mepeace.org

This site has been a healing place for me - I've needed the community of others to discuss my fears, and hear the fears and frustrations of others.

On one of these threads I posted something that surprised me & I'd like to copy it here as the beginning of a discussion on how do we create Peace? Christine Quelch has such a beautiful profile - and I was struck by her thoughts on 'how to create Peace' where she said:
"Without peace, most people are unable to even start to live their lives, or worse still, their lives are destroyed, (not literally, just slowly through never being able to achieve anything meaningful)."

I felt the truth of that - and would like to start a thread focused not on any of the 'reasons' for any of our wars - but a reflection on creating Peace.
This is part of a comment posted on another thread:

'If we really want Peace, then we need to think not about the reasons for this war - but the ways in which we can create Peace. I don't believe Peace is simply removing all the weapons - it is a state of mind that allows us to feel compassion and understanding for that 'hated other'. If all weapons were to suddenly vanish from the earth - the fear anger & hatred would still be present, and this is what is preventing Peace.

Ultimately this question is not about who is "right". It is about whether human beings are capable of fully owning the consequences of their actions - atoning for all the harm we cause others - and then facing our fears & finding if we are capable of loving all the ugliness in ourselves that we project onto others. We need to look into the eyes of that other & find that we can forgive ourselves.

We need each other to find what love is.'

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I don't believe in a 2 state solution for this problem - a single state with legal equality for all the inhabitants is the best way to begin the 'Truth & Reconciliation' process that needs to happen for a true Peace. We cannot treat 'the other' equitably so long as we are allowed to put up walls and continue to reinforce our habitual ideologies that diminish their humanity.

Peace comes through the shared dialog that allows each side to recognize how their ideologies have failed to support shared human values. How can this dialog be realized with barriers between peoples who have so much to witness & atone for between each other?

A model for this type of community can be found in the Oasis of Peace: http://nswas.org/rubrique22.html
& in the U.S. the Koinonia Farm was a model for how to heal our racist ideologies.
Peace will come from tolerance and an acceptance of the other, but, most importantly, that this other has the right to choose their own destiny without impinging on yours. That is the stuff good neighbours are made of. Israel set out on its path 60 years ago, and is following its destiny, it is time for the Palestinians to do the same, to look at themselves and where they want to go, with no regard to Israel and her destiny. It is their path to choose, and the moment they cease focusing on Israel and begin focusing on Palestine, their world will change to one of peace. They may choose to be part of Jordan ... Jordan was carved out of Palestine, has a Palestinian majority, and the West Bankers were once happy Joradanian citizens, but It's their choice. Dismantling Israel, though, isn't anybody's choice except the Israelis, for they too must be accorded the same right to follow their own destiny.

All this presumes that you accept that the Palestinians are a national entity with their own culture, history etc, and therefore their own destiny.
I'm not sure what you are saying - I agree with the tolerance & acceptance & 'this other has the right to choose their own destiny without impinging on yours'.

Could you elaborate on this path that Israel set 60 years ago - & how that path relates to the people who were living in this region 60 years ago?

What do you mean by: 'it is time for the Palestinians to do the same, to look at themselves and where they want to go'? what about the people who are living in the place they want to be?

Is it not possible for Israelis to give the same legal rights to all people living in the territory they wish to occupy?
Jill, I'm not sure how much of the history of the area you're familiar with. Most of the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire which fell in WW1. The Ottomans released very little land to private ownership, so the problem for the League of Nations was disbursement of the land amongst the residents, and the creation of nations. To this purpose mandates were created. Iraq, Syria and Lebanon were formed relatively easlly. In 1924, the Palestine Mandate was split amongst the residents, with 80% becoming a mostly Palestinian entiity called TransJordan, the other 20% was to be the Jewish homeland, as outlined in the Balfour Declaration. Some Arabs were violently opposed to any Jewish presence, and a string of massacres against Jews ensued. The violence and counter violence became so intense that it was suggested in 1947 that this territory be further partitioned, leaving the proposed Jewish homeland at less than 15% of Palestine. The Arabs rejected this too, and the 1948 war in which 5 Arab armies attacked the newly declared State of Israel. Israel lost 1% of its population in that war, but survived. Israel's survival led to the creation of terrorist groups still adamantly devoted to Israel's destruction. Hamas is such a group.

As to you questions, for the people living in the region 60 years ago, there were many changes. Many Arabs stayed to become Arab citizens of Israel, others left. Some left behind property, and one of the first statutes of the new State of Israel was one for compensation to any Arab who demonstrably lost property. This accords with international law and represents the same conditions Jewish refugees from the Holocaust received. The Jewish refugees from Arab lands were never compensated, though they were expelled and forced to leave behind everything they had, amounting to multibillions (there were 800,000, most eventually absorbed by Israel).

Israelis have a a life in Israel, a language, a culture and undoudtedly a common vision. It is more different to that of The Palestinians than that of France is to England. Few would suggest they be melded. It is just as unrealistic to suggest that about Israel. The most natural amalgamation for the Palestinians is with Jordan, if they are to be amalgamated at all.

I hope that explained my thoughts better ... if a little longwinded .
Thank you Mick for your information.

I understand your comment about the differences between cultures - I would like to ask if you feel it was necessary that people who were living in this region were required to leave (you mention "Many Arabs stayed to become Arab citizens of Israel", so I'm guessing you would say 'no' - I only ask because of your comment above about the time for them to decide "where they want to go" & i wanted to better understand your thinking)

and also I'd like your thoughts on the other question above: "Is it not possible for Israelis to give the same legal rights to all people living in the territory they wish to occupy?"
To your first question, you're right, that's an emphatic "no", as evidenced by Israel's Declaration of Independence (after the preamble):

WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

WE EXTEND our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.


I'm not sure I entirely understand your second question. If I got it wrong, excuse me. Israel doesn't wish to occupy somebody else's territory ... it found itself occupying the West Bank, for example, as the result of Jordan attacking it in 1967. But land issues are very complex. About 1% of West Bank territory is titled to Jews/Israel and was purchased in the 1930s. The biggest is called the Etzion Bloc, and it contains the bulk of Jewsih settlement, one city a few towns .. a dozen settlements in all. Most of the Land of the West Bank (over 80%) was Ottoman public land prior to WW1, became British Mandate land during that period, and is best described as "disputed land" today.

Putting it as bluntly as possible, Israel wants to retain its Jewish identity, so incorporating these Arabs into Israel isn't an option (cultural ethnic problems aside, and they are substantial ... Israel is having some major adjustment problems with recent Russian immigrants on that score). Israel also must retain its democratic identity, so occupation as some misbegotten ideology isn't an option either. That's been the basis of the various offers made in peace talks with Arafat, that included 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza.

On legal issues, Israeli courts uphold Palestinian rights, and have dealt with multiple issues brought before it, often finding for the Palestinian plaintiffs against either the army or the government. Similarly, the courts uphold Israeli laws that provide compensation for any Palestinians who can demonstrate that they lost land to Israel.
Thank you for your response Mick - I was hoping to be able to discuss this more with you. I appreciate the copy from your Independence declaration - it is helpful.

I think i understand your second point about 'not wishing to occupy someone elses land'. this is a difficult point, and i appreciate your patience in talking with me about it.

i would like to ask a question about the following paragraph where you say 'incorporating Arabs into Israel isn't an option'. could you clarify that some, in terms of how that is a problem for the Israel state, and in particular - what does that mean for Arabs living within the Israeli boarders?

I appreciate hearing from you again.
Thanks for your reply Jill ... you have a lovely gentle way of expressing yourself that's like a breath of fresh air, there is too much of the strident around.

Let me try to explain myself better. It's about self-determination. I am Jewish, and I live in Australia, a predominantly Christian country ... and just so you don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, I love it. But it is culturally Christian ... you know, Christmas with decorations, shops closed, carols being played on the radio and in every supermarket, or Easter, when you wade knee deep in Easter eggs every time you visit the supermarket. The politicians inevitably talk of our "Christian values". Israel is Jewish in the same way that Australia is Christian, but it's Jewish festivals and decorations. Now if that was my top priority, what I yearned for in terms of language and culture, I would move to Israel. Every country in the world protects its unique identity be restricting immigration to a level by which that identity will not be lost.

20% of the Israeli population is Arab, and though they speak Arabic, they are bilingual. There are Arab members of Parliament, Arab judges, Arab police, Arab TV, Arabic movies made (with international acclaim, many very critical of Israel). But I don't think there is any real blending. Like minorities in Australia, the Arabs of Israel tend to live together, have their own towns, and tend to interact together. There is some intermarriage but a lot of separation ... perhaps there would be more interaction if there was peace. If Jews are looking for self-determination, as I said before, there is but one Israel. For Christians, you can move to a Christian society of Spanish speakers, English speakers, Roumanians Hungarians, Russians ... name your poison, the same is true of Moslems.

The total population of Israel is 7 million (1.5million Arab). The original few hundred thousand people who left Israel has now blossomed into over 6 million, all of whom have been brainwashed into hating Israel. The Palestinians have long argued that they have the same right to self-determination, and therefore to become a nation. Call me mistrustful, but I have always asked myself how you can advocate a Palestinian homeland whilst demanding that the same people needed to build that homeland be settled amongst "the enemy". If they once had property there, it is long gone. International law in these cases puts the decision with the government, and Israel is entitled to choose between return and compensation, and long ago chose compensation. It is to my mind a logical choice.

There is a far more sinister element. Over the years Israel has created an amazing democracy that allows the participation of very diverse people. It is a creative society that has made impressive contributions in technology (the cell phone, the intel chips, the various Windows programs, that little pill with a camera in it) medicine, a number of Nobel prizes for Chemistry, literature ... the list is too huge and surprising to go into here, I'm sure it can be Googled. Trying to integrate millions of Palestinians who share neither language, culture nor a love of democracy would not just destroy the Jewish nature of the only such nation in the world, but would also destroy its democracy and harmony, and Israel would quickly turn into another despotic Arab country of the Middle East. This isn't theoretical ... it's exactly what happened to Christian Lebanon, created as the Christian state opposite Syria after WW1, just as the Jewish homeland was carved out opposite its Palestinian counterpart, Jordan, at the same time by the same League of nations. The Christians are pretty much gone, and the proxies of Iran, Syria, and the Druse are battling over control. For anyone who knew Lebanon as "the Switzerland of the Middle East" where Europeans went to ski and be seen, it's heartbreaking.

The Arabs inside Israel's borders have always had the choices I have. If they want to live in an Arabic country they can immigrate to any number, whichever strikes their fancy. If they stay, it's as loyal citizens of their own country, which happens to be a Jewish one ... for the moment.

I know it was a little clumsy, but I hope you got the gist, Jill. English is such an incredibly rich language, but often you still can only get close to what you're trying to say.
"Israeli courts uphold Palestinian rights". This is rather sweeping statement and is demonstrably false. Israeli courts by and large serve Israeli interests not human rights or international law. Even when the Israeli supreme court makes a courageous decisions based on obvious Israeli interests, the government can and does chose to ignore what it wants. Take for example the obviosu case of Israeli citizens who were removed from their villages in Biram and Ikrit after the cease fire of 1949 and the court ruled they shoudl be allowed to return. That ruling of 1956 has yet to be implemented (the government argues it can set a precedent). More recently the court ruled to adjust the route of the wall in Bilin and nothing happened. The dilemma for Israel is it wants to be Jewish And Democratic. It simply can't be both. Courts try to give some window dressing to appear democratic while keeping sacred the notion of a Jewish state for Jewish people etc.
Thanks Mick for your response to Jill.

In terms of the 1924 split. Can I suggest that the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nation mandate for Palestine was in no way a fait accompli partition of the region into a Jewish and Arab State. You will be aware of the semantic distinction between 'homeland' and 'statehood'. You will also be aware that the premise of the declaration was so that it did not prejudice the non-Jewish inhabitants. Creating a Jewish state inherently be a source of tension and prejudice for the 87% of the population that was non-Jewish (in 1919). The British White Paper in 1939 is clear evidence for this. Can I also suggest that is unfair of you to suggest that the Palestinian people of the Mediterranean coastline and Galilee should be expected to move without their own opportunity for self-determination. We cannot expect citizens of Jaffa, Haifa, Akko or Nazareth to leave the home of their ancestors willingly because of atrocities perpetrated against Jewish people in Europe. Mick would you willingly leave your home for the Kulin Nation the indigenous community of your land?

Mick I agree that it is an outrage that Middle Eastern and North African governments failed to protect Arab Jewish citizens States should acknowledge this and individuals or families should be compensated for this. Just as Palestinians dispossessed of their homes should also be compensated.

Can I suggest the Arab nations rejection of partition plan was not unique and with good reason. The UN Security Council itself rejected the partition plan in March 1948. The subsequent special Assembly called in April-May 1948 became meaningless when the Jewish Agency despite the UN Security Council's position declared a state based on an ethno-religious grounds that had not had a demographic majority in the region for over two thousand years,

http://palestineisraeltrusteeship.blogspot.com/
I'm not entirely sure what you're suggesting Stewart. The term "Homeland" is the same term Jews used, and was undoubtedly adopted because the Jews are indiginous to this area, this being the start of the Jewish nation. In modern times, how do you envisage a "homeland" that is not a state? Given that the Balfour Declaration was issued in response to lobbying by early Zionists, whose only interest was a state from the earliest days (note Herzl, the father of modern Zionism's "Judenstaad" ... the Jewish State). Semantics are just that.

What was envisaged is exactly what Israel became ... a state in which Arabs and Jews live and work as equal citizens. The local Arabs were in no way disadvantaged by being part of Israel, rather they enjoy lefestyles and rights that they could never have achieved outside Israel. Israel's D4eclaration of Independence, which serves as the source of Israel's Basic Law (equivalent to Constitution) sets out these rights in detail.

I suppose we can discuss selective fairness, rather than historical imperative, but overall fairness requires trade-offs, so you're right, it would be unfair that Arab citizens of Haifa couldn't live as Arabs and practice their Arab heritage ... but the new State of Israel catered to this as best as it could. It made Arabic an official Israeli language, and Israel's Arab citizens have continued conversing in Arabic, going to mosques having their own schools, TV programs, but they also serve as judges and parliamentarians, as partners in the state. It's not ideal, but a lot better than the partition of India to form Pakistan, where millions were uprooted. Personally, I think Israel did well, you may disagree. Certainly any Arab citizen of Israel who feels that his self-determination is being jeapordised is free to move to, say, Jordan, and practice it to the nth degree. This is the same freedom that all we members of democracies share. If I was to decide that my self-determination is best served by moving to Switzerland because I identify with something there, and can't change it where I am, then that is what I do (assuming they accept me).

Stewart, it wasn't "a failure to protect", the Jews were expelled by those governements, told they must leave everything behind, and had their departure supervised in most cases ... those lucky enough to leave at all. But it doesn't matter, we are clearly agreed that compensation should be paid.

Can you direct me to where the UN rejected its own partition plan? It's not something I recall, though I'm not sure it has much relevance. As to statehood, every group has the right to declare itself a state, and will become one when duly recognised. Israel was, and was adopted into the family of nations. The Palestinians have, and if they stop their "leadership" trying to destroy Israel, they will begin to be recognised as a nation in good standing.

Rejection of the partition plan By Arabs is one thing, the viscious attack by the armies of 5 nations aimed at eliminating the Jewish presence, is quite another. Israel lost 1% of its population in that attack, and hung on by the skin of its teeth against all odds. In modern American terms that would have the impact of about 4 million dead.

As to your last point, Stewart, when Israel was declared, the territory on which it stood did have a majority Jewish population by a ration of 60/40. But that, too is moot. The mandate that Britain received, and flaunted, called on Britain to "encourage Jewish immigration" ... instead Britiain put ridiculous limits on immigration, put some illegal immigrants fleeing the horrors of the Holocaust behind barbed wire in Cyprus, while sending others back to their deaths ... all this whilst turning a blind eye to ever increasing illegal Arab immigration that changed the area's demography, and may well be the cause of the current problems. None of this was what the League of Nations envisaged ... it envisaged a Jewish homeland on the territory west of the Jordan river, with an Arab (Palestinian) homeland had been established on the 80% of Palestine east of the river.

The two territories were administered concurrently by the British Mandate, and attained independence almost simaltaneously with the end of the Mandate. The only thing that had changed were British allegiences.
Mick

1. The British White Papers showed British respect for the Jewish heritage to the land but rejected partition – i.e a home is not a state

The British White Paper’s of 1939 and 1922
(i) distinguished a Jewish home from a Jewish state
(ii) rejected the creation of a Jewish State

The British White Paper’s rejection of a Jewish State (1939)
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/brwh1939.asp

“His Majesty's Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country.”…“His Majesty's Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.”

The British White Paper rejection of a Jewish State (1922)
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/brwh1922.asp

“The tension which has prevailed from time to time in Palestine is mainly due to apprehensions, which are entertained both by sections of the Arab and by sections of the Jewish population. These apprehensions, so far as the Arabs are concerned are partly based upon exaggerated interpretations of the meaning of the [Balfour] Declaration favouring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, made on behalf of His Majesty's Government on 2nd November, 1917.

2. Herzl was open to creating a Jewish state in other parts of the world not just the historic homeland of the Hebrews

Yes initially Herzl wanted a Jewish state in the historic region of the Hebrew people. Herzl a true diplomat tried to see if enough land could be bought to create such a state. However, this was against the wishes of the Ottoman Sultan. Further Herzl could not persuade the German Kaiser to encourage the Sultan to change. That is why Herzl sought out British support for creating a state in alternate places such as Sudan. This was a source of great anguish and debate within the World Zionist Congress.

3. Israel does have an enviable democratic and legal system – but it still can do better

Yes there are many examples of respect for Arabic language and Palestinian culture within Israel. Yes, there are many states that have much to learn from how Israel attempts to balance diverse communities. However, how are Arabs denied equal rights by not making military service compulsory for Arab Israelis? What message does it send to Arab Israelis to be denied compulsory military service? How would compulsory military service for Arab Israelis change Israel’s military actions?

4. Respect the Palestinian Arab cultural, meaning, identity and legal rights to land

What is unique about someone’s home? What does it show about our sensitivity to another if we expect a resident of Haifa with deep connection to the land to be told they must move to Amman to make way for a community that had not had a majority in the land for over two thousand years?

5. The UN Security Council rejection of the partition plan is critical in understanding the unfairness of the proposed plan

For the Jewish Agency’s response to rejection of the Plan and the US call for UN trusteeship. see
UN Security Council Official Records
No. 52, 277th meeting April 1948
p. 5 . Read Mr Shertok’s response. Read also the response in late March 1948.

Statement by Ambassador Warren R. Austin, United States Representative in the Security Council, March 19, 1948
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/decad166.asp

http://www.mideastweb.org/us_supportforstate.htm

6. The number of Arabs living in the proposed Jewish state would have exceeded the number of Jews if Jaffa had not been excised and Bedouins had been included in the census.

According to the UNSCOP Report the proposed Jewish State had a slim majority of 498,000 Jews to 407,000 non-Jews (i.e the Jewish state had 55% Jews and 45% Jews). However, UNSCOP also goes on to indicate that the number of Arabs living in the Jewish state was greater than the number of Jews, given:

(a) Jaffa the largest Palestinian Arab town (with a population of 55,000 Muslims, 16,000 Christians and 30,000 Jews) was excised from the Jewish state and placed into the Arab state despite being geographically cut-off from the Arab state.

To demonstrate the precariousness of such a decision Jaffa was a prime target for the Jewish military and was surrounded and defeated by Irgun (led by Menachem Begin) and Haganah on 12 May 1948 two days before the Jewish Agency declared the state of Israel (Lapidot).

http://www.etzel.org.il/english/ac18.htm

(b) 90,000 Bedouins were not included in the Jewish state despite being permitted to live in the Jewish State to graze during the dry season. This potentially underestimated the number of Arabs in the Jewish state (UNSCOP 1947).

UNSCOP
http://www.mideastweb.org/unscop1947.htm
http://palestineisraeltrusteeship.blogspot.com/

Mick, I appreciate the time you took in your previous response. I am sure there is much we can learn from each other.

Final reflection.

Steps to peace

If we wish to resolve the conflict communities must

1. Cease the violence. The deaths of 18 Israelis in 5 years to rocket attacks does not serve the cause of peace. The deaths of 14 Palestinians a week from 2000-2007 does not serve the cause of peace.

2. Talk to one another. Hamas, Fatah and Israel need to talk to one another. Stalling tactics from either side is not an option. All communities need to respect the dignity and security of another.

3. Stick to agreements. Agreements made need to be followed. Doubling the size of settlements in the West Bank since Oslo, keeping the Palestinians’ impoverished and weak does not serve peace. Killing Israelis through suicide bombings does not serve the cause of peace.

4. Acknowledge the betrayal felt by both communities. Betrayal by the international community to allow the Palestinian Arab community to be expelled from their homes following defeat in the 1948 war. Betrayal by the international community to support creation of a Jewish state as compensation for the European Jewish Shoah. Betrayal by the Europeans for allowing discrimination and persecution of Jews and the Shoah.

5. Learn each others language, history and culture.

6. Seek mutually beneficial solutions not individualistic ones.

7. Empathise with the other. See each other as both having communities that have suffered through history and both seeking to live with dignity, purpose and security.

8. Accept that there will be a minority that will continue to hate for generations, but trust and build friendships with the majority who just seek to make a better life for their family.

9. Dream for a future where Palestinian and Jewish people who have a common heritage can live together as neighbours and friends.

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