Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It doesn't work

Since 1947 Israel has been killing Arabs as a means of making their people safe. Radical Palestinian groups are still throwing missiles at them.

Since 1947, radical Palestinian groups have been attacking Israel to obtain freedom and redress for the Palestinian people. They are still living behind barbed wire and walls and still do not have a land to call their own with a functional government.

The strategy doesn't work. Neither one. For 60 years both sides have been pursuing strategies that do not bring peace, do not bring prosperity, do not solve the problem.

So what strategies would work? The crazies on either side actually have strategies that would work. There are crazy Zionists who argue that killing all of the Palestinians would solve the problem. And there are lots of crazy Arabs who argue that killing all of the Jews and wiping Israel from the map would solve things. They're both right. Completely annihilating one side or the other would stop the violence. The problem of course is that either "solution" is completely immoral and absolutely unacceptable.

Are there other solutions? I believe so, but nobody seems to have the political will or the courage to make it happen. Perhaps it is as simple as convincing the mothers of Israel and Palestine that they must love their own children more than they hate the other side's. And they must be convinced that keeping their children alive depends upon peace, not more bombs or missiles or bullets.

First and foremost, the Palestinians must have hope for the future. They must see that they will have a place of their own, education, jobs, and self-determination. Only Israel can give that to them. Until they do, the violence will not end and Israel's children will continue to die. And the Israelis must feel secure. They must be able to trust that their very existence is not threatened. They must know that their children will not need to take up arms just to survive. Only the Palestinians can give that.

Both sides must abandon their primary orientation to the other. The Palestinians must stop hating. Yes, Israel has done terrible wrongs to them. The entire world has done terrible wrongs to them going back to the Balfour Declaration. They must stop hating. Hate is not a healthy or a constructive lens through which to see the world and it has not served them as a people. And Israel must give up its fear. Yes, the fear has real reasons behind it. Nobody can read history and not understand the fear of the Israelis. Indeed, it was a healthy orientation that probably enabled the survival of the Jewish people, but it has become dysfunctional. It impedes them from moving forward and building a secure world.

Peace is possible but both will require leaders of vision and strength and both will require the support of the US and the rest of the international community.


Toni Ertl said...

There is a slightly wider picture too.

Both sides are being armed and funded, at least to an extent, by different factions in the outside world. If all funding and weapons were cut off then I think the picture would be radically different, with the 2 nations forced to work together.

But who in America would not want to support this nations struggle. And who in the Arab states would not want to support that nations struggle etc. Although the fight is between Israel and the Palestinians, it is as though they are representing the RoW.

fernando said...

I agree the situation is totally broken and support either side in the current situation is immoral.

But, the problem is not just that both sides are not reconciled to each other's reality - they are also not reconciled to their own reality and more specifically to their own foundational myths. Until both sides re-read their own history, the cost of their foundation and what their actions have done to the other there is no hope of reconciliation.