We all heard and felt the inspiring passion from tonight’s speakers. But I am sure that many of you are thinking –“Now what?” How do we turn passion into action?

The Israeli and the Palestinian societies face the same obstacle – apathy. The silence of the sometimes sets the policy more than the extremists on both sides.

From Ramallah to Tel Aviv – People don’t act; they are led by governments with an agenda to preserve the status quo. Even before I got here, I was concerned with the question of urgency. I know I care, I know we don’t have a minute to waste, but I also know I don’t represent the majority of my society. How do we convert the sense of urgency, the energy of this team – To a movement? How do we make people, who have gotten so used to opening the news and hearing about war, terror attacks, missiles in the south, air strikes in Gaza – how do we make them understand that too much blood has been Spilled? That we have to end this today?

The Israeli crowd, thousands are already demonstrating in the streets for Social Justice. A political change is happening. But how do we spread the message that social justice and peace are interlinked?

I think we should make it personal. I think every citizen should feel that maintaining the status quo is a decision that comes at the expense of his or her future, and their children’s future. All of us understand practical issues – and money is very practical. When I go the grocery store to buy bread, I pay 16% tax. Most of my tax money, unfortunately, does not support better education, does not repair infrastructure – it pays for the defense budget.

I want every Israeli citizen to understand that he is involved – whether he is aware of it or not. Our future is at stake. It is our money that funds the future – the war or the peace.

That is my challenge. And I know my Palestinian friends have equally complicated challenges to face when they go home.

Because we all just want to live. Go home and not go through a security check. Ride the bus and not worry about a suicide bomber. Be free to travel wherever and whenever we want. We want the negotiation table to be a true hope for peace, and not a place of snapshots and empty words. We want to live on that beautiful piece of land that we all call home. Finally we found something we can agree on.

We cannot wait. As Martin Luther King said almost 50 years ago, and just a few miles from here: “There is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism”.

The torch has been passed to a new generation-our generation, and you have heard the voices of some of that new generation tonight.

I wonder what you think? Can I tell you what I think? I think that the people on this stage, the people in this room, the younger generations in Israel and Palestine are more than capable to make a change. So – Let us. NOW!

By Noa Shapira

New Story Leadership 276 Carroll Street NW Washington, DC 20012 Phone: 240-476-1123