18 July-2014, The Guardian: Insanity, as Einstein said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We Palestinians and Israelis have experienced many destructive wars and the result is always the same: more deaths, more terrible injuries, more bloodshed, more animosity and more hatred. What do we expect to be the result of any war?
The current conflict has led to at least 260 people being killed, more than 1,600 severely wounded, more than 2,300 Israeli air strikes, more than 1,300 rockets fired from Gaza and at least 600 houses and institutions demolished and destroyed. The children of both sides are traumatised and all aspects of daily life paralysed. The Palestinians are under attack while millions of Israelis facing attack are forced to hide in fear in bomb shelters. But the consequences of war go far beyond what we see on our screens. What we don’t see is 10 times what is visible and both sides are suffering.
After the killing of my three daughters by an Israeli shell in January 2009 I concluded that if my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I accept their loss. I promised that I would continue to fight with the only means available to me: wisdom, courage, strong words and meaningful action.
But what I learned from that war that scarred my family so irreparably was that all of us (Palestinians and Israelis) take a defensive position to justify our acts. This originates from fear and from past experience. Only when we start to take responsibility and reconcile ourselves to new thinking will we get a different result.
Conflict is the result of fear, mistrust and suspicion. We need to smash these artificial barriers we have created in our minds because nothing will change until we change what is in our own hearts, minds and souls.
I understand intimately the meaning of unbearable suffering, loss, the absence of security and what it is to live in terror. And I understand and feel the suffering of the Israelis who have lost loved ones and are forced to live in fear. But what is the best way for Palestinians and Israelis to resume hope and life? We need to heal our people and close the wound completely, not in stages or in ways that leave part of it open.
Nothing is impossible but we need to act before it becomes irreversible. Palestinians and Israelis have been angry for a long time but we need to ask what our anger has achieved? It has brought destruction and injustice to ourselves and to others. When the war ends, and I hope it happens soon, all will celebrate the victory but in reality, all are losers from war.
What kind of victory produces orphans or maimed children and wounds to the soul that never heal? As a wounded, bereaved father who lost his three beloved children I feel the suffering of all human beings but I call for an end to this bloodshed.
This is a moment in history that must be captured. The hope and the future safety and freedom of Israel are linked to the security, safety, freedom and future of Palestinians. We are like conjoined twins and any harm induced to one will impact the other.
The courageous thing for both sides is to embrace the dignity, grace and strength of the other. We have no choice but to work together to heal our wounds, wipe our tears and, while learning the lessons of the past, to look forward.
Let us build a new generation that believes advancing human civilisation is a joint project and that the most sacred things in the universe are humanity and freedom.