In the light of the latest eruption of violence and tragic human loss at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and other Palestinian territories, a simple but vital question poses itself. What is Middle East peace in the minds of Israelis and Americans? Can a just and lasting peace really be achieved, or is it only wishful thinking and another political game carefully masterminded and played to serve solely the interests of ambitious expansionism under the umbrella of peace and security? I guess even the most experienced of diplomats and politicians would be perplexed in their search for a reasonably satisfactory answer.

While the peace process is continuously on and off track, the race for more Jewish settlements has never been more aggressive, Arab land is systematically expropriated, homes are demolished, expulsions of peoples is conducted on a daily basis, holy shrines are arrogantly desecrated before the very eyes of the international community and all this most conveniently is taking place under the slogan of peace and stability.

On the other hand, no decent human being on earth should ever doubt, that for the families of all Palestinian martyrs and victims of Israeli atrocities, peace is nothing but a fake signature to be recorded in history. Peace is nothing but a daily reminder of the pain, suffering and humiliation they've been exposed to for decades under the rule of occupation. Hopes for peace have been shattered, because people like Ariel Sharon and his followers nurture nothing but irrevocable hatred for Palestinians and Arab Islamic values. Sharon's latest provocation is nothing but a repetition and a painful reminder of the massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, still stained with the blood of civilians, innocent of wrongdoing. Today, hopes for peace are actually dead, because a defenseless child, seeking shelter from Israeli bullets is brutally shot in cold blood by the light trigger fingers of Israeli soldiers.

Ironically, such brutality and cruelty were captured in a snapshot for the world and human rights activists to see and pass an honest judgement. I wonder what they'll have to say, and what Israel's cynical excuse will be this time. Should the PNA expect an official apology, as Minister Abed Rabo stated before a group of journalists — he should really know better than that.

Terms such as apology and forgiveness are simply absent from the Israeli lexicon. Israel knows only how to demand forgiveness for injustices committed against its people more than 50 years ago and perpetrate historical injustice on another people who have absolutely no connection with their calamity.

Anyhow, let us remind ourselves, that being able to forgive is a rare quality
befitting only the strong and honorable. Israel, most definitely does not qualify for this category, and peace on its terms is to be achieved at the cost of innocence. Is this acceptable to the international community?

Rumiana M. Nuseibeh

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