October 27, 2003

Seeking Middle East Peace

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Ghazi Brigieth, a member of the Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families For Peace, spoke to the Ithaca community on Saturday at Autumn Leaves Used Bookstore about the ongoing conflict and terror occurring in the Middle East. Brigieth joined the peace activist organization after he lost two of his brothers in separate clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Today, Brigieth travels around the world with an Israeli Jew companion, also a spokesperson for the organization, whom he earnestly refers to as his “brother.” Together, the Israeli Jew and the Muslim Palestinian spread the horror story that has been a part of their everyday lives and has more recently increased in intensity.

“There is no way to describe the situation, how we live there. There is no life. It is a dead life. [There are] only bodies moving with no future and no hope,” Brigieth said of his homeland on the West Bank of Palestine.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has brought about unthinkable hardships for the people living there, Brigieth said. Individuals there are devoid of any sort of control over their own lives: “We no longer have the power to move from the right side of the road to the left,” Brigieth said.

The majority of Palestinians, 65 to 70 percent according to Brigieth, are currently unemployed. According to a recent study done by the United Nations, most residents do not even make the two-dollar a day subsistence level — leaving many children undernourished as a result, Brigieth said. Those that try to make extra money by planting crops are left with nothing due to the Israeli controlled market which leaves no demand for locally grown produce, Brigieth added. “There is no medical insurance. [Everyone] must pay for medicine out of their own pocket,” Brigieth contested. “[Even then] the medicine is unavailable.”

Brigieth had plenty to say about the Israeli-Palestinian situation in a worldly context as well. “No one is doing anything. No one is supporting. They are all standing aside. Especially the government of this country,” Brigieth declared.

He related a recent incident while watching television news in this country; expecting to find up-to-date media coverage of the crisis in his native homeland, Brigieth found only news about the California recall election and the attack of Vegas performer Roy Horn by his show tiger.

Brigieth hopes for a change in this passive approach by the media towards his homeland conflict. He wants to “stop the killing and to get back to the negotiation tables with no delay.” He wondered, “when [the] leadership will know the meanings of the words ‘with no delay.'”

Fearing daily for his own childrens’ lives as well as the future lives of those living in an Israeli-ruled Palestine, Brigieth feels the urgency of the situation.

Brigieth’s own contribution to the solution is through his message of peace, emphasizing the need for a return to the idea of human brotherhood that has dissolved in a time of ethnic hostilities. Brigieth noted the importance of this issue in the creation of a resolution: “Religion will not accept compromise. We have to look to each other as human beings.”

Archived article by Gretchen Heckman