Thursday, January 05, 2006

A hope for peace...

I've watched the Palestinian/Israeli conflict for years now, especially since the intifada began. Having had both a Palestinian and an Israeli roommate, I've had a chance to look at the picture painted by both and mull it over. There's no doubt it's a situation that goes beyond what the word complicated describes.

I remember my Palestinian roommate six years ago talking about how hated Ariel Sharon was, how he was a criminal, and so on and so forth. I remember my Israeli roommate speaking of how he was a hardliner. That was the first I'd ever heard of him.

I remember thinking, as Israelis forced elections because they were frustrated with their inept Prime Minister, that if the Palestinians didn't take more control of their radical factions and if the bombings continued at the rate they were, that the Palestinians were going to get something very unpleasant... they were going to see a frustrated and scared Israeli public elect Ariel Sharon (the very man that actually sparked the intifada), a man who promised results.

That's what happened. And Israel began striking back, harder than ever. Arafat was confined to his headquarters building, retaliation strikes occurred, targeted assassinations... the works.

But then something strange happened. Somewhere along the line, Sharon actually realized that peace would not be accomplished by simply striking back in a never-ending chain of retaliation. Somewhere along the line, he stopped being a hardliner. Eventually, he became the first Prime Minister *ever* to pull out of Israeli-occupied territory, giving Gaza back to the Palestinians. The Palestinians brokered cease-fire agreements with their militant groups.

To me, who would rather be optimistic, there seemed a small, small possibility of someday reaching peace... someday reaching a compromise between two groups whose hatred for each other is epic.

Tonight my thoughts are with Ariel Sharon and everyone else in Israel/Palestine. I hope that his successor will see the need for compromise and peace, and I hope that vision can be accomplished someday.


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