How not to derail efforts for peace PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 August 2014 11:31



I caught the interview on BBC of Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas. This was at the time the second truce was being worked out  in the Gaza fighting. At the end of the interview, which was done by BBC anchor Stephen Sackur,  I remember two distinct feelings:  great appreciation for Sackur’s incredible calmness and a conviction that the hostilities between the Palestinians and the Israelis will not be solved so long as there are leaders on either side who are like Khaled Meshaal.

If I had been in Sackur’s place I probably would have been fit to burst holding in my impatience with the way the interviewee answered the questions he was asked. No matter what question was asked he would somehow bring in the point of the Palestinians having to fight to claim their homeland and how the Israelis continued to abuse their firepower supremacy by shelling civilian targets.  When Sackur asked how Hamas could explain the finding that a school in the Gaza was found to have 10 missile rockets in place, somehow Meshaal sidestepped the question and was  back on his soapbox of  the tyranny of the Israeli occupiers of the Palestinian homeland.

Until very recently I was predisposed to lean towards the Israelis in this long on-going conflict. But reading a novel by an American best selling author  made me realize that  the Israelis have not always been the heroic  followers of Moses; they also have to account  for a lot of the issues that have kept this conflict in the headlines over these many years.

Exposed as I have been in my volunteer work to the vision/ideal of “dialogue” I could not help but find  Meshaal’s  position and answers to the questions as those coming from a one-track  perspective. Naturally he will speak for the Palestinian perspective. Naturally he needs to protect the interests of the Palestinians. He does not have to be politically correct in his words; he does not have to take on the style of a diplomat.   But I did expect him to be genuine and accepting of the fact that in any conflict there are adversarial sides. To me however he came across as someone who believes that only one side is correct, and that one side is his side.

If Meshaal is the spokesperson of the Palestinian side and he continues to be so, I doubt that this issue will find a solution in my  lifetime. This is for me a great concern because we ourselves are going through the process for crafting the peace in Mindanao. If our language of negotiation continues to be peppered with terms like “tyranny”, “marginalization”, “ exploitation” , etc  even when the peace papers are signed we will continue to feel that we are still in an undeclared war with each other. Surely the seeds of peace do not sprout in such a soil.

Let us learn whatever lessons we can pick up from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and make our crafting of the peace in Mindanao a genuine one.  Most of all let there be congruence in what we think, what we feel and what we say.