One of my Israeli Jewish readers wrote me the following – it is typical of a lot of responses I receive:“How can you solve the problem of the conflict if you don’t understand where it all comes from? Gershon, you talk about making peace, and I, the small citizen, ask with whom? With people who declare, day and night, that their goal is to exterminate the State of Israel and throw the Jews into the sea and take their daughters and their property? With those people who, with all of their heart, believe that the ‘State of Palestine’ includes Haifa, Acre, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba and Eilat? With those people who, all the time, engage in terror and terror, and who refuse to build for themselves a normal life?”These are good questions, and I know that many people ask them. In fact, go to any conflict zone in the world, and you will hear people on both sides of any conflict asking the very same questions. Go to Ramallah or Bethlehem or Jenin, and you will hear people asking “who do you want us to make peace with? The people who stole our land? The people who turned us into refugees? Those who kill us every day? Arrest our men and children in the middle of the night? Those who keep two million of our brothers and sisters in prison in Gaza? Those who burn our olive trees, our mosques, build settlements and keep us in cages? With those people, you want us to make peace?I have heard it all before, every day, on both sides of the conflict. My experience, for more than 40 years, is that people on both sides of the conflict, overwhelming majorities of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, declare: We want peace, but they don’t!My friend Prof. Mohammed Dajani, the founder of Wasatia, a moderate Islamic movement, wrote to me: “How can you solve the problem of the conflict, if you don’t understand not only where it all comes from but the nature of the conflict? Ordinary Israelis are not alone in wondering with whom can one make peace, since ordinary Palestinians feel the same.“Peace can be reached by empowering the moderates and undermining the maximalists on both sides. Current leaders and politicians on each side rule out the possibilities of normalization and negotiations because they believe they would benefit more from the status quo. However, should we look beyond those leaders to the ordinary man and woman in the street people and the civil society, you will find your peace partner.“The feelings of fear and hate of the other should be replaced with trust and respect for the other. The spirit of moderation would undermine extremist Palestinians and Israelis who do not recognize the rights and identity of the other. Maps of both sides do not acknowledge the other. There is terror committed by both sides.“Palestinians believe it is the Israelis who are denying them the opportunity to build for themselves a normal life by the oppressive occupation policies and practices. There is a huge asymmetry of power between both sides, and it is Israel that can decide whether to keep the deadlock or to break it to achieve a just peace settlement.”Of course, there are extremists on both sides of the conflict. Many ordinary people, on both sides, would like to wake up in the morning to the complete nonexistence of the other side living in this land. In their dreams they simply disappear.But most Israelis and Palestinian actually do live in reality and do understand that the removal of the other side from this land is not going to happen. Most Israelis and Palestinians would actually like to live in peace, but we have gone so far down the path of no trust, it is not easy to return to believing that peace is possible.Israel and the PLO signed six agreements during the Oslo peace process. All of the agreements were breached substantively by both sides. Israel and the PLO never signed a peace agreement. The Oslo agreements were process agreements, designed to lead us to peace. But we never reached the point in negotiations where we signed on the bottom line “end of conflict” – no more war, no more bloodshed. We never resolved all of the core issues: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, etc.Each side blames the other for the failure.Israel says that the Palestinians are not interested in peace, because they don’t really want to take responsibility for themselves in their own state. Israel says the Palestinians want only to throw the Jews into the sea, because the Palestinians believe that the Jews are foreign invaders, colonialists who stole their land.Palestinians say that, since 1948, Israel has been working systematically to remove the Palestinians from Palestine. The Israelis work to force the Palestinians off their land, they build settlements, make life impossible for them and encourage them to leave. Look at what they have done in the areas they now plan to annex – they have removed the indigenous Palestinians from their land and homes and have stolen their water, making it impossible to live there.This is the perception of both sides regarding the other. The sad truth is that it is completely logical and reasonable to view our reality in this way.IT IS very difficult to build trust when is has been totally destroyed. When you sign an agreement and it has been breached, why would you return to negotiate again?There are so many victims in this conflict that it seems at times that we have all adopted the mentality of victimhood. Many meetings between Israelis and Palestinians begin with mutual accusations and competitions of suffering.There is a lot of fear on both sides of the conflict line. There is a lot of hatred. There is also a lot of ignorance about the real people and the reality that both sides live in.I cross borders. I travel openly on both sides of the conflict line and I go all over.Some of my Jewish readers wish to send me to Gaza. Believe me, if I were allowed, I would travel there tomorrow. I haven’t been to Gaza since 2007. I go all over the West Bank. I have probably been in most of the cities, towns, villages and refugee camps there. I go in my own car. I go in peace and I am received in peace. Speaking Arabic is obviously an advantage, and almost everywhere I go, I know people and I am welcomed into their homes.I also go all over Israel and meet its people from all walks of life.I live in peace and I know that peace is possible. When it will be the will of the people, we will make it the will of the politicians, too. We have a lot of work to do.The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and its neighbors. His latest book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, was published by Vanderbilt University Press and is now available. It will soon appear in Arabic.