Badawe Khader and Mustafa Khader: How we can help resolve the tragic cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine

This is a leading civil rights issue of our time.

(Fatima Shbair | The Associated Press) A view of the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza after the territory's militant rulers carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel Saturday, killing over 900 people and taking captives. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the airstrikes.

As Palestinian-Americans who have lived in Utah for many years (Badawe 51 years, Mustafa 18 years), we’d like to invite fellow Utahns to consider actions that can help resolve the current tragic cycle of violence in Israel/Palestine.

First, we mourn the loss of life on both sides of the conflict, and we decry the violence on both sides. All life is precious. Both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to life and to be safe. In addition, we believe there is no military solution to this conflict.

Second, 75 years of mass displacement, oppression and inequality under the law have not brought us any closer to peace than we were in 1948. Two-thirds of the population of Gaza are refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It’s time to try a new approach.

Third, the international community and people of goodwill all over the world can and should call for an international peace conference and a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to address foundational grievances. Restorative justice principles should be implemented.

Fourth, civil society can and should seek out unbiased reporting on the conflict. That includes calling for an end to the constant dehumanizing of the Palestinian people in the media and by elected officials at the highest levels of U.S. government.

Fifth, our elected leaders need to hear from the grassroots that pouring gasoline on a fire does not put out a fire. U.S. blind support for Israel – which currently stands at $3.8 billion annually, plus any additional appropriations tacked on – is only feeding the military-industrial complex and does nothing to advance peace.

We believe peace work requires sitting down and talking with your adversaries. It requires airing the grievances on both sides and asking honestly what justice requires to bring closure to the suffering at hand. We note that the five “final status issues” that were left on the table when the long-abandoned peace talks were underway are: Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, the settlements, borders and security. We can add to that the siege of Gaza. Civil society institutions can educate themselves on these issues and put forward suggestions for resolution.

[Read more: Utahns share their perspectives on what’s happening in Israel and Palestine]

Without addressing the core of the problem, violence will erupt again, even if Hamas is completely eradicated. Hamas is a byproduct of the underlying conflict. The silent majority needs to speak up to ensure that the above issues are addressed comprehensively to prevent the ongoing cycle of violence.

This is a leading civil rights issue of our time. Americans believe in the principle of equality under the law, yet this principle has never been applied towards Palestinians in the 75 years since the state of Israel was created in 1948. Isn’t it time people stood up for human rights for all?

Badawe Khader

Mustafa Khader

Badawe Khader (retired) and Mustafa Khader (an independent businessman) were both born in the Old City of Jerusalem. They both volunteer with Utahns for a Just Peace in Holy Land, which is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been in existence for 20 years and seeks to foster education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and possible resolution of it.