networks and working together towards peace -- bypassing governments made of militant hardliners -- is the best way forward. To me, there is a lot at stake in all of us creating these informal circles of understanding, networking and communication and taking action together.
In the last 3 months, I've been part of creating two Facebook groups that give me a lot of hope. Libyans and Americans United for Friendship and Peace was formed the weekend after the Benghazi attack when I reached out and connected with people in Benghazi who organized and participated in the demonstrations apologizing to America and expressing their sadness. Together we formed this group after a Skype call.
Initially, we mourned Chris Stevens' death and tried to connect with each other. Quickly, it blossomed into a real community of people exchanging stories about their lives and candid opinions about life, the world we live in. It felt like a real cafe where people would come and go and sit with each other over coffee and tea.
There are over 6,500 people in that group, with people from all over the world gathered for friendship and understanding. People exchange photos of their families, recipes, opinions, advice, worries, inspiring quotes, jokes, news, etc. What real friends do every day. I've received some great film recommendations from young people in Benghazi! It's a beautiful daily demonstration to me that ordinary people everywhere do not want war and violence, but just want friendship, love and understanding.
People of the World United for Friendship and Peace grew out of that loving and inspiring community. I knew that eventually we would want to broaden the circle and make it welcoming for people from all over the world. That is what is going on. The call was made about a week ago and it is attracting an international crowd -- right now there are over 740 people from many countries on it. Because of the terrible conflict in Gaza, we've had some tense moments. It appears that there are a few people from Gaza and Israel in the group. As someone in the group said, "this is a serious chance to learn from each other." I agree.
I hope you join us as we form friendships, gain greater understanding and seek a path to peace together. In some ways, we are redrawing boundaries -- at least human ones -- one comment and click at at time.