12 November 2003

And the winner of the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize is...

It took courage to oppose the war in Iraq when not a single Israeli politician came out against. It took courage a few days after the 1967 war to say Israel must immediately withdraw from the territories, and to be one of the first to condemn the Lebanon war. One has to admire his unrepentant bluntness.

For him the conflict is between right and right, as each side has its grievances, its folly and its justice: 'This is not a Hollywood movie with good guys and bad guys. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a black-and-white film.'

He demands Palestinians disarm the terrorist organisations, while at the same time insisting Israelis remove the unauthorised settlements. Reflect on his rare non-partisan views. Listen to his balanced voice of moderation.

A tower of peace, Oz pleads with us to stop wagging our fingers at Islam or the Jews or the West and seek out the moderates in every society. Only those who possess moderation and determination, Oz observes, deserve to inherit the earth. And it is only once we accept that the tiny land is the homeland of two wounded people, Oz has said, that we will be able to begin the long road towards healing.

Audaciously he challenges governments and leaders, raising ethical issues without mercy. A true man of peace amid the disharmony of Middle East radicalism.

The weird thing about the Geneva Accord is how obvious its provisions feel when you read them. Now the hardliners on both sides condemn Geneva as hopelessly idealistic. That may be true, but the hardliners have yet to produce anything that ends the bloodshed.

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