by Jeremy Rabie
War at the best of times represents a failure of policy. War, at the worst of times, reflects the usually hidden vested interests of the perpetrators. Unless a war is just, such as the fight against fascism in World War II, the real losers in war are you and me, the people. Unjust wars seek to meet the needs of the perpetrators who canít obtain their objectives on a business as usual basis.
Unfortunately, Israel has become used to seeing military might as an end in itself, presented as the sole guarantor of Israelís security. A cold headed cynic may say Ė itís worked up to now. Many vested interests (including those of the external supporters of Israel) have been sustained. But you and me, the people, have lost. History will not (it never has) allow an unbalanced situation like this to exist forever. The policy has been very short sighted, and actually the price Israel has paid for U.S. support has been incredibly high.
It has been a convenient situation for the perpetrators, because for them it has facilitated an atmosphere of ďbusiness as usual.Ē But we have to recognize that the world is changing vis-ŗ-vis global warming and environmental disaster, looming energy problems, water shortages, resource shortages and the changing world strategic balance. We the people, can either allow things to go on in the same way, or realize that we will not survive as a species unless we start relating to each other and tackling our common problems in a new way.
The white elephant in the Israeli room, the main issue that seems to be ignored in the mainstream media, is the just aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people.
Sections of both sides of this conflict have vested interests in maintaining the current status quo. The Palestinians have also made serious mistakes in the past few decades. But, we the people can draw a line in the sand, must draw a line beyond which we say: Letís mourn our dead together and figure out how we move forward in a different way.
We can give ourselves the luxury of not starting off this discussion with the usual first question Ė that of Israelís security. Israel has the fourth largest military outfit on the planet. It is time that Israel used this military might for peace, instead of for war. In addition, the question of the recognition of Israelís right to exists is a furphy (rumor). Israel does exist, and playing with this now is simply mischievous.
A one state solution is not on the table right now. People on both sides would not accept it Ė yet. But humanity is slowly entering a phase that may gradually see the end of nations. I believe that this will be driven by our need to find solutions to problems that threaten our survival as a species. The real alternative to this is to continue killing each other and, thus, the end of humanity. A single state solution will inevitably happen over time, but hopefully in a completely new context.
A two-state solution still offers a vehicle to solve many problems, to put new ideas on the table, to create a platform for slowly creating the conditions to meet the needs of the Palestinian people, to broker a real peace between Israel and all of its neighbors and to find real security for all participants.
I donít understand how the Palestinians can allow the current lack of unity, especially between Fatah and Hamas. Israel exploited this lack of unity, although it neednít have because it certainly had better options (if genuinely interested in the search for peace). It must be said that enough is enough. All sides should be highly motivated to build a strong democratic system within Palestine where all parties can peacefully struggle for democratic representation within the legitimate democratic institutions. It should be the intention of both the Israelis and the Palestinians to bring the sides together, to create a new political environment, and to build real democracy.
There are plenty of democracy issues on the Israeli side waiting to be tackled as well, by the way. Israelis have become used to complacently thinking of themselves as living in a democratic oasis, but have failed to react to the unhealthy relationship between Israeli democratic and military institutions. The militarization of Israeli society needs to be unmasked, as well as the results of key relationships, such as that which exists with the United States. What are U.S. interests in the Middle East? It is also time to reject the backward looking biblical view of the world and expose the colonization of Gaza and the West Bank, as the land grab it was.
Sharon, before he slipped into a convenient coma, used to say that Israel would have to make painful concessions in the pursuit of peace. While Iím sure he had a very limited agenda in mind, he was nevertheless correct. Is it possible to start thinking about a different way forward? What would it look like? Is the below a starting point for discussion? The points are not presented against a timeline, but as a framework for discussion.
The struggle for peace has to be taken out of the hands of the vested interests, and put into the hands of you and me, the moderate majority of people on both sides of the wall. While this is the harder road, lack of involvement is simply acquiescence. There is a desperate shortage of leaders on both sides of the fence and such grass roots participation will throw up a new crop of ideas, leaders and solutions.
Israel will, over a period of time, need to withdraw to the 1967 borders. A two state solution is realistic if set up to meet the needs of both sides.
Palestinian unity needs to be rebuilt. Palestinians need to be assisted to build a modern, democratic, secular state, where all parties have the right to contest for the popular support of their ideas. It goes without saying that the world community must support any democratic decisions made by the Palestinians.
Israeli democracy has also been found wanting, and needs a complete review and overhaul.
Palestinians need to move to full and inalienable statehood over a corresponding period of time.
The full facilities need to be built within Palestinian lands enabling the creation of all the normal institutions.
An economic union needs to be part of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian economy must be repaired, along with infrastructure, and grow, as rapidly as possible.
Then, we need a regional peace deal between all of the frontline states, and then the rest of the region.
We need a Middle East Union, which can look to the EU as an example.
On this platform, once stable, all issues can be discussed, including the right of return, compensation, the status of Jerusalem, etc. This will require patience, care, moderation and preparedness to do things gradually with plenty of confidence building measures, and popular involvement and support.