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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Death for Death: Can it Ever End?

First: Two Palestinian boys (ages 16 and 17) are killed by an Israeli soldier.
Then: Three Israeli teen boys (ages 16, 16, and 19) are kidnapped and murdered.
Then: A 16-year-old Palestinian boy is killed, burned alive.
For years, I have thought about the rather cryptic saying by A.J. Muste: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." At first I didn't understand it. But I think I get it now. Peace will come only when people say "ENOUGH."
It is time for Israelis and Palestinians to say ENOUGH.

In Northern Ireland, the fighting went on for millennia. My family hosted Belfast teens through the Ulster Project and we learned that the "religious war" there was really a political one. "Catholic" and "Protestant" are political terms in Northern Ireland. When we asked about the roots of the conflict, we got an answer starting with "When William of Orange invaded in 1688...."
The Catholics would kill a Protestant and then the Protestants would kill a Catholic. On and on it went. Finally the mothers formed a force for peace. Others pushed for peace. And peace (mostly uninterrupted) finally came to Northern Ireland.
The situation in Palestine is like that. Centuries of conflict, endless revenge killings.
I'm reading I Am Malala, by the girl who stood up for education in Pakistan and survived being shot in the face by the Taliban. Here is her section on revenge:
"I think everyone makes a mistake at least once in their life. The important thing is what you learn from it. That's why I have problems with our Pashtunwali code. We are supposed to take revenge for wrongs done to us, but where does that end? If a man in one family is killed or hurt by another man, revenge must be exacted to restore nang. It can be taken by killing any male member of the attacker's family. Then that family in turn must take revenge. And on and on it goes. There is no time limit. We have a saying: 'The Pashtun took revenge after twenty years and another said it was taken too soon.'"
Combating a similar bloodlust mind-set in Northern Ireland is The Ulster Project , a peace project that since 1975 has brought together Belfast Catholic and Protestant teens in U.S. cities for a month of discussion, worship, service, and fun. We call it the "one-month party." Teens - who have never met another outside their faith - grow close during the Project month. Reports indicate that none of the Project teens ever join a paramilitary group back home.
There are such projects for Israeli-Palestinian teens. Online I found Seeds of Peace, Creativity for Peace, Hands of Peace, Alliance for Middle East Peace, Building Bridges for Peace, and even a Peace/Soccer program. I included notes about one such program in Tucson in this blog.
There is the energy for peace. Is there the will for it? Can the Palestinian and Israeli mothers unite? Can the students unite? Can the families unite? Surely all are sick of the killing to the marrow of their bones.

Gail Grenier is the author of Calling All Horses, Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, and Dessert First, all available on

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