The ancient philosopher Confucius warned “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” That sums up years of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, a never ending cycle of violence and killings.
Each time the Israelis or Palestinians launches an attack, it sets the stage for a response by the other side. This guarantees more loss of life for each.
The most recent fighting, in the first week of August, killed and injured more Palestinians and Israelis. They must break the cycle of violence, especially for children who are suffering from the stress of war and poverty.
The best philosophy to guide Israel and Palestine would come from President Abraham Lincoln who said “With malice toward none; with charity for all.”
Lincoln wanted to heal the United States from the Civil War. But there could be no healing or unity from seeking revenge. There certainly could not be peace if people were suffering in poverty. Only through love, charity and kindness could there be healing. That is what the Middle East needs today.
Children in Palestine have grown up knowing only war, fear and hunger. This has to change for there to be peace. War is never going to resolve any disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace is the only alternative.
There needs to be a focus on reducing hunger and poverty in Gaza and the West Bank. How can there be peace when families struggle to even afford basic foods like bread.
According to the UN World Food Program (WFP) one third of the Palestinian population, 1.79 million people, suffers from hunger. WFP says “Of those 1.1 million Palestinian are severely food insecure. Most of them (90 percent) live in the Gaza.”
Many Palestinian families depend on WFP assistance so they can have bread and other basic foods. The recent outbreak of violence led to more people needing food assistance. With food prices so high because of the Ukraine war, providing relief is even more challenging for WFP and other relief agencies. More funding is needed to help the poor in Gaza and the West Bank.
Food and other supplies must be able to flow freely. The occupation and blockades by Israelis must be ended. Violence must be rejected by everyone.
Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa“ For many children, this was the fifth conflict they have lived through in the past 15 years. Many children are already living with the long-term psychological impact of continued exposure to violence.”
The only way out of the never ending conflict is through peace talks and charity for the poor.
Save the Children says “Only a negotiated agreement between all parties to the conflict will bring about a lasting peace and promote dignity and security for both Israelis and Palestinians — and ensure a better future for both Israeli and Palestinian children.”
Everyone can help by supporting the relief efforts of WFP, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, United Nations Relief and Works Agency and other charities in Palestine. Eliminating hunger and poverty in the region will go a long way toward making a lasting peace and economic development. Likewise, Lincoln’s message of charity is also desperately needed in Yemen and Syria because of extreme hunger caused by civil wars.
Abraham Lincoln’s legacy once inspired Americans to feed the hungry in WWII devastated Europe. The 1948 Abraham Lincoln Friendship Train collected donations that were sent overseas to feed children and their families. Today Lincoln’s message of unity and charity can also help bring food and peace to the Middle East.
William Lambers is the author of The Road to Peace and partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Newsweek, History News Network and many other news outlets.