Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Open forum: Story needs telling

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The plight of Sderot's youth, in the face of mortar and missile attacks from Palestinians in Gaza, is a story that must be told, and it is commendable that these youth are able to do so in Gaithersburg and in communities around the country ("Israeli youth get summer respite from life under siege," July 30 article).

Regrettably, conditions are bad on both sides of the Israeli-Gaza border. What is missing, in order to accomplish desperately needed reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, is the ability of Gaza's Palestinians to also tell their stories, to American and Israeli audiences alike, in order to bring out the full human stories behind the following statistics:

Gaza has one of the youngest and poorest populations in the world, with a median age of only 16.2 years, compared to Israel's 28.9. According to the United Nations, Ha'aretz reported on July 28, the Gaza unemployment rate is 45 percent, highest in the world, and 95 percent of Gaza's factories have closed in recent years. According to the CIA, the per person annual GDP of Gaza is $1,100, one of the world's poorest.

So conditions facing Gaza's youth are challenging, as well. Our young people are best served by those organizations that will actively promote reconciliation.

Brien Kinkel, Silver Spring