Speaking to the American Jewish Committee on June 3, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a powerful speech in favor of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He told personal stories, made concrete suggestions about moving the peace process forward, and called American Jews to action, saying that our leaders need to hear our voices. Kerry’s 36-minute speech is worth a listen or a read, especially at this critical, make-or-break time.

Below, some of the poetic phrases from Secretary Kerry’s speech have been scrambled into a poem, preserving the spirit of his words although not the exact sequence. It serves as a reminder of the urgent needs of Israelis and Palestinians and the responsibility that each of us has to help bring peace to this world.


It Can Be a Time of Peace


What had happened had happened the way it was described.

Israel made the desert bloom,

the possibility of another intifada always looming around the corner,

in a homeland of their own,

too much turmoil,

too daunting a time.

The kids I saw playing in the rubble there…

We must recognize the Palestinians’ fundamental aspirations.

Think of what they have done to try to build institutions,

a democracy.

It is a responsibility

to change the narrative.

More than simply the absence of war,

peace pays.

Wouldn’t we both be stronger if we had some more company?

Quiet walks through the sacred spaces of Jerusalem.

Committed to nonviolence,

Summoning the courage to achieve peace,

I don’t think we can live for regrets now.

Everyone has a role to play.

You are part of the great constituency for peace.

If that experiment is allowed to fail, what will replace it?

Leaders will take bold steps only if their people push them to.

We will always stand up for Israel’s security.

Am Yisrael Chai–

the voices of those who had fought coming back to us–

You’re not going to be alone.

What happens if this succeeds?

How else could you make fertile land out of the desert?

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