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Can this viral photo help end the fighting between Israel and Hamas?

Peace in the Middle East: What if love is the answer? #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies

Will the Israelis and Palestinians ever find peace?

“I think that my son is the second generation, if not the third, to be indoctrinated with the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been imposed on us from above. A bit like terrible weather, which we can talk about, cry about, even write songs about, but which we can't do anything to change,” Etgar Keret wrote in a recent op-ed. Instead of peace, he argued in our Opinion pages, why not give compromise a chance?

“The word ‘compromise’ insists on the same preconditions from all those who use it,” he explained. “They must first agree to concessions, maybe even more — they must be willing to accept the assumption that beyond the just and absolute truth they believe in, another truth may exist. And in the racist and violent part of the world I live in, that's nothing to scoff at.”

Sulome Anderson touches on these themes in a piece for New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer about a photo she posted July 13 with a simple but poignant message. In it Anderson, an Arab American, is seen kissing her Israeli boyfriend while holding up a piece of paper that reads “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” It’s since gone viral. (By the way, this is her dad.)

“This isn’t just about politics. This is about people,” she writes, explaining that she and her boyfriend don’t see eye to eye on everything but “love that the [#JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies] movement emphasizes the human connections between people the world has taught to hate each other.”

“Some have criticized us for trivializing what’s going on in Gaza. They say this conflict isn’t about hatred between Jews and Arabs; it’s about a powerful country oppressing a weaker people. (To be clear, that’s how I feel as well.)” Still, she argues, “We wanted to spread an idea that wouldn’t polarize, something that would be heard not just by the people who agree with us but by those who don’t. Militancy and anger haven’t helped bring this to an end. Maybe, we thought, it was time for a different approach.”

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

Meantime, opinionators in our pages have continued to weigh in with a range of strategies for overcoming the violence. Among them:

Demilitarize Hamas

“The key to ending the current battle between Hamas and Israel — and preventing more fighting in the future — is the demilitarization of Gaza,” argued Michael B. Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. “Simply put, Hamas without rockets is not the same Hamas.”

Address the root causes

“Israel cannot win this war, primarily because it is fighting only the symptoms of the conflict with the Palestinians — rocket launching — not the underlying causes, which are the Gaza blockade and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” wrote Ibrahim Sharqieh, arguing that “the heavy bombardment of Gaza only deepens the Israelis’ problem rather than solving it.”

“It is delusional to assume that when the current battle ends, both parties will return to their communities to resume normal lives,” he said.

Tap into the wisdom of youth

“Before leaving, we spontaneously reached for the same large orange hanging from the tree above us,” remembers Ben Kamin, a rabbi, in his op-ed “We were boys, we were friends, we were enemies.”

“We peeled it and shared the slices. How sticky and sweet it tasted. We buried the peels and the seeds in the ground under the tree. We promised each other that one day, when peace between our people came, we’d return to see if a tree had taken root and grown there. … I wonder where Ahmed is and what we would say to each other if we were to meet again. Might it be possible for us to reach reconciliation now? Would he remember that we once knew more about peace than the grown-ups on either side of our valley?”

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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