When asked if he foresees a solution in Israel and Palestine, during the question-and-answer segment of his speech, the civil rights leader said the key to peace is having equal economic opportunities.
“I have always seen peace,” he said. “You can’t give in to violence.”
Young said his opinion on resolving the conflict hasn’t always been popular, but he explained that “peace means something different” for the Israelis than it does for the Palestinians.
“I used to say to my Arab friends, if you want peace, don’t pick on Israel, help the Palestinians,” he said, adding they should help the Palestinians have fresh water, food and good housing.
“Basically, that’s all people want,” he continued. “That’s true in this country too — we get along when we’re all pretty much working together and when we have equal opportunities.”
The former congressman said the success of these ideas can be seen in the South.
“The thing we’ve demonstrated in the South, particularly here in Atlanta, is that the more education, opportunity and wealth that the poor have, the more the rich have,” he said. “The only thing that stops us from growing is … insecurity about losing what we have. That’s what’s the matter with the world now.”
One reason for the deficit in the United States, Young said, is “people are afraid of investing their money. They’re afraid of the state of the world.”
Young also spoke on the topic of peace when addressing the upcoming Christmas holiday. A pastor, Young said the birth of Jesus Christ plays a large role in bringing the people of the world together.
“No matter what the troubles are in the world, we have been able, because of the presence of the spirit of this child born in a manger … to find hope. And we find peace one little bit at a time,” he said. “Peace is a process.”
Young, who founded Andrew Young Foundation and GoodWorks International, also spoke about his work with President Jimmy Carter and recounted his experience with Rotary International helping to convince the leaders in Northern Nigeria that the polio vaccine being administered was safe.
Young ended his speech by thanking Roswell Rotary members for their work in the community and all over the world.