Letter: An unapologetic call for peace

Kristin Leuchtag

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Several days ago I was told by a good friend that he was warned not to come near me. That I was dangerous, aggressive, conniving and that I would inadvertently stab him. I don’t know the person telling him this. They don’t know me. We’ve never seen each other. The only thing they knew about me was that I’m Jewish and he is Muslim. You can imagine how I felt hearing this. At first, I was damaged by it. Then I started to think about it from their point of view.

If I was shoved into a room with a large group of Palestinians, I would probably feel a little uneasy. Is this fair? Possibly not, but with the Intifada happening in Israel right now, that fear is there. For those of you who don’t know what’s going on in Israel and Palestine, it is one of the most complicated conflicts going on in our world. Terrorist attacks are plaguing Israel, people are dying on both sides of the conflict and everyone is scared.

This conflict may be thousands of miles away physically but it has bled across the Atlantic and transcended onto our campuses. I do not back away from the love of my country. I love Israel and consider it my other home. That being said, I do not sit around plotting the downfall of Palestinian students, just like I doubt they do that towards me. There is a peace movement happening throughout Israel and the United States right now. People are writing “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” on social media and public bus stops. The amazing thing is the positivity this movement is eliciting. What does this show? That Jews and Muslims don’t naturally hate each other. It isn’t a genetic defect, we are not born hating each other, and we all want a safe place for ourselves and our families. We are not that different.

Hopefully, with time and acceptance we can learn to love each other as human beings. We are the next generation. We are the future. Our parents made their decisions, had their successes and mistakes. Now, it is our turn. The choice comes down to whether we want to perpetuate a hate culture, lose future children and family members, and cause the blood shed on both sides. I’m calling for peace. I’m calling for open dialogue, whether it means we agree or agree to disagree. Our future depends on it.

— Kristin Leuchtag, undergraduate student in public health

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Letter: An unapologetic call for peace