Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize--A Medal of Courage

A medical doctor from Gaza who works and was trained in Israel and who lost three daughters in Operation Cast Lead has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Amongst the statements made by this doctor that are not what one may expect to hear from the father of children killed in war, especially such a protracted conflict as the Palestinian-Israeli one is:
"I have two options - the path of darkness or the path of light. The path of darkness is like choosing all the complications with diseases and depression, but the path of light is to focus on the future and my children. This strengthened my conviction to continue on the same path and not to give up."
That this doctor has chosen not to regress into hatred and vengeance and that he chooses to strive for reconciliation and peace despite what he has endured is truly laudable. It should be hoped that others in his situation, where the departed loved ones be combatants or civilians, would behave the same way.

Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish has been nominated for the prize and he likely faces tough competition before winning it (though lists of nominees are kept secret for 50 years, so it's difficult to know who he's up against.) Dr. Abu al-Aish, however, is not the first person to react the way he did to losing close family in war. Notable other examples include this NGO which seeks to bring together the bereaved relatives of those who have been killed on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Another, perhaps better known, example is Mariane Pearle the widow of the journalist Daniel Pearle kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002 who in an interview after her husband's death said:
"...ultimately - what happens is violence brings more violence. And these people who have killed Danny you know they breed out of this violence - they use ignorance. We have to fight this ignorance."
The criterion to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize is very general, the prize goes to the person a committee of five Norwegian members decides: "...have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses..." It's not exactly clear that Dr. Abu al-Aish meets this criteria, the same could be said of M. Pearle or the NGO linked to above. Perhaps all such people--bereaved families of victims of war who (and this is critical) choose to strive for peace and reconciliation--from conflict zones around the world could jointly accept the prize. Or, if it's more practical, perhaps Dr. Abu al-Aish could accept the prize as a representative of such people. Dr. Abu al-Aish's attitude is exemplary and reflects great strength. Unfortunately, he is not the only one to have such an experience and others who have shown courage similar to his merit recognition as well.

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