(The following text is a slightly modified version of the essay broadcast at National Public Radio on April 12, 2002)
No place on earth has allowed a more dynamic and interactive global exchange of views than cyberspace. Visitors from more than 120 countries of all faiths and ideologies have been responding to the escalating crises in the Holy Land.
In the last two weeks there has been a dramatic surge in passionate discussions taking place on the message board – Many reflecting on the sufferings of the Palestinian people and demanding an end to Israeli aggressions. Many – disappointed in the role of the US government in this conflict lending it’s blind support to Israel.
The discussions flared up early this week after we posted a story about the death of a 21-year old Palestinian-American who was gunned down by Israeli soldiers in Ramallah last Friday. Suraida Saleh, a Palestinian-American born in Washington DC was shot when she and her husband and nine month old baby were driving to her father’s house for safety. The US State Department has yet to respond to this incident.
"Sad is an understatement." Says Ibraheem of Atlanta. He continues, "The ironic thing about the whole situation is that many Muslims believe that just because they are American citizens they will be protected by the American Government."
These past few weeks have also been a time of introspection – Muslims are debating what the larger Islamic community can do to stop the violence on both ends. Nabila of Los Angeles writes, "While I fully empathize with the suffering of Palestinians under the cruel Israeli occupation and support the fight for an independent state for Palestinians, I cannot see justification for the ‘suicide’ bombing and loss of innocent life.
A few days ago, IslamiCity’s discussion board had this comment from a non-Muslim.
"Until the bombings and fighting stop on both sides, each group is getting what they deserve." A Muslim sharply responded:
"Without analyzing the situation in detail, to equally blame both sides is the easy way out. If peace has to come to the Middle East, Israel has to bring it. How can Palestine offer peace when its people are expelled from their homes and their homes are demolished? How can Palestine offer peace if Israeli forces are constantly engaged in humiliating the Palestinians? How can Palestine offer peace when the innocent are being shot dead?
In the midst of the chaos and charged emotions the desire for peace is expressed in a poll at IslamiCity, which asks how the current crises may be best resolved.
Among the five options given for this question – Saudi Peace Plan, UN Resolutions, US Mediation, Oslo Accords and more War & Conflict – The majority of the people, 45%, selected the Saudi Peace Plan as the best option, 24% of the vote is spread over the other peace initiatives and the remainder chose to predict more War & Conflict.
Jews and Muslims have lived side by side in peace for centuries so why is there so much conflict between us now. After all there is so much in common between Islam and Judaism and there is so much opportunity for peace. Prophet Moses is among the most respected Prophets and is the most mentioned prophets in the Quran.
Back in Ramallah, the family of Palestinian-American Suraida Saleh say they had to temporarily bury her body in the parking lot of the local hospital since the morgue was overflowing with bodies. Hardly any attention was given to this incident by the US press and US Government.
We too believe that justice will prevail and the truth will be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We believe it is the hope and aspiration of humanity that the guarantees provided by the American constitution will be realized by all people struggling for freedom.
Today, I rest my case to the Divine and ask Him, the Almighty, for a speedy and miraculous intervention that will lead to just peace for all.