Here’s what struck me about this special panel on Middle East peace that Bill Clinton moderated: it actually focused on the peace, and not the process. The President joked that somebody else in his family was trying to figure out where on the land to draw the line, he wanted us to talk about what needed to happen with the people after that line was drawn.

There were a lot of pursed lips and furrowed brows when he said that. It made me realize just how much attention is paid to the details of the process, and how little we think about the actual peace. Which is to say, how people from different faiths, nationalities, and narratives are going to live together on a pretty small parcel of land.

CGI 2010 Special Session: Middle EastThe most hopeful part of the conversation, for me, was when Shimon Peres used the illustration of Israeli and Palestinian doctors operating together, saving lives together, in hospitals.

“In Israel, 20 percent of our citizens are Arabs. And it’s not simple — for them for us, but for one place. There is no hospital in Israel where you don’t have Arab doctors and Arab patients. And, nobody knows — not of the patients and not of the doctors who is operating them — I mean, if a Druze would see an Arab with a knife coming close to him, he would be alarmed. But in the hospital, please. And I ask myself, ‘If we can live in peace in the hospitals, why can’t we live in peace out of the hospitals.’”

We hear frequently the stories of the suicide bombers and the settlers. We read about the squabbles of the diplomats. We get bogged down in the details and made cynical by the seemingly endless failures. But with a single example, Peres illuminated just how much Jews, Christians, and Muslims have in common, pointed out just how well Israelis and Palestinians already work together. It’s enough to keep me thinking past the process, and into the peace.


Eboo PatelEboo Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core. He’s the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation and writes regularly for The Faith Divide blog on The Washington Post. He’s also served on President Obama’s Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.


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5Reflections

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Maybe the peace in the hospitals is not as clear as you seem to think.

I have a friend who is a Jewish physician in an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem. They routinely worked to save the lives of both Jewish and Arab civilians wounded in terrorist attacks. What's amazing to me is that they also worked to save the lives of the wounded terrorist attackers.

She was outraged when one of her Arab peers in medical school, now serving with her in the hospital, told her that he would not act to save the lives of an Israeli soldier.

Thank you to all of you who dedicate your lives to promoting peace and positive evolution inn the world. This process provides a wonderfully positive tone, reestablishing the flame of hope in the bleakness of today's world.

A badly needed window of hope and optimism. Great work.

thanks for this. very interesting. superordinate goals and values are the way to go. btw, Peres doesn't say 'if a Druze would see an Arab", but if "a Jew would see an Arab." His accent makes it hard to understand, but listen to it again. Plus, Jew as opposed to druze makes a lot more sense.

This is so heart warming! I believe in the possibility of peace and I try to live it in my own life day by day adding my will and my love to the rising world peace consciousness. Thank you for this inspiring message.

apples