Guest Column: Peace: the ultimate goal

Bobby Weitzner

What does peace truly mean? Peace, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is as follows: “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” But peace is more than that. Peace is a visceral feeling that lives within all of us. It makes us feel that we can walk outside of our homes and feel safe. It means we can live a life, raise our children and love our family without the fear of violence and death.

Peace, especially in the Middle East, simply means freedom from hate. One country in particular, Israel, the only Jewish nation in the world, has been subjected to hate for such a long time, despite the efforts it has made to achieve its own peace with its neighbors.

Israel is a small country the size of New Jersey and is surrounded by countries that have been at war with it for decades. Despite this fact, Israel has made many attempts at peace toward its neighbors, but to no avail.

In 1993, in a show of good faith, Israel handed over much of its territory in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for peace. Today, the Palestinian Authority controls all West Bank cities, including many Jewish and Christian holy sites that Israelis can no longer visit. But Israel did not receive peace.

In 2005, Israel evacuated all Israeli citizens from Gaza, part of its historic homeland, in hope of creating good will on the Palestinian side and paving the way for an independent Palestinian state. Israel asked for nothing in return. Once again, the peaceful gesture did not work.

Since the 2005 withdrawal, the Islamist group Hamas increased the rocket attacks from Gaza. What the international community and Israel hoped would be a thriving Palestinian democracy has turned into a launching pad for terror. Hamas has since shot more than 12,000 rockets into southern Israel, where men, women and children must live in constant fear, and always in close proximity to bomb shelters.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is in talks with Hamas to create a joint Palestinian government. All the while, Hamas’s main sponsors—the Iranian regime—marches closer to a nuclear weapon, discriminates lethally against women and minorities and threatens to destroy the only Jewish state in the world.

This week, on more than 100 campuses around the world, including at Kent State University, students are uniting in support of Israel to show that Israel wants peace. In fact, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the U.S. Congress last year: “All six Israeli prime ministers since the signing of the Oslo Accords agreed to establish a Palestinian state, myself included.”

Indeed, polls show that Israelis support a two-state solution. In a recent OneVoice Movement poll, 78 percent of Israelis indicated they would be willing to accept a Palestinian state in historic Israel if it leads to peace.

Peace is attainable; it requires the Palestinians to come to the table with Israel to discuss attainable goals. It won’t happen overnight. Both sides need to make painful sacrifices. Let’s sit down and have real peace.

Contact Bobby Weitznerat [email protected].