On Thursday, October 12, concerned students from both Jewish and Arab descent organized a candlelight vigil on Kogan Plaza to honor the victims of violence in the Middle East. After both Hebrew and Islamic pleas for peace were uttered, candles were lit and names of both Arab and Israeli victims were read. Members of both faiths congregated together in a silent moment of prayer. For once, I actually believed it was possible for members of both groups to put aside their differences and truly unite to express desire for peace. However, I was wrong.
After the vigil, tears were shed and people embraced. As I stood there in the awe of the moment, I was approached and given a flyer, which said something along the lines of come protest the Israelis’ senseless killing of Palestinians. Forgive me for not recalling the exact words, but I was so livid, I could not even keep the flyer. As if this was not enough to mar the beauty of the situation, I was handed another flyer filled with statistics about the number of Arabs who were senselessly beaten and killed by Israeli soldiers.
Regardless of faith or beliefs, we should all be appalled by such actions. The whole purpose of the evening was to make a statement that the violence had gone on long enough and that both sides were ready to unite in hope of peace. The tone of the vigil was meant to be one of universal compassion and sorrow; it was not meant to be a chance for either side to promote propaganda, anger or violence.
Even as a young Jew, I do sympathize with the Palestinians. However, I believe it is most important to remember that innocent people from both sides are being unnecessarily slaughtered. In different instances, both groups have acted to promote violence and conflict. However, an inappropriate action does not always warrant retaliation. I believe that since both sides have participated, both must be held partially responsible.
Israel was established 50 years ago and conflict has raged ever since. In 2000 isn’t it time to finally stop focusing only on the injustices committed against our own people and realize that society as a whole is suffering? Regardless of faith, beliefs or differences, there is no reason for an innocent person to die or be harmed.
I would love nothing more than for the Israelis and Arabs to agree to some long-standing peace agreement. Both the Arabs and Jews have a right to exist. Even though the two faiths have many vastly different beliefs, it is important to focus on their similarities and their common desire to end violence in the Middle East. If Jerusalem is such a holy city to both religions, why are we tainting it with blood, violence, hatred and destruction?
Therefore, I am issuing this plea for peace. For decades we have tried to create peace, but we must realize that peace will never occur unless we approach the situation as a united front with a common goal. Instead of trying to fight with each other and promote individual causes, we must learn to be tolerant and accept the other group. In my opinion, enough injustice has come to both sides. It is time to try to turn all of the negative events of the past half-century into a positive accomplishment. If this conflict is ever going to be resolved, we must unite and truly learn to embrace each other as equals.
-The writer is a sophomore majoring in marketing and human resources.