My people are dying by the thousands over land and oil.

In an age of shared resources and global interconnectedness, we must find ways for mutual benefit. Collaboration can enrich both cultures and lead to a more peaceful future. Military intervention in the middle east has proven disastrous, and the desire for peace is stronger than ever.

The United States and other western nations are losing the respect of the middle east. This impacts business, cultural exchange, and economic decisions of these oil-rich countries.

The middle east is not just Palestine, it’s all of the Arab countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. They see the treatment of the Arabs in Palestine. Why would they partner with a country that supports the kind of atrocities that are happening in Gaza?

This isn’t new.

This is what happened in Iraq in 2001, when we had to uproot our lives and escape a country in turmoil caused by the Western interference. I lost four uncles, innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of a war that was not theirs. I was too young and ignorant to speak then, but I have a responsibility to speak up now.

I grew up as an Iraqi refugee in America, nurtured by two cultures—my native Middle Eastern roots and the Western values of my adopted homeland. This duality grants me insight into bridging the rift between the West and the Arab world.

The current flare up of violence is heartbreaking. As of December 9th, over 17,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis have died. Aid agencies warn of an impending humanitarian catastrophe.

I cannot claim to fully understand the pain and loss endured on both sides over generations of conflict. Yet I believe most people fundamentally want the same basic needs – safety, dignity, community.

Externalizing the “enemy” as less than human makes violence more palatable, but this obscures our shared humanity.

Real change starts with seeing others as complex beings shaped by circumstance, not inherent evil. It continues by humanizing those different from us – listening to understand varied perspectives, building relationships not bounded by group identities.

Peace will come through reciprocal gestures of good faith, not force. By refusing to justify cruelty as self defense, by reaching out a hand in trust, by believing in the potential for growth. It will not be quick or easy after so much hurt – yet even small acts of courageous compassion can spur the first shoots of coexistence.

I urge all who feel powerless yet long for justice: be the voice of empathy when others spread fear. Foster connections where there were divides. Do not wait for leaders to act – be the leader, one interaction at a time. The alternative of apathy and hatred will only continue the cycles of violence. There is too much suffering at stake already.