WHY ISRAELIS CARE ABOUT PEACE – AMBASSADOR MICHAEL OREN

Given our experience of disappointment and trauma, it’s astonishing that Israelis still support the peace process at all. Yet we do, and by an overwhelming majority

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AMBASSADOR MICHAEL OREN

By Michael B. Oren
Israeli Ambassador to The United States
The Los Angeles Times

Imagine that you’re a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers.

Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s.

Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you’ve seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks.

Picture all of that and you’ll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you’ll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.

Recent media reports, in Time magazine and elsewhere, have alleged that Israelis — who are currently experiencing economic growth and a relative lull in terrorism — may not care about peace.

According to a poll cited, Israelis are more concerned about education, crime and poverty — issues that resonate with Americans — than about the peace process with the Palestinians.

But such findings do not in any way indicate an indifference to peace, but rather the determination of Israelis to build normal, fruitful lives in the face of incredible adversity.

Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes.

We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected.

Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed.

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We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.

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