Good news is hard to come by

Postive stories from the region are few and far between but they do exist and they do inspire some hope.

July 27, 2010 22:53
4 minute read.
Salam Fayyad.

Fayyad likes little girls 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Palestinians and Israelis spend a lot of time blaming each other. Sometimes, we can’t even remember what started the argument because the bad things that consume our attention happen so fast. So, it might be nice, once in a while, to look at things that are good. And each side does have some good in them.

Although Israelis refuse to recognize the Goldstone Report, Israel’s government has quietly begun prosecuting a few soldiers who violated the rights of Palestinian civilians. That’s good news, though maybe not the way many Palestinians would want.

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One soldier is expected to be prosecuted for killing two civilian women during the 22-day long Operation Cast Lead. News reports say the IDF “disciplined” another officer who ordered an air strike near a Beit Lahiya mosque that resulted in 15 dead and 40 others wounded.

Okay, it’s far from what the Goldstone Report determined were war crimes, but it does represent some form of justice.

Under pressure from US President Barack Obama, Israel will now permit many food and personal items to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip, banning only anything related to weaponry and building materials that could be used for the tunnels or manufacture of rocket launchers.

That it banned any kind of food, soap and even many medicines was not a good thing. But that it lifted the ridiculous bans is a positive move forward.

On the Palestinian side, no one built a monument for Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man accused and convicted of planning the PAN 103 bombing over Lockerbie Scotland. Megrahi was released last year on “compassionate grounds” that he was suffering from prostate cancer and was not expected to live long.

That he has lived longer may be a testament to great strides in medicine, but not much consolation to satisfy the anguish of the relatives of the 270 bombing victims.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has given interviews not only to Palestinian columnists like Fadi el-Salameen, the publisher of the moderatevoiced Web site, but he has also spoken at length about peace to Israeli journalists and American Jewish writers including Alon Ben-Meir, whose column “The Fayyad difference” (July 16) was published in The Jerusalem Post.

In the article, Ben-Meir said of Fayyad: “First, he stressed that militant resistance and violence have run their course. Committing acts of violence against the Israelis simply plays into their hands, offering justification for continued occupation and enabling Israel to link national security with occupation.”

Salameen reported at the moderate- voiced Maan News Agency based in Bethlehem that Fayyad ordered the creation of a committee with broad representation to investigate all government agency appointments to ensure extremists who embrace violence are not among those nominated to the positions.

I ADMIT it is not easy to find positive news stories in the region. It is so much easier to find stories of Israelis and Palestinians killing each other, calling each other terrible names and vowing to reject a fair and just peace based on two-states.

But we have to keep trying. Positive stories do not generate the same passion as fear-mongering and name-calling or the political blame game. Those stories need our help.

That’s why I am asking if you hear of a positive story, share it with me. I want to know. I can’t promise to write a whole column about it, but it would be nice to include a collection of positive stories in one column just to prove that good news is still out there and that hope is not completely dead.

There is a silver lining in every dark cloud, something good that we can salvage from the overabundance of bad. I’ve even found that silver lining in the darkness that surrounds me.

A group of extremist Palestinians in the United States have set up a hate Web site targeting me.

Why? Well, I am a Christian Palestinian.

My wife and son are Jewish.

I support compromise and oppose violence.

They really, really hate that I write for both and The Jerusalem Post – which is another reason why I love writing for both.

As you can imagine, I get ugly emails from Arabs and Jews every day complaining about something I’ve written. I can’t even repeat the things they call me. Fortunately, though, the hate site has also energized a lot of good people to contact me and express support.

Good words go a long way to encourage even the most challenged hope for peace.

But thanks to the haters, their attention has helped me sell a lot of copies of my humor book I’m Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America. In the end, “hate” can make “good” look that much better.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.

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