Not that enthusiastic about the so-called peace proposal

It's always so depressing. And it just gets worse. Buidling walls may slow down violence between two peoples but it won't stop it. Peace will.

So Israel has proposed a peace plan to the Palestinians. The Israeli government wants to keep all of the major settlements in the West Bank and the land on the Israeli side of the Wall -- remember when everyone said the Wall wasn't permanent. It can be torn down. Don't worry! It's just an effort to stop violence and bring about peace.

Yea, right! It's a land grab that also helped block, in a shortterm way, violence and resistance.

And, the Israelis want to take about 10 percent of the West Bank (and that doesn't include the chunk they took in annexing East Jerusalem and all that land which includes half of the illegal settlements), and give the palestinians about 6 percent of land in the Negev Desert.

No sharing of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem stays with Israel.

Israel isn't saying, we can talk about Jerusalem sharing later. They're not saying, the wall is temporary -- like they used to say over and over again about the wall, and about the settlements. Remember that one? Oh, we need the sewttlements for "security." Sound familiar. The settlements were supposed to create security. Now, the settlements need security and the Wall is supposed to provide security. Pretty soon, Israel will be building a wall around the wall to make the wall secure.

Well, if there ever was a plan to ignite continued conflict, that's it.

I don't know. I'm a big supporter of two states. But this will kill the idea if it continues. Sounds more like a politically-driven plan to make the fanatics in Israel happy, like Nejamin Netanyahu and his street crew. Or, maybe, it's a plan to make the Palestinians say "no" since the Israeli government knows it is a lousy plan and the Palestinians won't accept it and the priority isn't peace but to create a political diversion to impact Israeli politics.

Too bad for peace. We knew thee well ...

Ray Hanania

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Comment by Yigal D. Kahana on August 14, 2008 at 1:04am

Now that's funny.
Comment by Hayyim Feldman on August 14, 2008 at 1:00am
Salaam-shalom Ray and Yigal,

Ray, thanks for hanging in here, despite all the "noise".

You wrote in your blog entry:
the priority isn't peace but to create a political diversion to impact Israeli politics.

To impact Israeli politics, yes; diversion, no. One thing about ineffective and self-serving Israeli leaders: They have a sense of history that enables them to see a bigger picture, beyond their own excessively inflated egos. Take Ehud Barak, for example - a control freak if there ever was one. As a minister in the Rabin government he strenuously opposed the Oslo agreement because, in his estimation, it threatened to lead to a peace agreement between Israel and a viable Palestinian state. As PM himself, he did all he could to bend the Oslo framework toward a different objective: a fragmented and encircled Palestinian dependency. Arafat, corrupt as he may have been, declined the offer of a small but lucrative puppet-throne - whether out of principle (as I think) or fear of assassination (as some others think). But Barak made that lemon into some powerful lemonade: Barak paid a steep political price for his failure at Camp David, losing re-election to Ariel Sharon (refuah shleimah!). But in Israeli eyes (not to mention America's) that same epic failure became, with Bill Clinton's help, "proof" of all the old canards - that Arafat all along wanted the whole pre-partition pie, that there is no Palestinian partner for peace, etc. In my view, Barak acted like a true statesman, sacrificing his personal political fortune for the dearly held national ideal he shares with almost the entire entrenched Israeli political class: continued domination of the whole of Mandate Palestine/Eretz Israel.

(That agenda orignally served as a mere strategic instrument for - and is now the greatest threat to - the zionist establishment's underlying historic motivation: to secure a sovereign future for the Jewish nation there. Even rightists like Sharon and Olmert have recognized the contradiction, but unlike most Israelis, they seem whether by habit or by fear to have become attached more to what was once the means than to their former purpose.)

Ray, you made it clear that you value long-term vision and commitment to principles such as I'm claiming Barak displayed (if not his particular vision and set of principles) when you wrote:
I do agree this is all about politics and not a genuine peace. It's just to help with the upcoming elections. But, if it were up to me and I were Olmert, I'd quickly sign a "fair" deal one the Palestinians can accept -- which will be rejected by most Palestinians ... and by most Israelis. But in the end, forcing a settlement will eventually be accepted the way things are accepted today.

Halavai! - If only it could be so! Unfortunately, Olmert is, like the rest of the bunch, values territory more than the stable peace provided by a (more or less) fair agreement. But the thing is, Olmer is acting rather like Barak, on a much less dramatic scale. I'm sure he has no illusions about his latest proposal being able to save his own political skin in the immediate future. What it can do instead is to help reinforce the prevailing ideological blinders as Israel enters into its next major political transition, in which no party or political vision has the public's trust. And, parenthetically of course, it can add Olmert's name to the official roster of Israel's loyal zionist leadership, in preparation for the day when he, like Barak (who was very widely reviled not so many years ago), can make his political comeback.

And on the PA's side of the equation, too, which you didn't discuss: When, since the "first" (only) intifadah, has any leadership of the Palestinian national "movement" seriously tried to mobilize the Palestinian people in a campaign for any vision of a reasonably just peace or against any of the abuses you name? When have they given more than lip service to local, grass roots efforts to do so? When have they acted, or supported others who act, in such a way as to convey to Israelies the hunger in their belly not just for bread and freedom and some measure of justice but for peace?

All this is supports how completely right Neri was to say:

The real work is within our culture and your kind of activity has higher value the all this peace agreements paper these guys are signing.

(Well, making cocktail conversation about signing.)

Instead of looking at peace as a goal we should look our task as a vast social shift in the mind of people that we share one future.

That cultural work, that shift of consciousness, is what mepeace is potentially such a good venue for us to practice. I think many of us here who feel ready to move in that direction, and who have have arrived at that readiness by way of a certain level (not to be exaggerated) of political agreement, face a certain challenge here: The shift we seek seldom happens by way of political discussion and debate. That's because it is essentially not a shift in of ideas, but of the heart. And so I think (after my long political discourse) we can best use this space to practice listening more deeply than we are used to and speaking more deeply than we are comfortable with. As all Abrahamic traditions teach, "words spoken from the heart can reach the heart."

You began your blog entry by saying, "It's always so depressing. And it just gets worse." Please know that you are not the only one here (far from it, I'm sure) who gets depressed by the depths of human cruelty, callousness, and denial, in particular by the seemingly unnecessary stubbornness of these qualities in the Holy Land, and even among those who simply try to discuss the Holy Land. (T)Here, more than anywhere else, the failure of compassion blasts away at our faith in the promise that something better is possible, a faith rooted in the Land of Promise to which G!d led our great-grandfather Ibrahim. I too get more depressed than I usually let on.

In, I see a sheltered nook of that Land of Promise, a place where the faith has not been snuffed that maybe we can make something better, that we can create a community in which our desire to recognize ourselves in the mirror of the other's eyes, and our joy in each other's miraculous presence, prevail over our rage and fear.

That, I think is what too many generations of Jews, and now too many generations of Palestinians, dreamed of in longing for return. Hatikvah (title of the Israeli national anthem, meaning "Hope"), a Hebrew-speaker might call it. Is there a word with a similar sort of resonance for speakers of Arabic, or just for Palestinians? "To be a free people in our own land," the song says. Free from what? From the miserable ways other people too often saw us and treated us. By us treating them that way instead? Somehow, I doubt that was ever the essence of the dream, outside a few sociopaths.

But despite the association of that song title with the zionist State of Israel, I don't believe for a moment that the dream stands or falls with the state. Not with any political state, or pair of states, of (con)federation of states, or dismantling of states. It's not fundamentally about how we organize ourselves politically, as peoples (as opinionated as I am about that). It's about how we perceive and treat each other as people.

I'm not concerned about people with "extreme" vs. moderate political views. I'm concerned about people willing to resort to extreme (threatening, coercive, violent) actions against their neighbors. On mepeace, that takes the form of extreme language, turning one's pain, rage, or fear into a weapon aiming word-bullets at one's readers to accuse, demean, or personally attack those with whom one disagrees. The "moderates" I want are people who, regardless of their political (or religious, whatever) perspective, are willing to moderate their own behavior, to catch themselves before they fly off the handle when their buttons get pushed, who look inside to "sense into" the deeper message in their heart - whether it be critique, vision, support, story, passionate feeling, or request - and state it firmly and directly, without rancor.

In my view, that's how we make peace, justice, and reconciliation. And meanwhile I give my modest blessings to the politicians and diplomats who want to try to find fair and mutually acceptable formulations that might give us a more hospitable environment in which to do our real work of building a contagious culture of peace.

Comment by Ray Hanania on August 13, 2008 at 6:26pm
I admire you Yehudith ... we don't have to agree on everything, but I respect the right of Jews to have their own homeland ... and even to have disagreements. I think public opinion changes and one majority one day is meaningless the next, so have heart. Most Israelis (clearly not all) want a genuine peace and an end to the conflict. The conflict feeds emotions and anger and sometimes we think a majority is a majority when it is not.

So don't be discouraged. Peace will overcome the hatemongers, the extremists, the bullies who want to impose their views on everyone, and the greedy who believe that they and only they have a right to live in a land that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Best regards here at

Hey, has anyone thought of starting a facebook-like group called I have a few candidates to "transfer" there as part of a respect-for-peace accord :)

Comment by Neri Bar-On on August 13, 2008 at 4:50pm
Comment by Ray Hanania on August 13, 2008 at 2:32pm
Thanks Seth ... I'll try to answer them since you asked me :)

The Palestinians feel a kinship with the Jordanians and Syrians and Egyptians as Arabs. So when Jordan took control of the West Bank after 1967, they didn't do it declaring they were going to settle it with Jordanians. They said they were protecting it until the Partition Plan which divided Palestine could be rescinded and one state for Christians, Muslims and Jews could be established. That's why there were no attacks against Jordan. Jordan wasn't trying to confiscate Palestinian land and then expel the Palestinians.

By the way, it is true many Palestinian Christians and Muslims remained in what is now Israel, but they live as second-class citizens. Their ID cards distinguish them by their religion as being "non-Jews" they don't get the same recognition nor support from the government and their people are denied jobs, promotions and the same standard of living afforded Jews who step off the plane from, say, Russia. Wow. They really did well for themselves by staying :)

Seriously, regardless of all the points you make, they don't impact the final truth. Is peace worth fighting for, or is it worth only fighting against.

Do you want the land and continued violence more than you want the peace and non-violence? I think that is the question Israelis need to answer.

I think the question Palestinians must answer is, Do you want the idealistic truth and continued violence or do you want a peace and a non-violent reality?

Israel exists whether I agree with what happened in 1948 or not. 60 years have passed. I argue Palestinians should accept the reality of the situation and accept a mini-State. I also think they have every right to fight to get rid of the settlements -- that doesn't mean Jews can;t live in Palestine or in the West Bank. The issue is not the presence of Jews in the West Bank but rather the sovereignty of Israel in the West Bank. Those settlers don't live under Palestinian laws and are armed to the teeth and are surrounded by battalions of soldiers. (Personally, what an ugly life living as a settler knowing that another human being lived there and you took their land and homes?) So, let Israel keep the settlements, but they can be under palestinian control.

That is in response to your point about Jews living or not living in the West Bank.

And thanks Paul for your notations. It is exhausting to keep going over, and over, and over the same arguments that have been stated and answered. I try to listen but sometimes I think new faces have never heard.

Ray Hanania
Comment by Paul RETI on August 13, 2008 at 8:40am

Ray commented that:

"the Arab countries would allow the Jewish refugees to return to the lands and homes and be compensated ... obviously there is a difference here. You say Jews "left" I say they left because they wanted to leave ... Palestinians "left" but I say they didn't want to leave and they want to go back. There is no equivalency ..."

For specific discussions of this topic please see:

What is axiomatic for some, is not necessarily axiomatic for others. Having different axiomatic views is not banned nor is it heresy here, I trust.

Ray concluded with:

I knew it would be hard to be on an Israeli organized "Peace" list, but I think it is worth trying hard to stay here.

What is axiomatic for some, is not necessarily axiomatic for others. Unlike on many other PEACE lists and PEACE forums, having different axiomatic views is not banned nor is it heresy here, I trust.

Comment by Seth Levy on August 13, 2008 at 6:07am
Oh, and Palestinians did chose to leave initially as can be seen by the many Arabs who decided to stay in Israel instead of leave during the 1947 war as their leaders told them to and subsequently became Israeli citizens.
Comment by Seth Levy on August 13, 2008 at 6:06am
If Israel was any other country, the West Bank would have been annexed after the 1967 war. Why? The West Bank was part of Jordan, Jordan (along with other countries) fought a war with Israel, lost, and gave Israel the West Bank as peace agreement. Next, I assume you will claim that prior to 1967 the West Bank did not rightfully belong to Jordan and I preemptively ask, why then was there no armed resistance against Jordan? Why were there no suicide attacks in Amman? Do you forget that there were Jews living in the West Bank prior to 1947 who now cannot live in their homes? You do not hear much about them because they understood that after the 1947 war Israel did not include that land. People were upset, sure, but they accepted the truth.
By you saying that Jews left Arab countries by choice, you clearly show you do not understand the history of the Jewish refugees in Arab countries, a history that is very clearly detailed in other discussions on this website.
Comment by Ray Hanania on August 13, 2008 at 5:57am
Thanks Seth for your comments ... the Arab countries would allow the Jewish refugees to return to the lands and homes and be compensated ... obviously there is a difference here. You say Jews "lewft" I say they left because they wanted to leave ... Palestinians "left" but I say they didn't want to leave and they wan tto go back. There is no equivalency ...

As for whow ins, neither side really wins, but the Arabs can afford to lose longer than Israel ... I don't want to be taken care of by the Jordanians. I want my land. It was in the West Bank and you annexed it. Now you want to prevent me from developing it. Shouldn't that be considered wrong? Or, should I just shrug my shoulders and say, welll it's only fair that I lose my land near Jerusalem and Gilo because some Jewish person lost his land in Syria? I don't think so. I think I have a right to decide my option to fight for my rights ... I chose by words and respect. Some others do not, not just Palestinians but Israelis, too.

Why is it also that you left 2000 years ago and have a right to return and yet the Palestinians left only 60 years ago and don't have a right to return.

I believe the Palestinian refugees have an absolute rock solid legal right to return to their lands and homes. BUT ... I also recognize that for the sake of peace and non-violence, everyone has to make a sacrifice. What's Israel's sacrifice? That you don't get to keep the Ouccpied West Bank?

I don't expect you to agree, but I do hope you hear.

Thanks for sharing your views

I knew it would be hard to be on an Israeli organized "Peace" list, but I think it is worth trying hard to stay here.

Comment by Yigal D. Kahana on August 13, 2008 at 5:45am
Well put Ray,
I agree with all of that.
The real problem is in defining what is "fair" under the circumstances.
Also, I see ending the Arab-Israeli conflict as an integral part of the fight against the Supremacist/extremists, and not just a distinct prequel.


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