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Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Seek peace...and pursue it : Psalm 34:15

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I. Articles

An Israeli and a Palestinian who lost close relatives during "the blood feud between our peoples" explain why they are coming to the United States to urge it to do more to end the violence. Their views:

As published in USA Today

by Ghazi Brigit and Yitzhak Frankenthal
March 14, 2002

JERUSALEM - We have every reason to despise each other, to be mortal enemies. One of us is an Israeli whose son was kidnapped and killed five years ago by Hamas. The other is a Palestinian whose brother was killed by Israeli troops at a checkpoint in his village. But our grief unites us behind the same goal.

As part of a delegation representing 350 Palestinian and Israeli families whose loved ones were killed in the blood feud between our peoples, we are coming to the United States next week to plead with the Bush administration, the United Nations and the European Union to stop the insane violence that our leaders are unable - or unwilling - to prevent.

Many parents who have lost sons and daughters in this conflict are angry and demand revenge. We are no less angry with those who took our loved ones away, but we demand peace and reconciliation.

We are not diplomats, politicians or "experts" on the Middle East with Ph.D.s. We are experts on the price paid by the relatives of more than 1,400 Palestinians and Israelis killed in this conflict since the intifada began in September 2000. But we understand that our leaders are offering no solutions, no paths out of the darkness and back to the negotiating table.

That is why our parents' group calls for outside powers to step in more forcefully. If anyone has any better ideas - indeed, if anyone else has any good ideas - we have not heard them.

We are glad that U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni is finally back in the region trying to mediate, but that is not enough. The United States should lead a much more vigorous international diplomatic effort to bring about an immediate cease-fire. If that requires an international monitoring force to come between Israeli and Palestinian fighters, send such a force immediately. So many Palestinians and Israelis in our region are like angry, brawling kids who have lost their heads; they need grown-ups to declare and enforce a timeout.

And the United States, backed by the international community, needs to pressure, prod, badger - whatever is necessary - our leaders to sit down right now and make necessary compromises. If we, of all people, can put aside our bitterness and reach agreement and work together, our leaders have no excuse not to try.

Why should anyone listen to us? We hope the answer will be found in more than 1,000 coffins we plan to assemble Tuesday at the United Nations in New York City. The coffins represent those who have paid the price for the absence of peace. We want to prevent others from joining their ranks. This display, we hope, will be more convincing than all of the familiar analyses that explain why nothing can be done. For years, we have both heard the same political, historical and demographic reasons this conflict is too complicated to solve. The horrible reality of the coffins shows that these are not good reasons; they are bad excuses.

Everyone with any sense knows what the eventual answer is going to be. Someday, there will be two states for two peoples, living side by side, with secure and recognized boundaries. The only question is how many years, how many funerals, how many excuses, before we get there.

In these awful times, Palestinians, Israelis and Americans who care about our region are becoming numb. They cannot bear to think about the individual tragedies, the individual people who have been slaughtered. We insist that they remember. Because no other argument for peace and sanity seems to be working, we will make the argument of the coffins.

Ghazi Brigit and Yitzhak Frankenthal are members of the Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families Forum for Peace, an organization active in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Copyright 2002 USA Today-- All Rights Reserved.