Hani Daou, 16, Beirut, Lebanon

December 21, 2010

Note: The following was submitted for consideration by the United Nations Security Council for “Voices of a New Generation,” an interactive event held on Dec. 21, 2010. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or the United Nations.

I’ve always asked myself, how does a war last so long? If a dispute was to originate in one generation between two nations, how is it that the same dispute ignites a war nearly 50 years later? Is the common feeling of prejudice, intolerance and hatred something innately present in all following generations, or is it something inherited by our forefathers as if an essential ‘law’?

The most vital challenge to international peace and security facing my generation is the inheritance of a hateful outlook towards another culture or population from our previous generation. All children are born with a blank slate that is shaped by the child’s experiences.

Today, for example, Palestinians and Israelis passionately continue to exchange disputes and address problems concerning which population truly deserves to own the land from which they both originate. I doubt any of the protesters or soldiers exchanging stones and bullets today lived when the issue originated, yet their passion of prejudice and intolerance towards the other side burns as if it was a recent matter.

Addressing a group of Lebanese teenagers, the legendary reporter Claude Salhani stated his belief that the Arab-Israeli disputes will only end when the adult generations’ hatred towards their enemies will be surpassed by their love for their children. Old and young alike, it is time for us to broaden our prospects and realize that teaching tolerance and love towards the ‘enemy’ is the only way to truly ensure a better life for our children.

Note: You may view Hani's video here.

- Hani Daou, 16, Beirut, Lebanon