Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Love Thy Neighbor – A Prescription for Peace

Maale Adumim
First let me make clear my long standing commitment to the 2 state solution as the best possible hope for the future of our people in Israel. It may surprise people that I still feel this way, but I do since it is ultimately the only fair way to resolve the conflict and keep Israel both Jewish and democratic. 

What about my feelings that it would be suicidal to do that now? I still feel that way, too. Very strongly. But that does not mean I have given up on the ideal. But in my considered opinion this cannot happen in the near future. Probably not even during my life time. It make take a couple of generations to get there. But I do believe it is possible technically if good people are committed to it.

There must be a complete reversal of attitude towards the Jewish people by Palestinians, Arab governments and their affiliates. Their media; their schools; their mosques and madrases; their universities, high schools, elementary schools; and their entertainment industry. They hate us. And by us I mean the Jewish people. 

That they attempt to separate their hatred of us by saying it is only Zionism is disproved by the occasional slip of the tongue when during one of their tirades against Israel they will refer to us as 'the Jews'. When they are challenged about that  they say they meant Zionists. They might even point to some Jews that they actual love: those that parrot the Palestinian narrative with respect to the Palestinian Israeli conflict. But the constant reinforcement of Jew hatred that one finds among Arabs in that region belies any claim to distinguish Zionists from Jews. One might recall the very popular mini series in Egypt a while ago that was based on Henry Ford's antisemitic 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'.

Their hatred is perpetuated this way and that makes it easier for Islamists to consider it a holy task to kill Jews (and even Muslims) toward there goal of freeing Palestine from the infidel Jews.  That is the attitude of the Islamists that control Gaza. If a Palesitinian state allowed to happen in the West Bank - it would be a prescription for the biggest Jewish blood bath since the Holocaust. Not in scale, but in the sense of the desire to make their land (i.e. all of Israel) Judenrein - and act on it with terrorism. Israel would fight back. But a Lot of Jews would die. We cannot let that happen. For now the West Bank must remain in Israeli hands.

And yet a one state solution will leave Israel with a choice. It can't be both a democratic state and Jewish. Even if we were to give Palestinians complete freedom under Israeli rule, we could not give them the vote. Because they will eventually outnumber us via their higher birthrate. And they would end up voting themselves into power. They could end the Jewish State of Israel by the ballot box without firing a shot.
What’s the solution? It is not stopping the settlement construction. At least not all of it. It’s about ending the hatred. And that cannot happen in a generation that was raised in hatred. If handled properly through education - the dynamic of violent acts against Jews in response to the slightest provocation would end. Here is how. 

First there has to be good will shown on both sides. For Israel it would be to completely stop settlement activity deep into the West Bank that would end up being a Palestinian State. At the same time, Arabs should  understand that existing border type towns like Maale Adumim that will be part of Israel (as agreed to in Oslo) deserves to have the right to build in order to accommodate natural growth. A family living in Israel that ougrows a 2 bedroom house should have the right to add another bedroom. Any fair minded individual on the Arab side should have that kind of  reasonable approach. 

The Palestinians and all Arab states must outlaw expressions of hatred in their society. Hate speech ought to be eradicated and replaced with tolerance – even as they might feel their perspective on the conflict is just  Instead of teaching hatred and making antisemitic TV shows they have to start teaching their people to ‘love thy neighbor’. This Judeo-Christian principle is a universal value. I'm sure it is found in Islam too.

Tolerance should become a required course of study and expressed constantly in all fora. It needs to permeate every aspect of their relationship with the Jewish people. Clerics preaching hate should be removed from their pulpit.

What about generations ofs grievance Palestinians have against Israel? Justified or not, it exists

Nelson Mendela was able to put the past behind him rather quickly and said that if the new era ending Apartheid was to be a success, all past grievances must be forgotten. I think those words of wisdom must apply here.

I would insure that this process be meticulously followed by including monitors at all levels to see that there is no cheating. The monitors would be in groups of three consisting of a Palestinian, an Israeli, and an American (or other neutral party with no past expressions of bias.) Once the hatred is replaced with mutual understanding and respect, we can proceed to 2 states. 

Right now, I see no possibility of that. The terrorists among them have made life hard via Israel’s need for harsh security measures. That makes it hard thing to overcome. Espicially when there is so much hatred expressed  institutional on a daily basis. Once that changes - peace can actually be at hand.

What about the Israeli religious Zionist right wing that sees giving up even an inch of the holy land violates their religious principals? They too must be put on notice to stop acting on those beliefs and to stop the hate speech one often hears there about Arabs. We have to do our part. I would tear down all trailer park settlements deep in the West Bank that were constructed strictly for purposes of settling the land of Israel. 

I would tell the messianists among Religious Zionists that their religious fervor harms the Jewish people. I would use the carrot stick approach to  dismantling those trailer park settlements by offering them incentive to leave – like paying for re-settlement expenses into Israel proper and providing them same kind of trailers they live in now (or their value in Shekels). Resistance would be met by enforcement of the law forbidding settlement construction deep in the West Bank. Israel has to show its good will and not be deterred by the fanatics of the right.

This may sound far-fetched. But it is the only way I see a 2 state solution any where in the future, that will allow Israel to be both a democracy and a Jewish State. On the other hand as long as there is a possibility of a Palestinian state turning into Gaza, there can be no peace and no 2 states. If and when they stop hating us, Israel and Palestine can exist the same way the US and Canada does.

It is my hope that the current administration would pursue this policy. Unlike the last administration (and to one extent or another past administrations) that blindly followed the Palestinian narrative opposing all settlement construction as the primary obstacle to peace, the Trump administration would do well to begin a new narrative where hatred is seen as the real impediment. While many pro Israel advisers in the new administration support settlement construction, I would hope they see the future the way I do… and in that cause to NOT support trailer park settlements deep into the West Bank.  

Unfortunately Israel  has a fifth column in the guise of a objective news reporting. Ha’aretz never misses an opportunity to cast blame on the right.  Many of their editorials could have been written by Palestinians. Anyone with an ounce of objectivity can see just how biased this newspaper is and the extent it will go to in smearing their political opponents.

Their recent headline is a example of that bias. It made Israel sound like it has approved all settlement activity for the purpose of driving Palestinians out of the West Bank. But it is only when you get into the article that will you find that Israel is only permitting border cities to do it. Not trailer park settlements. I'm sure that Netanyahu's ruling coalition has done this as a direct result of the US election.

Palestinians may be incited by their leadership into yet another violent and deadly Intifada for something like this. Even though they have already conceded these border cities at Oslo. That Palestinian leaders are encouraging it against Israel even if a foreign country moves its embassy to Jerusalem tells you that it isn't about settlements. 

If that happens - and it very well may – it will once again show that hatred is the issue not settlements. If Israel and America sign on to a plan like the one I suggested, I don’t see how any sane person could object. Because Palestinians will finally have their own state; and Israel will have everything: A Jewish State; a democracy; and a friendly neighbor.