11-15-09 My candidacy for president of Palestine is a campaign for peace

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My candidacy for president of Palestine is a campaign for peace
By Ray Hanania –
– In 33 years of political journalism and election campaigning in America, I’ve learned that no one can predict an election outcome. Surprising things that people did not expect usually happens. And longshots with no hope of winning oftentimes do win. So with all that in mind, I am announcing my candidacy for President of Palestine.

It has several goals. The last of which is to actually become Palestine’s president. First and foremost is my declaration that peace based on compromise is the only future for Palestinians and Israelis.

There is no future for Palestinians or Israelis with today’s situation. The Israelis have turned to the hard conservative right, rejecting real peace and believing they can have everything while Palestinians remain driven by anger and emotion and very little logic.

Sometimes anger is soothed by revenge, but suffering is never avenged by violence. Rejecting peace is the foundation of violence and both Israelis and Palestinians are guilty of rejecting peace each for their own misguided, anger-driven reasons.

So someone has to step up to the plate and say what needs to be said if only to give the people an alternative.

Two states, one Israel and one Palestine is the only answer. It always was and always will be. It doesn’t matter that Palestinians rejected two-states in 1948 when they fought to destroy the Jews or that Israel rejected two-states in 1948 also when they fought but failed to take over the whole country.

Two states, based on land for peace. Israel abandons its hunger for Palestinian land and Palestinians abandon their own hunger for Israel.

Two states, based on the premise of building from ashes rather than turning what remains into ashes, which is where we are all headed at the moment. We just don’t see the end. Although continued suffering and continued fear is in fact an endless ending. There is no end to tragedy driven by vengeance, but tragedy can end when there is hope.

Two states with both sides accepting the inevitable. A sharing of Jerusalem, an end to the Israeli settlements, compromise on the Palestinian Right of Return, and both committed to non-violent and genuine negotiations.

Not easy, for sure. But the most valuable things in life are those that we have to fight the hardest to attain. And nothing is harder than achieving peace.

Even when there is peace, the fanatics on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, will continue to do what they have always done, undermined peace and blamed the other side.

The blame game has no victors, only generations of losers. Losers on both sides who continue to suffer.

Two states means Israel recognizes the rights of Palestinian refugees and apologizes to them for their role in creating their tragedy, and working with the United Nations, America and the Arab World to create a fund to help resettle them in a Palestinian State where they can live in dignity rather than in humiliation and squalor.

Two states means the Palestinians surrender what they have already lost in constant war and failed resistance and failed leadership, recognizing once and for all that Israel does exist. They must set aside the Palestinian Right of Return which is based on the Rule of Law, and instead apply the Rule of Reason.

Israelis must abandon the majority of the settlements and give Palestine land from Israel, one inch for each inch that they keep in settlements. They must freeze their settlement growth which has continued even during the peace process of the 1990s that Israelis wrongly blame on the late President Yasir Arafat.

Israel does nothing willingly. It’s time its people push their government to do the right thing, to recognize their own contributions to the continued conflict and stop blaming others, the Palestinians, for the failures.

Israel is as much at fault for the failure of peace as are the Palestinians.

Palestinians must reject the religious fanaticism of Hamas, a terrorist organization that is no different than the Israeli settler movement. They must stop cheering when Hamas or other terrorists attack Israel. And Israelis must stop justifying the unjustifiable. The murder of innocent men, women and children is a horrendous war crime that has occurred at the hands of both sides.

Two states can bring this to an end. We need a new attitude and a revival in hope. Hope for the future. Hope for peace. Hope for compromise. Hope that reason can prevail.

It’s not easy, but it can be done.

In the face of today’s conflict, I would rather support a reasoned dream than embrace an unreasoned status quo.

There are no innocent parties in this conflict. We can tell ourselves that there are but we will all be judged for the enabling of violence, the acts of violence and more importantly for refusing to support peace to save lives.

Palestine has no hope without compromise and Israel has no hope with a Palestine State.

It’s simple. Enough is enough. Yalla Peace! That’s the motto of my virtual campaign for office on the Internet for now and who knows, maybe a reality if enough people see the errors of their anger.

Support my campaign by visiting www.YallaPeace.com. It’s not about electing me to any office at all. It is about believing that the long shot can bring us great reward in the future and is far better to cheer than the tragedy that we call today.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com