My Hope for Peace is a new book by Egypt's former first lady, Jehan
Sadat. It is being published simultaneously in the United States and
the Middle East to mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of the
peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The peace Sadat's title refers
to is three-fold: the on-going struggle for peace in the Middle East,
the inherent peace in Islam, and the search for inner peace. Sadat
wants to encourage leaders and people in the Middle East to work harder
in order to live in peace.
View report and full interview with Sadat (in three parts)
When Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed a peace treaty in
1979, Jehan Sadat says hopes were high that other Arab countries would
follow suit and peace would finally find a home in the Middle East.
That did not happen.
"I feel very sorry, because we wasted 30
years, doing nothing except losing our sons from both sides," she told VOA's Faiza Elmasry.
"And what's the result at the end? Never, never [would] Israel destroy
the Arab world or the Palestinians, and never [would] the Palestinians
destroy Israel. Then why are they wasting their time? Let them sit and
reach a solution. I believe there is no other alternative except to
make peace with Israel and to live side by side amicably, securely and
Leaders must respond to demands for peace
make that vision a reality, though, Sadat says people and governments
in the Middle East must be willing to work together. She adds that
Egypt's experience, as well as recent opinion polls, show that the
people are ready to do that.
"People in the Middle East,
everywhere, even in Israel, they want peace," she says. "Nobody wants
war. Everyone wants to live in peace and security. But the problem is
with the leaders, not with the people."
The leaders, she says, must take serious steps and give peace a chance.
leaders should do is] to do like Sadat, to put their people above
themselves. This is number one," she says. "Second, [they have] to be
sincere in making peace, because it is their duty towards their people
to bring them peace. And they have to do it. It is a must, really,
because it is a tragedy when we see innocent people are killed because
their leader doesn't want to sit and negotiate."
President Obama should make peace priority
international community, Sadat explains, must also play a role,
facilitating peace efforts and helping the parties find a middle
ground. That's what President Jimmy Carter did when the Egyptian and
Israeli leaders were sincerely committed to peace 30 years ago. Sadat
says she sees a similar set of circumstances today, as President Barack
Obama seems to be serious about making the Middle East a peaceful
"I'm proud of President Obama, really, because he wanted
to change," she says. "He is sincere to help bringing peace to the
Middle East. You can see from his speeches, from his talks, even from
going to the Middle East. He was not just talking. He sent an envoy to
the Middle East, and he is coming also to the Middle East to give a
speech to the Muslim countries all over the world.
"He is ready.
President Obama is ready to make peace, even with Iran. He said, 'I
don't mind negotiating with them.' But it's the other side who should
be ready for what Obama wants to do. They have to stand and help him
Explaining Islam to the West
between the United States and Muslims around the world, Sadat says, is
key to making the world a more peaceful place. As a moderate Muslim,
she says the West needs to better understand Islam. That's what she
tries to explain in her book as she talks about peace as a central
value of her faith.
"Islam doesn't tell you to kill. In Islam,
killing an innocent person is anthema [abomination]," she says. "Our
Quran plainly states that killing an innocent person is tantamount to
killing the whole world, all mankind, which is very terrible. Muslims
must come out and explain our religion, explain our way of life. We are
not that people who want to kill or [take] revenge or want to do things
Finding her own peace
In her book, Sadat also
talks about inner peace. She explains how she found that peace after
her husband was assassinated by Islamic radicals opposed to his treaty
"My family has part in this, and much more is my
faith. And I, instead of staying at home, doing nothing, I went out,"
she says. "I was teaching in Cairo University at that time. I came
here, to the United States. I taught in four universities. Now I'm
settled with the University of Maryland. There is a chair [faculty
position] named after my husband for development and peace, to keep his
legacy alive. I want people not to forget the man who paid his life to
bring peace in his country and in the Middle East."
university, Jehan Sadat helped bring together a class of Palestinian
and Israeli students to learn from each other. She says working with
young people makes her even more convinced that peace in the Middle
East is possible. That's the message, she says, behind her Hope for