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Our Opinion: Don't give up hope

March 31, 2002

This weekend has been marred by escalating violence in the Middle East, leaving many to wonder if there ever can be peace there. Can two peoples — Israelis and Palestinians — with so much hatred toward each other throughout the ages co-exist as two nations on a plot of land barely large enough for one? The answers do not come easily.

There may be thousands of miles between our desert community and theirs, but as we saw Sept. 11, the world is much smaller than anyone could have imagined. We are far from immune to the violence that has become a regular occurrence in the Middle East.

This weekend particularly, when Christians celebrate Easter and Jews the Passover, faiths that share the site of their origins with the Muslim religion, we cannot give up on peace in the land many call holy.

Each day the media delivers horrible images and descriptions of life being lost. Most recently a terrorist walked into a hotel in Israel and blew himself up, killing 20 people there to celebrate Passover and injuring at least 100 others. On Friday a Palestinian teen strapped on explosives and detonated them, killing herself and two Israelis.


In response to these attacks, Israel sent its military force into Palestinian-controlled territory and cornered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his compound in Ramallah. Again, lives on both sides were lost: five Palestinians and two Israelis. Saturday there was another death, this time an Israeli slain in an attack by Palestinian gunmen on Israeli police.

And so the story continues. The violence seems endless and the Middle East appears to be moving toward an all-out wa,r even as Arab nations offer their own peace plan and the United States calls for a ceasefire as it attempts to broker peace. The United Nations, backed by the United States, on Friday voted on a resolution calling for Israel to pull its troops out of Palestinian cities. Syria boycotted the vote, seeking instead a resolution that did not condemn Palestinian suicide bombings.

National commentators have questioned whether it is too late for peace, that the chance for a peaceful resolution died long ago. We can't accept that.

How do you reach peace? Many have tried and failed. But violence and retaliation only fuel more violence and retaliation.

In essence, in the simplest of terms, one side has to extend an olive branch and the other must accept it. Two nations have to accept that each has a right to exist, and the world community must rally support. No peace offer, no peace brokering will work if the people of Israel and the people of Palestine are unwilling to cooperate.

It is not too late for a peaceful resolution. War is not the only answer. Death and destruction are never the answer.

Especially this weekend, the holiest in the Christian faith, let us urge there be peace in the Middle East and the world, and all people of faith should be praying hard for peace. We may be a great distance from the Holy Land, but we are part of the world community. As we go about our daily lives we must never forget that.

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