A standing-room only crowd packed Sharpless Auditorium to hear Miko Peled speak about his path to becoming a peace activist. Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, about which Alice Walker (who wrote the forward) said: “Few books on this issue seem as hopeful to me as this one.”
In his November 15 presentation, which was sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Peled offered a history of Zionism and its objectives intertwined with his own remarkable story. Born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well-known Zionist family, his maternal grandfather signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father, Matti Peled, fought in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, and was a general in 1967 during the Six Day War. Later, General Peled became a peace activist, a leading proponent of an Israeli dialogue with the PLO.
Miko Peled himself volunteered for a Special Forces commando unit in the Israeli Defense Forces, and later came to regret his service. But it was the death of his 13-year-old niece in a suicide attack in Jerusalem in 1997 and his sister’s response to the tragedy that drove him to a life of exploration and activism. “When we take away people’s dignity, and their homes and land,” his sister told reporters. “When we deny them water, incarcerate their fathers and brothers, kill their young children and give them no hope, this is what happens.”
Today, Peled, a sixth-degree black belt in karate who teaches martial arts in California, believes that there is only one answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “A secular democracy in our shared homeland, equal rights for all Palestinians and Israelis [and] a constitution drafted by both sides.”