In the torrent of hate propaganda,
a tiny voice is speaking out for
decency and humanity and asking
others to join. - mideastweb.org
Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it is the only
thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
What the rest of us can do:
Since we came under attack on 9-11, only our armed forces and
first responders have been called to duty. Most of us haven't been
asked to help in making the world a safer place, but we do have
the power to make a difference by standing up for our highest
If America’s goal is to promote hope and progress as the
alternatives to hatred and violence, then there can be few more
patriotic acts for average Americans than to stand shoulder-to-
shoulder with those trying to build a mandate for non-violence in
the Middle East.
We have a chance to show what's in our hearts and to present a
fuller view of our country with a clear, unifying affirmation of
America’s highest ideals. Americans have every interest in
advancing the message that progress can come from engaging
in constructive dialogue and marching peacefully, not from
nihilistic acts of terrorism. We can demonstrate that Americans
believe all citizens of the globe are created equal and have the
right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is what we
wish for all the world's people, including Israelis, Palestinians and
The American public can offer a strong show of support to those
who will work for peace by joining in simultaneous peace
marches in America, Israel and the Palestinian territory. This
won't be just a single demonstration, but a campaign that is
sustained over a period of weeks, with a growing number of U.S.
cities participating each weekend.
Importantly, Americans won't just be marching for the pie-in-the-
sky idea of peace. They’ll be marching to support the efforts of
the Palestinians and Israelis marching at the same time and
committed to taking the first steps to peace together.
All sides will be saying that they share a responsibility to
resolve the conflict and wish to do so without more bloodshed. All
will be expressing a readiness to engage in dialogue and to take
constructive steps for peace if the message of non-violence is
heeded. All will be saying that they’re willing to do their part to
work together for peace.
The effort will carry only a positive message that Palestinians,
Israelis and Americans are ready to take the first steps to a better
future together. People won’t be pointing blame at any group or
protesting any specific government policy or official. They’ll be
marching for a future of hope and progress, not hatred and
The simultaneous marches will act as a confidence-building
measure that will create a climate in which constructive dialogue
can advance. They will show that the Palestinian, Israeli and
American people all want to be partners in peace.
The marches will be, in essence, a show of hearts that will help
start the process of healing from the past years of violence.
They'll give all sides reason to believe that progress toward a
better future is possible. This shift in attitudes could help set in
motion the kind of political changes necessary for peaceful
engagement to move forward.
As the number of marchers on all sides grows, more people will
decide to choose hope over hatred and will be convinced to join
the effort, creating momentum for peace.
This effort won’t advocate any specific agreement or target
specific grievances. The only goal is ending the violence and
getting the parties talking constructively. Our only desire is that
Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace, security and
The effort will only work if it rises above politics and unites
Americans of diverse religions, backgrounds and sympathies.
There is no room for partisanship and politics are beside the
point: There is no difference between Democratic and
Republican policy toward the Middle East. This effort is entirely
consistent with President Bush's stated goal to promote freedom
and democracy in the Middle East.
This is an effort in which even staunch U.S. proponents and
critics of the war in Iraq can join forces on behalf of our common
ideals. Both groups want to promote hope and progress as the
alternatives to hatred and violence. Both believe deeply that all
citizens of the globe are created equal and have an inalienable
right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Imagine the powerful message it would send for diverse groups
of Americans to march behind banners such as these:
Americans for peace in the Middle East, Arab-Americans for
peace in the Middle East, Israeli-Americans for peace in the
Middle East, Republicans for peace in the Middle East,
Democrats for peace in the Middle East, Military families for
peace in the Middle East, Veterans for peace in the Middle East.
Americans have never before devoted such energy to the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. Such a major effort would have been highly
unlikely in the past, but these are unusual times. Americans are
worried about terrorism, concerned about the troops in Iraq and
at odds with the way the U.S. is viewed in the world. Americans
will embrace an opportunity to feel good about America, to stand
up for her highest ideals and to make a difference in making the
world a safer place.
Every American will be able to make an important contribution in
promoting hope and progress as the alternative to hatred and
violence. It will require a modest commitment of energy on a
single day; but all of the efforts in concert will deliver a powerful
message with the potential to have a profound impact.
Palestinians, Israelis and Americans will join in simultaneous
marches the first weekend. As Israelis and Palestinians continue
to march, two different U.S. cities will hold marches the second
weekend. Three other U.S. cities will hold marches on the third
weekend, and so on, until perhaps dozens of U.S. cities have
This effort will provide a shining example to the world that non-
violence can yield results in the most bitter of conflicts. Nothing
would do more to marginalize those who embrace terrorism as a
strategy for achieving political aims.
Some might think that this effort is so ambitious that it's not even
worth trying. We believe that any idea with the power to convince
people to choose hope over hatred is an idea that must be tried.
The biggest hurdle is just getting people to believe that it is
To actually get this effort off the ground we will need people who
see potential in this idea and have the brains and energy to try
and make it work. The first step is putting together an
organization. Eventually, this will become a decentralized effort
and we'll need people to help get the message out and organize
in their own communities. Please send an e-mail to
contact@FirstStepsToPeace.org if you want to help make this
happen, and please mention this effort to others who might be