To Charlotte resident Sam Wazan, Americans are asking the wrong questions about peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Wazan said he believes the solutions for peace in the Middle East conflicts today don't start with the leaders of Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. He said they start with the way children are taught and raised in that region - both Muslim and Jew.
As a Muslim youth amidst the chaos of the 15-year Lebanese Civil War, Wazan has seen a need to work towards peace in that region. That spurred him to resign his corporate position in 2009 and write a novel inspired by his experiences in that conflict called The Last Moderate Muslim. Now a grassroots interfaith peace activist, Wazan is a Global Trustee on the United Religions Initiative Global Council, Board Member at Mecklenburg Ministries, Programming Chair of the Charlotte Cooperation Circle, and member of the Comparative Religions Committee at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC.
He will speak about the current Gaza conflicts in context with his own experiences at a book signing and discussion "The Journey to Civility in the Middle East" at 4 p.m. Dec. 8 at Pomegranate Books, 4418 Park Ave.
"When we hear leaders like Netanyahu or Hamas or the Palestinian Authority speak, they are all ensnared in the same cycles of provocations and retributions," he said. "They forget there are children getting killed. I am not too optimistic about peace happening there in my lifetime. But the solution is a process."
Wazan said as a child he was raised in a patriarchal family where total submission to the father was demanded. Questioning that was not allowed.
"So children grow up unable to express the full range of their emotions. They're at the bottom of the social ladder, and without the ability to express themselves, they don't understand how to compromise," he added. But after coming to America, Wazan realized, "when you appreciate and respect another person for their value instead of their beliefs or where they're from, you seek to find ways to make connections for a better world."