Settler/Palestinian Dialogue and Action- Justified Cooperation??

I just posted a blog-post here about some settler activity in Gush Etzion..not the usual activity, but activity centered around bridge building with and human rights of Palestinians.

Meetings are planned with residents of larger villages in the region, to talk and listen and enjoy each others company.

This is part of an effort to raise consciousness and commitment to human and political responsibility for the situation and plight of Palestinians who live under our control and to develop meaningful dialogue and human relationships with them

Some people think that Palestinians should not cooperate with settlers on any front, including such dialogue. My position is clear.

What do you think?

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I understand the Palestinian fear of "normalization" which is acceptance the reality and occupation instead of going back to pre 1948 and one Arab state.

But reality is more complex and we have in our reality the state of Israel and the potential of change where Palestinian National state will be formed. I think that it is good that Palestinian and Settlers will meet and I think that it is important to discuss the complexity of the situation beyond blame and fear to be able to create a new future that include all of us, the settlers and the people who reject "normalization" included in such future
I think discussion is always beneficial but I also think body language and the spirit of the human heart only presents itself in person and these dialogues,or coffees or meetings are always good
putting a face on the differing voices
and it takes one person to start an initiative and let it grow as a movement in some way
so was the civil rights movement born and it was a very very uphill climb to remain nonviolent and to have leaders who could sustain the philosophy

decades and decades
and when the media started showing the extent of the injustices then govt. stepped in and Lyndon johnson abolished the color ban
i don't know who can alter the course of actions that some unthinking non-visionary people undertake in the middle east as suicide bombers etc or as settlement aggressors with arms against arabs
for as we share the land and the air so do we share the blood
it seems one takes 5 steps forward and then maybe 6 back when violence prevails
however it is not acceptable to give up and it is not acceptable to ignore each side
the thing that is i believe is a common front is how in the middle east as in the southern US each side was always defined by the other
and this is indicative of ongoing problems between 2 differing factions
so we see each other through the eyes of our aggressors perhaps and we share the visions
Myron one can never go back once one has crossed into the welcome lines of communication and open dialogues and hope
and so it is
and i am sorry I cannot join you in person in these wonderful endeavors
god bless you all
and may this world support peace in the middle east
Real cooperation can only happen if the goals and context are clear, perhaps toward a common political platform. Dialog for its own sake has not historically worked in this country. There have been dialog groups between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1970s, yet they have had no impact at the political level.

If we take our lead from other societies that have evolved from colonial/settler regimes into forms of democracy, then it becomes clear that only after the political matrix has changed, from a repressive regime to democracy, can any real dialog and reconciliation begin. Ireland and South Africa are appropriate examples.

If settlers and Palestinians can hold discussions that focus on imagining possible futures together - as equals, then they might be productive. For instance having a series of meetings to discuss how life might change if settlers remained in Palestine (West bank) after the new state is formed. Questions can be posed. Should the settlers who choose to remain become Palestinian citizens or remain Israeli with residency permits in Palestine. What about the possibility of a Union of Israel and Palestine where citizens of the respective countries have the right of abode within each others territory - without permission as it is in the European Union today.

This type of context can focus discussion on the hard questions. and perhaps evolve into organized advocacy for common goals.
The group that I coordinate, Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace brought Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa and Sheikh Ghassan Manasra of Nazareth to the US last year to talk about their efforts to inspire a peoples peace movement in the West Bank. Haaretz has covered some recent steps by their new found group, "Yerushalom" as Palestinians and settlers sit down and begin to seach for common ground. I think that the only path to peace is a path involving conversations between the inhabitants of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza too. It is not talking alone, but real deep listening by all peoples that will create a space for understanding an "other," and beginning to consider how peace could work. May the process continue.....



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