True Peace in the Middle East, by Manal Harrouche from Algeria

tumblr_inline_njtclixfeg1sag8l3A fool is one who thinks that peacemaking in the MENA region is only about Israel and Palestine. If that were true, it would have been way easier for change-makers to have a real impact. Human rights violations, abuse of women, destruction of natural resources, extermination of the history of an entire part of the North African region, killing of people in the name of religion, wrong interpretations of holy books including the Qur’an… have you got enough or do you still need more to be convinced that this is not only about that tiny piece of land in the tremendously large region called the MENA? It hurts to the bones to see people standing by a certain side without thinking why they do so. It hurts to the bones when Egyptian women can’t safely live their lives in their own streets while their people worry more about a war outside their borders. It hurts to the bones when Maghrebians (Libyan, Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan) are taught a wrong history about themselves and are satisfied with it because they have been indoctrinated. People keep spreading this wrong equation:  Islam equals Arabization, and they use it as an excuse to kill and forget that democracy is not a new thing in Northern Africa. Planet Earth! I’m so sorry dear Earth because MENA residents forgot that you deserve to be protected and treated respectfully. Khaliji Amir (Gulf Princes) come to the Algerian Sahara to savagely hunt our Fennec foxes and we Algerian people consider it an investment, ignoring how badly it harms our environment and thus our lives. The situation between Algeria and Morocco reminds me exactly of that course I took about the Cold War. Two countries opposing each other pretending to defend Peace. They are in fact fighting for a piece of land while nourishing hatred in both countries. The frontier between these countries tells a tragic story, a story of two brothers fighting for nothing. I won’t take sides and stand for either brother. I won’t stand for my first country nor for my second; they are both wrong. I can’t ignore the fact that there are human rights violations in Western Saharan lands but Algeria could have reacted in many different ways. I’ve already said that I’m an optimist, but I am realist as well. I learned that, before starting any business venture, I should first do my SWOT analysis not to engage in a lousy business and invest too much time and energy in a project that will fail. I learned to be critical and to analyze in order to make sure that I am looking at things from a pragmatic point of view. The MENA region is not only about Palestine and Israel, it is not only about armed conflicts between countries and people; sadly it is also about violating women, oppressing nations, and harming nature, and if we want progress and development to happen in this strategic zone of the world, we should work on all those issues and start with what is happening in our local communities. At this point I should clarify one thing, I’m not attacking any country, I’m not showing disrespect towards anyone, I’m just trying to bring to the light topics and events that we keep ignoring. I’m trying to widen and broaden the concept of PEACE making so improvement and change-making will become clearer in our minds: open your eyes wide and see larger. Greeting, Manal, YaLa Young Leaders

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