Just a few days ago, millions of us stood for hours in the cold on the National Mall and watched President Obama speak about a new world paradigm – one which was post-partisan and morally responsible. As a 20-year-old Georgetown student, I am eager to accept my new president’s call for service and moral responsibility. Obama has given our generation a unique opportunity to come of age while playing an active role in shaping a more just and humanitarian globe.

With regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the time has come for the next generation of grassroots volunteers, humanitarian aid workers and diplomats to take a deep and critical look at the conflict and failed efforts to resolve it. The misguided priorities and diplomatic patterns which have perpetuated the tragic conflict must be reassessed. The war in Gaza is just the most recent example in a long line of violence that demonstrates why such re-examination is necessary. It is crucial to understand the skewed priorities and chronic failures that have precipitated the tragedies of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to fulfill the vision of the new commander in chief.

Failures and blame exist in immeasurable proportion on all sides of the conflict, but the real problem is the failure to engage in tangible and proactive idealism. It is our generation’s task to put the old ways behind us and accept the burden of peacemaking.

The days of protesting campus-wide, building mock separation walls and publicizing the number of Hamas rockets in college quadrangles must end. Such demonstrations are not viable vehicles for the promotion of peace – they are more fuel for the fire. These efforts must give way to fundraisers, volunteering efforts, humanitarian trips, peace lobbying and petitions for increased aid and moral guidance in foreign policy. The era of negativism, exemplified by propaganda campaigns led by radicalized professors, is failing.

This is not to say that the former tactics were necessarily wrong or unjust in their own right; rather, to quote our new president, “the ground has shifted underneath us” and the way forward is one of long-term rather than short-term perspectives.

To bring about a new era of conflict resolution rather than conflict escalation, this generation of problem solvers must internalize the symbiotic nature of Arab-Israeli peacemaking. A positive future for the Israelis and the Palestinians must be a mutual reality. Each action taken in the pursuit of conflict resolution must be taken with the goals of peace, security and human rights in mind.

Rather than staging protests in reaction to each new episode of violence, college students must challenge one another to continuously promote peace. In changing the tone of campus activism from negative to positive, we will increase the likelihood of evincing change. Increasing awareness is a tired method of trying to argue for the rights of Palestinians and Israelis and one that has yielded few tangible results to date. Additionally, our collective memory of this method’s failure teaches us that it breeds more anger and ill-will than reconciliation.

Promoting hope, interest and effort toward positive engagement and improvement of the lives of those in refugee camps must become the new model for our generation’s “pro-Israel” and “pro-Palestine” groups. New student organizations, supporting social justice in both Israel and Palestine are an avenue for those who wish to see reconciliation on both sides. Hopefully, President Obama’s inauguration will mark the beginning of an era of hope and tolerance. The ideals and actions of future world leaders produced by our generation regarding the seemingly unending Arab-Israeli conflict must shift accordingly.

Dani Isaacsohn is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Georgetown-Israel Alliance.

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