women and peace


Two peace activists
- one Palestinian, one Israeli -
have written to George W. Bush

September 16, 2001

Dear President Bush,

We, a Palestinian woman and an Israeli woman, are writing to express our grief and sympathy at the pain caused to the American people by these recent terrible events. Indeed, these are crimes against all human beings who honor life. We offer our deepest condolences for the great loss, and offer our hand in any way that we can be helpful.

We are also extremely sad and sorry that some Palestinians applauded this crime. These are very few, but their terrible words are being used to justify generalizations and attacks against all Arabs, Palestinians in particular. Most Palestinians, however, know what suffering and pain mean, especially to innocent victims and their families. Through the course of more than three decades of the occupation of its land and homes by Israel, Palestinians have experienced a subjugation of its people that is not consonant with the values of decent people anywhere, and to which the United States has acquiesced by its silence and even supported by its military aid. And yet many of us participated in official and unofficial solidarity gatherings that took place throughout our region to condemn the crime against the American people and extend our condolences. Working for world peace means being able to see past the immediate events, seeking to end the cycle of violence, and speaking out against hate-fostering stereotypes.

President Bush, we of the Middle East are too well experienced with the cycle of strike and counterstrike that has characterized the conflict between our peoples. Israelis and Palestinians alike have witnessed the futility of sustaining a cycle of violence. While the perpetrators of this crime must be found and brought to trial, killing them creates martyrs, breeds new terrorists, and endangers the lives of innocent bystanders.

Mr. President, as you exercise world leadership, we implore you to reach deeply into your heart to find the actions that will increase the allies for peace, rather than push our opponents into greater bitterness. As our Jewish, Christian and Islamic heritages instruct us, "One who destroys the life of another destroys the entire world" - a teaching that appears in the sources of all three religions.

We are two of many Palestinians and Israelis who refuse to be enemies. We ask you to join us in this effort, and stay your hand from further violence and destruction.

Sumaya Farhat-Naser
Peace and human rights activist, Bir Zeit, Palestine

Gila Svirsky
Peace and human rights activist, Jerusalem, Israel

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