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It’s time for women to lead the world to peace

Kamala Harris American Flag
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Men have led us to war, death, and destruction. It's time for a new way.

If you have gotten this far, you now realize that the headline and the author line may appear incongruous. Some may think that calling for women to lead in peace coming from a man is already suspect. And I can understand it, given the level of patriarchy and continued misogyny and inequality in almost every aspect of our global society. Rather, I hope you read this as the point of view of one man who is absolutely fed up with men being the primary perpetrators of war, death, and destruction as far back as history records. Also, there are several Israeli, Palestinian, and American women who have recently distinguished themselves for stronger statements than those of men on condemning the violence and in fact, developing some very promising solutions for lasting peace.

Let’s start with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December and taking the opportunity to make the most consequential statements, outstripping any American male politician, her boss included, about Israel taking measures to preserve innocent lives. While she continues the Biden administration’s firm statement that Israel has the right to defend itself, it was Vice President Harris who went further and requested that Israel do everything to preserve innocent lives, especially since two-thirds of those lost in Gaza in this recent military action are women and children. “As Israel defends itself, it matters how. The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected. Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” she said.

Then there is Sarah Hendricks, the United Nations Women deputy executive director, who highlighted that the Hamas terrorists who conducted the October 7 massacre committed much more gruesome crimes on women they killed, captured, and left for dead than men. Investigations are now revealing that rape of women and young girls was a weapon Hamas used in its attack in October as well as the broader conflict. Reports of women being gang-raped, beaten, and then killed are emanating from the U.N. and other credible sources. Hendricks has stood out above her colleagues in calling for the respectful treatment of women and the preservation of innocent lives.

There are Israeli and Palestinian women who lead organizations that have developed peaceful solutions deserving of notice. May Pundak is chief executive officer of A Land for All. May appeared on American TV news programs as an Israeli and Jewish activist calling for peace. A Land for All presents a vision for a “two state, one homeland” initiative to end conflict and bring lasting peace. Here is its vision: “We, a group of Israelis and Palestinians, offer a new horizon for reconciliation between the two people, based on the existence of two sovereign states in one open land. The Land of Israel/Palestine is a homeland shared by two people — the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, each having deep historic, religious and cultural connections to the land. All people living in this shared homeland have an equal right to live freely, equally and with dignity, and any agreement must guarantee these rights, in light of the fact that the two solutions currently on the table — separation into two states or the one-state solution — are nowhere close to realization and lead us to a dead end. We believe that a new vision is in order.”

Joining May in being another woman leader calling for a new path is Rana Salman, who cofounded Combatants for Peace, which was established nearly 20 years ago with people who served in both the Israeli Defense Forces and the Palestinian military. Combatants for Peace joins A Land for All and other organizations with an even more succinct objective and solution: “Combatants for Peace supports a two-state solution within the 1967 lines, or any other solution reached through mutual agreement which would allow Israelis and Palestinians to lead free, safe and democratic lives from a place of dignity in their homeland.”

In the span of a few days, we have seen women rising above the warmongering voices of men to offer a peaceful solution to end the oppression, suppression, and destruction of lives that come out of conflicts. And this is coming from women who are Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Perhaps the world needs to consider turning over the current Israeli-Hamas conflict to women in government like Vice President Harris, the U.N.’s Sarah Hendricks. and two women like May Pundak and Rana Salman, from opposite sides of one homeland, calling for a peaceful two-state solution. As one man tired for wars perpetuated only by men, I am ready for women to lead us to peace.

Michael D. Kelleyis a cofounder and a principal LGBTQ+ shareholder ofequalpride, publisher of The Advocate. His opinion pieces representhis own viewpoints and not necessarily those ofequalpride or its affiliates, partners, or management.

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