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Can Arabs and Jews Come Together for Peace, Rather than Separate for Violence?

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Can Jews and Arabs come together as committed to peace as they can gather separately in anger and emotion for revenge?

It's too easy to point a finger at each other and blame each other, saying the other started it. But, is it really that difficult to say that this conflict has been going on so long that there is no real beginning, no real blame, and no one to fault?

Can we simply say enough? Enough killing? Enough loss of life on both sides? Enough to violence? Enough to anger that drives revenge?

Thousands of Arab Americans have gathered in cities across the country outraged at the killing of Palestinians by Israel's military in the Gaza Strip. Can they also express the same outrage for the killing of Israeli civilians?

Israelis and Jews are standing firm defending Israel's assault in Gaza arguing that Hamas has fired rockets into Israel that have damaged property. Five Israelis have died while nearly 600 Palestinians have been killed?

Can Israelis and Jews really defend their responses of expressing anguish over the deaths of their own people while ignoring or justifying the deaths of the Palestinians?

Have we deteriorated so much as a people, Jews and Arabs, that we can simply turn away from the suffering of the other, and even justify it when confronted by pointing to the deaths on our sides?

Uglier than the massacres and bloodied scenes filled with body parts are the crowds of people who easily come together in anger and blame the other side while never assuming any blame themselves.

This is not a blameless conflict. But it is also not a conflict for which one side is to blame. No one alive today started this conflict. It started generations ago. Yet we are so easy to pick up the suffering from the past and to pile it on the suffering of today and chant for the suffering of others tomorrow.

We can be Jews, Arabs, Israelis or Palestinians, and continue to fight for our own side.

Or, we can be human beings. Compassionate human beings who instead of casting blame and seeking revenge, stop distinguishing between one death or a hundred deaths.

Stop distinguishing between a dead Israeli or a dead Palestinian.

Can we put our energy and our intelligence, our humanity and our principles together in one place, saying the same thing with the same goal.

Stop the fighting. Stop the violence. Stop the blame game. Stop the name calling. Stop the screaming. Stop the protests. Stop the hate.

Start the compassion. Start the understanding. Start the humanity. Start the peace.

I think we can. I hope we can.

As a Palestinian Arab, I'm a willing to stand with any Jew or Israeli who has the courage to stop blaming the other side. Stop defending violence of any kind. Stop the justification. Stop the killing. Stop the violence.

Stand together and focus on one answer. Peace. Respect for life.

We can recognize this is difficult. We can accept we have different views of history. We can accept that peace is not easy. But can we accept that not acting means more death? Can we accept that by pointing fingers of blame at each other, we are accomplices to the hatred that drives the carnage?

Can we accept that the price of not acting and remaining silent is more lost lives?

I cannot.

Ray Hanania is a an award winning Palestinian American columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com and by email at rayhanania@comcast.net.

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