The Road Ahead in the Middle East

During these hard times for Israeli-Palestinian relations, it is vital that positive steps be taken and international goodwill be mobilized. For a significant number of both Palestinians and Israelis, the use of force has come to represent the only conceivable option. Palestinian society can feel very little hope in the immediate term, so what else is there to lose? Yet it seems just as clear that the pursuit of extreme measures by any party will surely lead to wider and worse clashes.

Rather than resign ourselves to more years of hate and misery, it is urgent that the foundations for future peace be rebuilt before all civilized structures are swept away. The priority in everyone's minds is the present conflict; but until human well being becomes a universal priority, conflicts will continue to dominate interpersonal and international relations.

Those who wish to contribute to reducing tensions should identify and promote starting points for peace-builders to find common ground. Political and media support ought to focus on programs that work on the ground, as reported by humanitarian and non-governmental agencies, and not on particular religious agendas. Priority should go to cooperative projects--enhancing cooperation between different faiths, between different schools within the same faith, and between religious and secular groups.

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