Vancouver / Burlington, Vermont – This week presents a unique opportunity to advance Arab-Israeli and US-Middle East relations as President Barack Obama makes his first official visit to Israel and Palestine.
The two of us writing this article, Mahmoud (21) from Hebron, and Gadi (52) from Tel Aviv, met this year at a conference in early March titled “Struggling with Peace.” It was organised by Peace It Together, a Canadian NGO that provides Israelis and Palestinians the opportunity to get to know and work with each other. We had both gone through a several-year-long process of getting to know the other and working towards peace in various ways on the ground. And at the conference, we quickly became friends.
We, Palestinians and Israelis, need a sea-change now at the grassroots level. And we need change at the top political levels that control law enforcement on the ground. The status quo feeds extremism on both sides.
… When the United States invests in negotiations with Iran, engages with the Muslim Brotherhood, supports democratic transitions, and urges progress in the peace process, some Israelis suspect it of misunderstanding the region or, worse, of naiveté. Yet my sense is that the president is anything but naïve. True, Israel lives in the region and we do not, and differences in outlook and different threat perceptions are inevitable byproducts of our respective locations.
But that doesn’t necessarily translate into divergent strategic pursuits, nor should it. And a principal goal of this trip is to clarify that point.
For more on this story, visit: What Obama Must Do in Israel – By Samuel R. Berger | Foreign Policy.