Writing for an Israeli newspaper about the visit I took late last year to the Israel was perhaps one of the toughest decisions of my entire life, not to mention a move that could affect the future of my entire career.
Following the publication of my personal opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post last week, I received a wide range of feedback from friends, colleagues and officials. Some were supportive while others were outright angry at me for being published in a right-wing Israeli media outlet.
There were some who accused me of being too pro-Israel. They claimed that what I had written contradicted my principles, which are and always have been about defending the rights of Palestinians to have a state on their own soil and of acknowledging the refugee issue. Others even went as far as to say that I had been brainwashed by Israeli acquaintances into promoting the idea of living side by side with Israel.
My main response to them is that this is exactly the essence of the peace treaty signed by my country with Israel more than 15 years ago and it is certainly the only option on the international political table today.
Over the past century, our region has witnessed several wars, all leaving countless number of families shattered, hundreds if not thousands of mothers broken-hearted and tragic living conditions on both sides of the river. We must always bear in mind that aggression and war creates no winners.
We will continue to hear about the endless negotiations and about the chances of the Middle East rivals coming together to talk about means to bridge gaps and achieve a breakthrough for the sake of humanity. But considering the frustrating developments currently taking place on the ground, I cannot see any chance for that to happen.
Not a single day passes without reading depressing news about this eternal struggle. Perhaps that's the reason that I took this step and chose to write about something different. I opted to highlight the humanitarian side of the conflict, rather than reflect on the killings, arrests, house demolitions or settlement constructions reported on daily basis by the local and the international media. I wanted to deliver the message through my opinion piece that despite the decades-long conflict, and despite the engraved hatred in the minds of the older generation, we should give the next generation a chance to decide their future and the way they want to live their lives.
Truthfully, I had a feeling that my words would draw fierce opposition, but what I was not prepared for was the outpouring of understanding from people who embraced what I wrote and prided themselves on being equally as open minded.
However, many of these open minded people they felt they could not show support for what I wrote or express the same sentiment in public, opting instead to stay in the shadows out of the fear of being accused of being "normalizers."
I have taken to calling these people the "silent majority." The difference between this group and me is that I took the step to speak out. I confronted my fears, ready to take on whatever the consequences might be.
This might sound like a criticism of them, but believe me, I do understand their fears. There is a powerful lobby against the "normalizers" and I want to point out that it is their support that has encouraged me to continue and that has given me the momentum to stay on track.
Writing for the Jerusalem Post does not mean that I am taking the Israeli side, nor does it mean that I am turning a deaf ear to the legitimate rights of the Palestinians -- who have clearly been suffering from this conflict for a very long time. Rather, it is meant to open the eyes of the people on both sides of the conflict to the fact that we have suffered enough and it's now time to resort to the voice of reason and resolve our differences through dialogue.
To read my op-ed at the JPost go to the following link: