Attempt to Jump Start Israel/Palestine Peace

Editor’s Note:  I do not know the person who wrote to the King of Saudi Arabia or to Chancellor Merkel–he apparently lives in Europe. And I doubt if anything will come of this effort without first a massive funding of what I call “an Empathy Tribe” to work both in Israel and Palestine and break through the fears that both sides have of each other. And at the moment, I’ve seen no openness from any funders to provide that funding. Nevertheless, I believe that little steps like approaching national leaders in the U.S., Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and wherever else they can be reached to begin to challenge the high level of defeatism and pessimism about achieving peace is a good thing, so I commend this particular effort by Abraham van Kampen deserves our praise and support. Please read all that he has sent me, and if you then have any ties to foundations, government officials, or wealthy individuals, ask them if they would be willing to fund the creation of an empathy tribe that could begin the work of undermining the hatred and fear that keeps the Occupation in place. This, rather than coercion (political, military, or economic) is the most likely step to begin a “break-0n-through-to-the-other-side” consciousness that might restart a real peace process as opposed to political posturing. With that in mind, do read the letter this person sent to me, and the letters he sent to Chancellor Merkel and to the ruler of Saudi Arabia.   Please read my book Embracing Israel/Palestine to get a fuiller understanding of the strategy I suggest (it can be purchased at www.tikkun.org/EIP  and if you can’t afford the $17.95 but really want to read it, we can get it to you electronically or send the hard copy free if others will donate to Tikkun at www.tikkun.org/donate, so you can send a note explaining why you can’t afford it to staci@tikkun.org and she will find a way to get it to you).                                                                                                                           —  Rabbi Michael Lerner                  RabbiLerner.tikkun@gmail.com

To:Rabbi Michael Lerner PhD

Editor

Tikkun

2342 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 1200

Berkeley, CA 94704

USA

From: ABRAHAM A. VAN KEMPEN   , The Hague, The Netherlands

 

Dear Rabbi Lerner,

 

  • Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Golan  beats me to it, immediately followed by the most militant spoke person for Palestinian rights in the Knesset, MemberMs. Haneen Zoabi. Had they not broken the ice, my letter to Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, entitled ‘Mr. Netanyahu, be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle’ (revised from ‘Mr. Netanyahu tear down those walls’) could not be as frank.

 

Rabbi Lerner, I would appreciate it very much if you would consider going to buildingthebridge.eu and click on my open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, located on the upper right hand side of the home page.

 

  • General Yair Golan: “On Holocaust Memorial Day, it is appropriate to discuss our own ability to uproot from our midst signs of intolerance, signs of violence, and self-destruction on the path toward moral deterioration”.

  • Knesset Member Ms. Haneen Zoabi: “The Holocaust obligates us not to be silent when racist laws are legislated, not to be silent when natives are exiled, not to be silent when their land and property is stolen, not to be silent when entire neighborhoods and entire families are bombed and wiped off the face of the earth, and not to be silent when political activists are put in administrative detention. …”

Writing to Dr. Merkel was tough and challenging, almost grueling. I sweated through 10 drafts, in a span of 11 weeks. That’s how long it took to round off the rough edges, to honor, respect and dignify the German–Israeli/Palestinian perspectives. It was a balancing act on thin ice with a sword over my head hanging on a silk thread. I honestly thought it was the best letter I’ve ever written until I completed my letter to His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud several weeks later.

My question: Your Majesty, … if Israel/Palestine returns to the pre-1967 borders (a big ‘if’) and if Israelis foster the return of the several million Palestinian refugees (a bigger ‘if’), including their children, grand children and great-grand children, to freely move, live and work inside the Israeli/Palestinian homeland, how could the Israelis and Palestinians be assured that this road towards peace would even become more peaceful?

“Your Majesty, any peace accord, minus full reconciliation, will inevitably collapse … without incorporating the proposed ‘EU Complement’ to your Arab Peace Initiative, the wounds will only be temporarily soothed, letting the disease to stealthily spread and eventually erupt and explode again”.

 

The ‘8-Points EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative’ could serve as the catalytic game changer to forever stop any further cataclysmic calamities between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It sweetens the Arab Peace Initiative, a long awaited brew, like the Manna from Heaven. (Please go to buildingthebridge.eu and click on the letter to King Abdulaziz Al-Saud).

 

  • I’ve had a chance to review your materials and your 8-point plan”, says Cheri Maples from the US-based Center for Mindfulness and Justice. “I think it’s the best proposal I’ve seen — complete and fair to both sides with restorative justice built in.  I’m hoping that over here, the Democratic nominee for President, Secretary Hillary Clinton, will take your proposal to heart and support it. I will forward it to others”.

All that I want to say, with all the good, bad and ugly infused into my two letters, is summed up in Ms. Naomi Shihab Nye profound poem, ‘Kindness’, imbedded in the hearts of tens of thousands around the world, including mine, excerpted as follows:

 

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.”

  

With every good wish to you, Rabbi Lerner, I remain,

Sincerely,

BUILDING THE BRIDGE FOUNDATION, THE HAGUE

Abraham A. van Kempen

Editor

P.S. Please pass on this message. Thank you!

Two-page Introductory Open Letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel

July 13, 2016The Hague

Mr. Netanyahu, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” Philo of Alexandria, Hellenized Jewish Philosopher (20 BCE to 40 CE)

June 27, 2016The HagueBundeskanzleramt

Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel

Willy-Brandt-Straße 1

10557 Berlin

Germany

Open letter from Abraham A. van Kempen to Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Dear Madam Chancellor,

 

Imagine, Madam Chancellor, the Israelis and the Palestinians in full reconciliation, living apart together, within one homeland inside two borderless states, rejoicing freedom of movement and the right of passage, sharing Jerusalem and the region not too different from the BENELUX countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), the forerunners of the open borders of the European Union (EU)? “Can we quietly Cross the Boundary of Life and Find New Meaning in Our Tangled Roots of Our Combined Histories,” a whisper of hope from American poet, Dario Robleto?

 

Destroy Your Enemies By Becoming Friends …

 

What if the Israelis rediscover themselves and build the Zion of my parents’ dreams, a heaven on earth, a Zion belonging to all of Abraham’s descendants, all of God’s children, the God of all mankind? In this light, they can and will destroy their enemies by becoming their friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship? In the collective memory of NEVER AGAIN, the Israeli credo so genetically encoded in their collective history and hysteria, can be changed from “we will fight to the end, if we must…” to “do what’s right” (Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan).

 

Collision Course Against Judaic Conscience …

 

But a revised version of Zionism, to many revealed as a dark side of Judaism, rules and dominates the Israeli zeitgeist beguiling and chaining many Jews into believing in something they are not meant to be. This aberration torments and inters the indigenous Palestinians into concentrated encampments to live a hell on earth. If not officially, certainly subliminally and often dared in the glare of world television, this Revised Zionism incites the Israelis to build a ‘glorious, divinely ordained’ Greater Israelover an obliterated Palestinian society, while waving the banner of Holy Goodness; and, to directly or indirectly transfer the Arab population, to remove the last restraints on the occupation. Zionist leaders from Mr. Ben Gurion to Mr. Binyamen Netanyahu have, according to world public opinion, taken many wrong turns in their territorial obsessions – their rage and blind ambition – to expand their lebensraum. Instead of triumphing in peaceful harmony, they have capitulated to tribal warfare on a collision course against their Judaic conscience, cast in the Commandments decreed to His Beloved and Chosen People. Zionism, meant to be a light in the world, has become a prayer without end.

 

Where to?

 

Recently, the Israelis and the Palestinians have again been provoked by yet another study that, knowingly or unknowingly might be designed to further entangle and worse, ensnare the people in the Region into another inescapable dimension of one vicious cycle after the other at best; a dead end, at worst. Yes, as reported by Ms. Naomi Zeveloff in Forward Magazine ‘new’ analysis of data from the Pew Research Center’sstudy in March 2016, arguably ‘upholds’ that nearly half of all Israeli Jews want Arabs expelled from their midst. No one has bothered to ask: ‘where to?’ Do they expect Europe to welcome more refugees into our midst, at this time?

 

To Be or Not To Be …

 

So, what if the question is rephrased to reach the soul of every Jew, exclusivists and universalist: “Would you want to load up all of Israel’s Arab citizens and every single Palestinian in the Region on flatbed trucks and haul them away, with barely clothes on their backs, blistering under the burning desert sun, to perhaps an Israeli secret processing plant, to be gassed until death; and, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) grabbing the loot to be divided among all the winners of war, like the kibbutz, Israel’s spacious farming communities, ‘built on the ruins of hundreds of Palestinian villages, ethnically cleansed; an occupation that has crushed the rights of Palestinians and caged them into ever-smaller holding pens?’ (Jonathan Cook) What a painful memory of horror that only victims can feel and share, victims on all sides.

 

Wishful Thinking …

 

Transporting all Palestinians from the Region to nowhere is wishful thinking, based on negative fantasies that defy reality. It is as mindless and absurd, if not accusatory and inflammatory, as the fear that Palestinians – helpless and defenseless – will throw the Israelis into the sea or worse, expel the Israelis back to their countries of origin. The Israelis’ wish to further displace Palestinians is as cruel – indecent and inhuman – as Dr. Goebbels’ assertion “compassion is misplaced”, in a speech delivered on November 16, 1941: “World Jewry is now gradually engulfed by the same extermination process they had in mind for us and that they would have no scruples to let it happen to us if they had the power to do so.”

 

Zion – Heaven on Earth …

 

Each day, after each meal, Dr. Merkel, my father age 93 still prays for Israel. He perceives Israel as the Zion – the heaven on earth – articulated in the sacred texts. He can no longer fathom that Israel is anything but the Zion of his dreams, notwithstanding the reality of a Region scarred by human dilemmas. As I have stated to President Obama and others, “Despite Israel’s lethal arsenal, it goes against Israel’s collective conscience to sentence the Palestinians to a Final Solution. There is good in the Israeli character. For many, certainly for my mother, the concentration camp has also been a breeding ground for compassion and tolerance. So, another Holocaust, especially on shared soil, is out of the question.

 

The March 2016 Pew Research Study confirms that any scenario other than peaceful coexistence is delusional, despite presumptive ‘insights’. According to Hebrew Union Professor Steven M. Cohen:

 

  1. Seventy percent of the secular Israeli Jews, or Hilonim, which makes up forty (40) percent of the country’s population, support preferential treatment for Jews over other (non-Jew) Israeli citizen.
  2. Among the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) or the less Orthodox religious (Dati), as many as ninety-five (95) percent believe that ‘Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel.’
  3. Two-thirds or sixty-six (66) percent of the Orthodox public supports theexpulsion of Arabs from the State of Israel.
  4. In contrast, we have almost the reverse among secular Jews: Thirty-seven (37) percent in favor of expulsion and sixty-three (63) percent, opposed.
  5. Significantly, while Orthodox Jews are less than a quarter of the Israeli population, including Arab citizens, they comprise almost two-fifths of those who voted for the parties in the current Israeli government. [Combined] with the secular right-wing Jewish voters, we come to realize that a vast majority of the electorate who supported this government wants to expel or transfer Arabs from Israel, and almost all believe that Jews should get preferential treatment.

The More Versus the Less Holier than Thou Chosen Few…

 

Has the Pew Research Center discovered anything new under the sun, the duality conflict within Judaism? Jews have always been Exclusivists, the Holier than Thou Chosen Few and Universalists, the Less Holier than Thou but Chosen nonetheless. Many seek refuge in both camps, “the notion that the Jewish people need to live apart with an army of their own and the concept that Israel could be part of the world community as a ‘light unto the nations,’ a phrase from the Book of Isaiah,” says Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

 

A World Enraged … Israel Split Apart!

 

If anything, the Study has elicited innate human frailties and fragilities, man’s worst savage, social, Darwinist, Hobbesian nature, propagated by fear of fear, and driven by ‘what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine also’. This explains why Israel governs under semi-martial law; why a half hour away from where most Israelis live, work and play, communities are turned into prisons; why a military medic murders a wounded man (not just any man, a young ‘blood thirty man’ in semi-coma) by shooting him, while down, in the head, an extra judicial execution in cold blood; why those in Gaza are not allowed to evacuate during rains (not just reigns) of terror and why supplies are withheld while people are suffering or dying, lacking medication; and why terror for and against perpetrated by either or both with the inevitable repercussions of reprisals, reigns. Blood begets more blood fortifying the Palestinian resolve to regain their dignity; and, the world is enraged; and Israel, including its Diaspora, is split apart.

 

Light Outshines Darkness…

 

And, light outshines darkness; the more light the less darkness. “We live in a very surprising world where nobody has anticipated the way the Berlin Wall would fall or the Arab Spring would rise up. [President] Obama was unelectable six months before he was elected,” says author Ms. Rebecca Solnit and contributing editor of Harper Magazine. And in this letter, Dr. Merkel, I introduce you to the Building the Bridge Foundation. We are pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian and, especially, pro-peace. We want the best for the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians who crave peace preceded first by guaranteed multilateral security to lock in mutual trust. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everybody wants to wake up to a more fulfilled life. On all sides of the Divide, people do their best to provide food, shelter and education. Jews, Christians, and Muslims everywhere whisper the same daily prayer: “take care of our children”.

 

Take Care of Our Children …

 

To secure peace, we insist on mutual demilitarization, according to the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to be guaranteed by the European Union (EU). It is time Europe steps up to the plate and helps end a conflict it has started. And now, the European Union is the most powerful region on earth with an economy almost larger than the economies of the United States and China combined.

 

Tension and Compromise…

 

Walking the tightrope requires a balancing act, dealing cautiously with tension and compromise. “We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed, words to consider, reconsider,” as cited by Poet Elizabeth Alexander at the first presidential inauguration of Barack H. Obama in January 2009. Hope, unlike optimism, is the struggle from darkness – both real and imagined – to seeking the light at the end of the tunnel. Optimism without hope is merely wishful thinking.

 

A Call for National Introspection… Every German Knows!

 

Serendipitously, on May 4th, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Golan spoke at Israel’s Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies. Mr. Ori Nir from Americans for Peace Now reported: “He called for national introspection” and evoked a dark time in the history of the Jewish people and riveted his listeners to engage in soul-searching. Dr. Merkel, every German can relate to the words uttered by General Golan as he compassionately addressed the Israeli people everywhere:

 

The Holocaust, in my opinion … must lead us to a deep reflection on the responsibilities of leadership, and on the quality of society. It must lead us to think thoroughly about how we – here and now – treat the foreigner, the widow and the orphan, and those similar to them.

 

The Holocaust must lead us to think about our public life, and even more so, it must lead all those who can—not just those who want—to bear public responsibility. Because if there is something that scares us about the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying nauseating processes that occurred in Europe in general and Germany in particular, 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding evidence of their presence here among us, today, in 2016.

 

For there is nothing easier than hating the alien. Nothing is easier and more simple than provoking anxiety and horror. Nothing is easier and simpler than brutalization, jadedness and self-righteousness.

 

On Holocaust Memorial Day, it is appropriate to discuss our own ability to uproot from our midst signs of intolerance, signs of violence, and self-destruction on the path toward moral deterioration.

 

“Democracy [in Israel] is suffering from a growing paralysis because the different sectors of the people live in different worlds,” says Israeli peace activist, Mr. Uri Avnery and recipient of the 2009 Blue Planet Award from the Berlin-based Ethecon Foundation, which advocates: “The ideals of peace, human rights, the preservation of the planet and an ethical economy should be joined together into one whole.” Mr. Avnery continues: “The secular, the national-religious and the Orthodox receive totally different educations. Common ground between them is shrinking. Other rifts are gaping between the old Ashkenazi community, the Oriental Jews, the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and the Arab citizens, whose separation from the rest is increasing all the time.”

 

“Things are far from perfect,” says Mr. Gary Willig, a researcher at the conservative-right Center for Near East Policy Research and a student of communications at Bar Ilan University. In his May 23, 2016 article: ‘Israeli Democracy is Stronger than Ever,’ he writes: “There is still intra-Jewish racism, especially against the Ethiopian community. The continuing conflict with the Palestinians does lead to decreased empathy for the other side. And there is a long way to go before the Arabs can truly be called equal in fact instead of in theory. But Israel is less discriminatory and more democratic now than it ever has been.” Mr. Willig continues:

 

For the first eighteen years of the state’s existence the Arab population was kept under martial law. It was only in 1966 that the labor party ended the martial law and began to allow Arab citizens to integrate.

 

Then there is the discriminatory treatment of non-Ashkenazi, non-secular, and non-Socialist Jews. In a situation reminiscent of the repressive Communist countries, for many years getting ahead in Israel required membership in the right political party, the Labor party. It was harder for a member of the opposition Herut party to find jobs in industries controlled by Labor.

 

Even worse was the treatment of Jews of Mizrachi origin, especially the religious ones. Rather than engage in the process of creating a melting pot society where all traditions are respected in the vein of the United States, the Labor establishment looked with disdain upon the customs and culture of the Jews who fled from other Middle Eastern countries. The discrimination against Mizrachi Jews in those early years was legendary. Mizrachi culture was assaulted on all levels, from the centrality of the family to the importance of religion.

 

Allegations persist of a plot in the 1950s to steal children from Yemenite mothers in order to give them to Ashkenazi families and raise them in a purely secular environment. Though several investigations have concluded that this never happened, the episode still reveals a callous disregard for the Yemenite parents, who were not told that their children were dead or even allowed to be present for the burials.

 

 

In the case of Israel’s Arab citizens, things are improving as well. An Arab judge sits on the Supreme Court with power over Jewish claimants. Arab parties make up a tenth of the Knesset and could conceivably become the main opposition party. And after so much neglect for so long, the government is taking steps to invest heavily in the Arab community to build infrastructure and improve policing.”

 

Measurably More Accommodating…

 

General Golan could never have stated his convictions, presented from a prepared text and in full uniform to an audience, including senior government officials, at the height of Nazi Germany. Neither would the Nazis then grant Ms. Haneen Zoabi, the Palestinian political leader in the Knesset, the time of day to freely speak his mind. The far right authoritarian nationalism in present-day Israel might be measurably more accommodating than the far right radical authoritarian nationalism or Fascism in Nazi Germany. For too long it has been considered politically obtuse and socially uncouth– insensitive and cruel – for advocates of Palestinian rights to compare Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and 1967, the massacres and other war crimes, the massive violations of human rights, etc. – to the actions of Nazi Germany. But often it helps to open wounds to drain the ‘bad’ blood.

 

What Matters Most …

 

In his own words, Knesset member, Ms. Haneen Zoabi, reportedly the most militant spokesperson for Palestinian rights in the Knesset, boosts the preponderant precepts – what matters most – urged by General Golan:

 

How can you teach the lessons of the Holocaust when you don’t discern the frightening similarity between what is happening today all around us, and what happened in Germany in the 1930s?

 

The Holocaust obligates us not to be silent when racist laws are legislated, not to be silent when natives are exiled, not to be silent when their land and property is stolen, not to be silent when entire neighborhoods and entire families are bombed and wiped off the face of the earth, and not to be silent when political activists are put in administrative detention. …

 

Out of respect for the Holocaust, its victims and its lessons, I appeal to you and beg you to deal critically with the Israeli usage, which exploits and minimizes the Holocaust; to educate Israelis to critical thinking and moral awareness; and to open their eyes to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

 

Breaking the Ice with Oil and Vinegar …

 

Despite the exhortations officially delivered by General Yair Golan and by Ms. Haneen Zoabi, I can’t help but feel that I’m walking on thin ice with a sword above my head hanging on a thin thread. Breaking the ice between the Germans and the Israelis is like mixing oil and vinegar. When combined they add zest to a tossed green salad to make it come alive. I am writing you as I have written President JunckerPresident Obama,Prime Minister NetanyahuPresident AbbasPresident Carter and His Holiness Pope Francis with intent to soon write all world leaders in the European Union and in the world at large to seek a joint cooperative effort to, once and for all, forge a real and sustainable solution – not a band aid – to empower the Israelis and the Palestinians to be living apart together.

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains relentless in his warmongering: “The will to destroy the Jewish people has not changed. What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves and our determination to do so,” almost verbatim from Hitler’s playbook: “The will to destroy the German people has not changed (referring to Poland, Great Britain, France and most of Europe, which he later attacked, conquered, occupied and/or decimated).” Hitler emphasized: “What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves and our determination to do so.”

 

Such saber rattling makes good copy and news headlines. It also inculcates fear, anxiety and terror bringing back old memories, striking and mobilizing man’s worst instincts. And yes, it yields votes. Even my neighbor who has lived his first 42 years in Israel and now, for the last 27 years, operating a lucrative business in the Diaspora and claiming to vote Likud says: “Don’t you realize, they’re out to get us … most of them, more than 80 percent want us out … I don’t trust any Arab, I don’t trust Europe, we (Israelis) just have to be stronger and smarter … ”

 

“But Israel has lost the war”, I retort, to which he responds offended, “we have won every battle”.

 

“Yes,” I say, but we’ve lost the war … you hear what I say, lost it, finito… it’s over. We lost the war in the International Court of Public Opinion and worse, we’ve lost the war against ourselves …”

 

As we both cycle up a sweat in our neighborhood gym, I remind him to keep his promise to read ‘An Ethical Tradition Betrayed: The End of Judaism,’ authored by Holocaust survivor, Dr. Hajo Meyer. Dr. Meyer has often said: “[Revised} Zionism is to modern enlightened Judaism what Nazism was to Germany’s traditional values… that [Revised} Zionism is seeking to dehumanize the Palestinians in the same way the Nazis sought to dehumanize me in the Auschwitz concentration camp.” My late mother often said: “We were more human in camp … we cared for each other … our lives were falling apart yet we fell into each other during moments of greatest suffering…“

 

“More Human in Camp…”

 

Dr. Merkel, revulsion of Nazi crimes has led many Germans to engage in the struggle to build a better and moral world, not just faster and more comfortable cars, in which there is little room to spare for bigotry and intolerance. Yet, in Israel, the hailstorm “of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime,” says Mr. Uri Avnery. He continues: “Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. The call ‘Death to the Arabs,’ reminiscent of ‘Judah verrecke,’ is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospitals. A chief rabbi has declared that goyim (non-Jews) are created by God to serve the Jews. Our ministers of education and culture are busy subduing the schools, theatre and arts to the extreme rightist line, in German, ‘Gleichschaltung.’ The minister of justice is relentlessly attacking the Supreme Court, the pride of Israel. Gaza is a ghetto;” and many Israelis are still entranced and enraptured to the Revised Zionism ideology; but, for how long?

 

The American Folk Song: “If I Have a Hammer … “

 

Some pick up their hammers to shatter glass, to harm, injure and destroy. Others work their hammers to forge steel, to shape something that lasts. “Israel is far from a monolithic society,” says Mr. Uri Avnery. “At present we have a government of the extreme right, but there is also a peace camp. There are soldiers who refuse to remove settlements, but there are also soldiers who refuse to guard settlements. Quite a number of [Israeli] people devote their time and energy to the struggle against the occupation, sometimes exposing them to physical danger in the process.”

 

Against this backdrop, Mr. Avnery continues: “the Netanyahu government has paid lip service to the two-state principle and is violating it every day. It has rejected a full freeze on settlement activity in the territories the very territories, which all governments, including the German government, agree should become the state of Palestine. It is building at a frenzied pace in East Jerusalem, which even according to Germany, must become the capital of Palestine. It is carrying out in Jerusalem something, which comes very close to ethnic cleansing.”

 

“Such Israeli attitudes make a mockery of the claims of American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, that Israel is built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism… And we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance.’ In January 2016 the Israeli Knesset rejected a bill that would have secured in law equality for all the country’s citizens,” says Professor of history, Mr. Lawrence Davidson, in his article ‘Zionism Begins to Unravel’.

 

The Netanyahu and Lieberman Song and Dance Act…

 

And the beat goes on. The Netanyahu and Lieberman song and dance act on the Zionist merry-go-around has started a few days before the Paris Peace Talks, complete with roller coasting crescendos, commencing with one roll with the punch, followed up with another; dodging what really matters with empty words, carefully orchestrated and choreographed but without substance and real promise.

 

The Prime Minister Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu:

 

“I take this opportunity to make clear that I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002  but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples. To this end, we welcome the recent speech by Egyptian President el-Sisi and his offer to help advance peace and security in the region.”

 

Let the ‘Dance’ Begin…

 

According to a June 4rth Israeli Times article: “The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who did fly to Paris, used the event to stress that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API) is ‘still on the table,’ and said it was the best way to reach a solution to the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict.”

 

“‘The initiative has all the elements needed for a final resolution,’ al-Jubeir told reporters, adding that it could not be ‘diluted’ and that he hoped ‘Israel will wise-up’ to the opportunity it constitutes.”

 

Responding to a question in Arabic, al-Jubeir said that the API, first drafted by Riyadh in 2002 and subsequently backed by the Arab League, ‘has not been and would not be amended.’

 

Israel has raised objections to elements of the initiative.

 

“ ‘The Arab Peace Initiative does not need changing or adjusting, it is on the table as is,’ al-Jubeir said, repeating that the essence of the plan is Israel’s return to the ‘1967 lines and the establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.’”

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s accentuated two days earlier that “the return to the 1967 borders and Israel’s interests in Jerusalem are non-negotiable.”

 

Recently appointed Minister of Defense, Mr. Avignor Lieberman:

 

“I listened to everything you (Mr. Netanyahu) said and I absolutely agree with every word, including two states for two peoples. There was a lot of speculation about what the policy of the government would be.

 

I want to remind people that for many years Yisrael Beytenu decided, and I spoke more than once about recognizing, that same solution of two states for two peoples. I also believe that I was very supportive of the Bar Ilan speech.

 

I think that President al-Sisi’s speech was very important and has created a genuine opportunity. We must try to pick up the gauntlet. I absolutely agree that the Arab [Peace] Initiative also has some very, very positive elements that enable a serious dialogue with all our neighbors in the region.”

 

Of Course, There is a Santa Claus…

 

Dr. Aaron Lerner, publisher of the far right Independent Media Review and Analysis, snickers at the Netanyahu and Lieberman performance, stating: “While PM Netanyahu’s remarks about 2-state solution could very well be as sincere as what he might say about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to a visiting VIP’s kids, Avignor Lieberman has been talking for years about a Palestinian state with borders even more indefensible than those before ’67.”

 

“My Community…”

 

Who is Mr. Avignor Lieberman and what does his party, Yisrael Beytenu stand for? Journalist Mr. Larry Derfner, terminated by The Jerusalem Post, reports: “Lieberman has a thoroughly deserved international reputation as an Arab-hating, war-loving, neo-fascist”. Mr. Lieberman formed Yisrael Beytenu to create a platform for Russian immigrants who support a hard line in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Yisrael Beytenu describes itself as ‘a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the brave path of Russian bornZe’ev Jabotinsky’.

 

Mr. Jabotinsky is considered the founding father of the Haganah, now the Israeli army. ‘Revisionist Zionism’ is his brainchild, the principles of which are expounded in his 1923 published book, ‘The Iron Wall: We and the Arabs’, which he could just as well have entitled ‘My Community’; auf Deutsch, ‘Mein Kampf’. In short, Zionism is about lebensraum: attacking, invading, expelling and displacing the indigenous people from their lands and keeping their possessions as confiscated spoils of war. It is an either-or proposition, them or us, by force or not at all, excerpted as follows (contributed by Mr. Alan Hart, author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews):

 

There can be no voluntary reconciliation between the Arabs, not now and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority.

 

Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be the complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.

 

They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of colonization and conquest is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.

 

It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.

 

Even an agreement with non-Palestinians (other Arabs) represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.

 

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force, which comprises an Iron Wall, which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.

 

Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country conditions of rule and defense through which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.

 

If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for that land, or find some rich man or benefactor who will provide a garrison on your behalf. Or else? Or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force, which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible – not difficult, not dangerous but IMPOSSIBLE!

 

Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization.

 

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer -absolutely untrue. This is our ethic [their Mein Kampf}. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this [the Palestinians] is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall. 

 

No Happy Ending! Ask Nazi Germany…

 

In a few words: create an exclusive community (kampf), a Jewish nation, by deploying brute force without considering the consequences of the other by unconscionably dispossessing ‘them’ from the land with no hope to ever return with neither compromise, concession or conciliation; them or us; the end justifies the means. Dr. Merkel, this perversion and aberration, this depraved, distorted and deviant ideology, not the Zionism of my father and mother, can never have a happy ending. Ask Nazi Germany!

 

The Israeli-Palestinian saga needs a twist; a paradigm shift with new metaphors, uplifting stories with more openness, questioning the legitimacy and authority of deeply rooted dogmas. These are tools that enable us to succeed going from darkness – the terrible realities we face – to the amazing possibilities of tomorrow. We must start by rejecting the narratives we are told, to tell our own stories, becoming the storyteller rather than the person who is told what to do (Ms. Rebecca Solnit).

 

The Better Angels of Our Nature…

 

What if a growing number of Israelis respond to the higher calling of becoming a ‘light among nations’ (which President Abraham Lincoln refers to ‘seeking the better angels of our nature} and act accordingly as responsible citizens in the community of men and women, especially among those they have hurt so much? They will want nothing more than a full reconciliation with their Palestinian neighbors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Israelis will publicly apologize: “We recognize we can’t get away getting something for nothing … we realize we can’t get away with murder … let’s tear down the walls between us, share the land, and break bread together … and here is cash, earnest money, a compensatory resolve to seal the deal (precisely how Germany recompensed Jews and other victims following World War II)?”

 

General Golan may have prophetically concluded his speech with:

 

“On Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we remember the six million of our people who were slaughtered in Europe, it is incumbent upon us to remember the 6.5 million, those living now, and to ask ourselves what is the purpose of our return to our land, what is appropriate to sanctify and what is not, what is proper to praise and what is not.

 

Most of all, we should ask how it is that we are to realize our purpose as a light unto the nations and a model society.

 

Only this kind of remembrance can serve as a living and breathing monument for our people – a worthy monument, a monument of truth.

 

May we know how to live a worthy life, for the sake of the memory of the victims and for the sake of generations yet to come? And may we be grateful for all the good that we have been blessed with, and may we be blessed with guarding it.

 

We will fight to the end if we must, against any enemy, protecting our right to build and our duty to do what’s right.”

 

When is Enough, ENOUGH?

 

In the greater scheme of things, Israel with all its might is but a spec of dirt, not worthy to ignite another World War, contrary to populist fears. This Israeli house of cards, built on ideas envisaged during post-revolutionary Russia that also trickled into the ideological mind set of post World War I Germany, can and will eventually collapse, from within and from without. According to Iranian propaganda, it doesn’t take much to obliterate Israel. Countries in the Region that are presently at each other’s throats could fuel a pact to subdue Israel, the nemesis common to all. They’re getting close to reaching the point of ‘enough is enough’, the point of no return. Enemies who are enemies against a common enemy could become, geopolitically, comrades in arms.

 

I want Israel to survive; I want Palestine to be Palestine. Neither can exist without the other. Both must reconcile with each other.  Neither can get away with murder nor can either get something for nothing. Both are presently on the path of self-destruction. “Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable,” says Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry. I cannot be more long-winded and as persuasive. Their only choice: build the bridge and come together.

 

Believe me, I’d rather be sailing or snorkeling or just having a good time, sipping coffee with friends, sitting in one café while getting ready to rush to the next; my core business, since I retired. Life is to enjoy. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threw a monkey wrench into my priorities. And I told him so: “I hold you personally responsible for jolting me out of my retirement. You’re to blame. I was in the region when Israel went on a killing spree last summer. My reaction: ‘Not again? … NEVER AGAIN!’ And so …” I made it clear to the Prime Minister that I will confront him with the Means, Methods and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains, destined to become the biggest letter writing campaign in the history of mankind for “people everywhere … to ‘Say YES’, yes to having Europe (NATO) and the United States [and now together with the Arab League] hold you and the Palestinians by the hand to once and for all settle the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle to Reach Peaceful Coexistence.”

 

Taking Off at Full Throttle…

 

And so Madam Chancellor, I propose that we take off at full throttle? To eventually soar through the clouds, you will need all the torque you can get, maximum thrust to overcome resistance. That’s what it’s going to take to secure real and sustainable peace. In the past, those in command of the peace talks dare not take off at full throttle. The results: one deadlock after the other. Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Madrid, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna (and now Paris) have succeeded in producing stalemates often ending in standoffs with one foot in the stirrup, the other in the sand.

 

In all respect to His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulazis Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and the eminent representatives of the Arab League, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API) though ‘still on the table’ is not enough. Before we could even thunder Dr. Henry Kissinger’s “Peace is at hand,” (prematurely heralded before the United States capitulated to North Vietnam), the people of Israel must change the winds of war from within, with neither help nor hindrance from the European Union other than imparting upon the leaders of Revised Zionism that we shall reject any further disinformation from an Israeli propaganda machinery so intense that even Dr. Goebbels could have been its best student.

 

Smoke and Mirrors…

 

In Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Mr. Alan Hart reveals a startling reality: “Almost everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about the making and sustaining of conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel is not true.”

 

It’s not true that all the Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 left their homeland voluntarily. Most were driven out by [Revised] Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

 

It’s not true that Israel has lived in constant danger of annihilation, the ‘driving into the sea’ of its Jews. Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger.

 

And it’s not true that Israel never had Arab partners for peace. It’s [Revised] Zionism that has never been interested in peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept.”

 

Mr. Alan Hart has devoted more than five years of his life to researching and writing his book – to empower citizens to play their necessary part in stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all.

 

A Union of Former Countries at War…

 

From my ivory tower, I’ve made some bold proposals, many say impossible to achieve. The leadership in the region often acts like children. Europe can take them out of the sandbox (quagmire), if the majority of the people in the region authorize Europe to help both sides to converge toward a workable solution. Neither side can work out a fair and equitable settlement without Europe as mediator, the wealthiest region, the largest economy and the most powerful union the world has ever seen, of former countries at war.

The Proposed EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative…

 

To be clear, we Europeans may only propose, not impose. What matters most is what the people in the Region want. I’d like to shake the European leadership loose to take on their responsibility to help resolve a conflict we have created in the first place. To start, I want Europe to apologize to the people of Israel and to the people of Palestine. Being ‘more’ European than most Europeans (Born British and Dutch), let me be among the first to say: “I am sorry what we’ve done to the Jews; I am sorry what we’ve done to the Palestinians.” I speak volumes, in silence.

 

Second, I propose that Europe measures the State of Palestine and the State of Israel according to one standard with fairness and equitability. One is not more or less than the other.

 

Third, I propose that Europe recognizes Israel and Palestine and treats both equally as de-facto NATO ‘affiliates’ so that neither may ever attack, invade, and occupy the other. Frankly, in practice, Israel already embraces de-facto NATO status. Iran will never officially attack Israel, despite the rhetoric and spin and fears perpetrated by and from all sides. Iran fears NATO, not Israel. Israel fears only Palestine, paradoxically two potential partners to carve out a better future for generations to come for all.

 

Fourth, I propose borderless boundaries or virtual borders, to facilitate freedom of movement and the right of passage for EVERYONE. Yes, with a Benelux-type structure one may freely cross the many divides in the region. Citizens of one country may freely work, travel and live in the other – i.e., Jewish settlements sited in Palestine –, but remain citizens in their own states. So, Israel remains Israel. Palestine remains Palestine. Jerusalem remains Jerusalem but everyone in the region may live and work where they please but vote only in his or her own country. This is nothing new. Is Europe a single federation or a union of individual nations? Both! Am I proposing a one-state solution or a two-state solution? Depending on the eye of the beholder, it could be either or both (see Petition ‘Living Apart Together’).

 

Fifth, I propose that the warring parties compensate the other for losses incurred because no one can get something for nothing. Invoke Europe to finance a EU-type Marshall Plan and lend the money to Israel to compensate the Palestinians. Europe could replicate the same playbook used by the United States. Because the US Treasury was under severe financial constraint immediately after World War II, the United States managed to monetize the Marshall Plan with a computer entry, now referred to as Quantitative Easing. The newly ‘printed money’ roused Europe with ‘hard currency’ without causing a Weimar-type hyperinflation. Similarly, Europe can help flush the Region of Israel and Palestine with cash for micro and macro development. Europe will especially benefit as the exclusive purveyor of all goods, products and services; supplier of all materials. That’s how Europe rescued the United States out of its economic slump that started in the mid 1920’s. Since the late 1940’s through the 1950’s we Europeans bought just about everything from the Americans, rebooting its manufacturing base and the humming of their plants. And today, we’re still the largest investors in the United States.

 

Sixth, I want justice because no one can get away with murder. Should we hang Netanyahu like Sadam? After all what Sadam did to the Kurds, Netanyahu did to the Palestinians.

 

Seventh, I could live with and would prefer an Act of Reconciliation similar to the one in South Africa under the tenets ‘live, let live’ rather than ‘kill, get killed’; and, ‘forgive in order to forget’, a fundamental economic principle, and a precious lesson in life.

 

Eighth, I propose that the people in the Region vote to temporarily (perhaps for five years) demilitarize the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian Defense Forces (PDF) as a condition to enable Europe to guarantee security for all Israelis and all Palestinians with heavily equipped NATO troops wearing white helmets, costs to be proportionately defrayed among the Israelis and Palestinians derived from new-found revenues as a result of the new capital infused by Europe in the Region. From the beginning, the IDF have been a destabilizing factor. Their aims, often portrayed as Divinely inspired, depicted with the best of intentions, have turned out to be counterproductive for the greater good of the Region and the world.

 

No Room for Superfluities…

 

What I’ve just outlined above is a takeoff at full throttle, with no room for superfluities. At the end of the runway, there’s no turning back. And once you’ve reached optimal altitude, you’ve got to keep yourself in balance. Make sure you can foresee and forestall inevitable turbulence.

 

Through you, Madam Chancellor, I would like to invoke the people of Germany to help Israel. Germany can help forewarn Israel what NOT to do, that enough is enough and that the tragedy of Auschwitz should remain for time in ad infinitum in a permanent state of NEVER AGAIN. Every single German friend of mine, without exception, will always preface any conversation concerning the Israeli-Palestinian Quest to Peacefully Co-exist with: “We Germans may not discuss this matter (publicly) because if we say anything for or against the Israelis we might be labeled anti-Semitic and no German may give the impression of anti-Semitism.”

 

But Mr. Avnery insists: “… Germans know that our present policy is disastrous for Israel and the entire world. It leads towards permanent war, the empowering of radical fundamentalist Islam throughout the region, the isolation of Israel in the world and an occupation-state in which the Jews will become an oppressing minority.”

 

Germans, especially those in my generation, really don’t want to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Predicament. But if pressed, and it’s not easy, just about all of my German friends will gradually release their inner thoughts on the subject, carefully and methodically, typical of the Teutonic mind. Every German I know confide how happy they are for the Jews to be now living in their own, proclaimed homeland.

 

My friends in Germany tend to be  ‘pro-Israeli’ and ‘pro-Palestinian’ in the sense that they believe Israel has a right to co-exist with Palestine and both are obligated to find ways to peacefully co-exist without any German intervention. But, of course, my conversations reach a climax when I try to get my German friends to give me their understanding and opinions of the Israeli modus operandi: the Israeli pretext of defending themselves against a defenseless people whom the Israelis subject to a systematic series of blitzkriegs complete with lethal military invasions, confiscation of personal properties, displacement and dispossession at gunpoint causing the indigenous people to flee their homes and to live a life, many for life, as refugees, behind fortified walls in bondage, poverty and servitude.

 

Initially, the Teutonic mind idles in neutral and responds objectively and analytically. From them I hear: “It takes two to tango. The Palestinians have caused lots of problems, too. Both people are equally stubborn.” But after a few beers too many the threshold of truth becomes more fluid. This is when every one of my German friends shows their true colors, vehemently expressing antifascism.

 

Every single German I know is opposed to fascism: radical far right authoritarian nationalism. Few dare say out loud (other than in closed quarters) that what the Israelis have done since 1948 bring back memories of conversations with parents or grandparents describing the days leading toward Nazi dominion. Over time, my friends in Germany have taught me as much about the dark side of Nazi Germany as the darkness in Israel. This, Dr. Merkel, is the warning. Their warnings stemming from their collective experiences and guilt could be Germany’s contribution to effectuating positive results in the Region.

 

So in the coming months, I’ll continue to pound on the EU leadership to step up to the plate, to challenge the Israelis and the Palestinians to converge toward a series of catalytic possibilities. Ultimately it’s their choice. The alternative can only result in more cataclysmic calamities.  Madam Chancellor, Israel can and will win its war precisely how Germany has won its war: by freeing itself from the chains of Fascism. Sooner than later the people of Israel and the people of Palestine can and will be Living Apart Together, inside one Home Land within two borderless states, their only option.

 

Change, not Chains Must Be the Goal…

 

Change, not chains, is inescapably inevitable. It can happen in one generation. After 1945, it took one generation for Europeans to finally welcome Jews into the world community. I have seen first hand the miracle of China. In the mid ‘70s there were hardly any cars in Peking. In one generation China has leapfrogged into the 21st Century with characteristic gridlock on the many thoroughfares in present day Beijing. In the United States, one generation struggled and won to humanize civil rights for everyone, expanding the socio-economic landscape of America.

 

Let’s start fresh and anew. All the King’s men can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. To paraphrase President Barack H. Obama, “if a policy hasn’t worked for 66 years, isn’t it time to change?” Europe, as demonstrable in the accords with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulazis Al Saud and in conjunction with the full strength of the Arab League, is now ready and motivated to combine resources in helping to end a conflict it has started (‘A European Agenda to the World’s Stage’).

 

A Redeemed Europe…

 

Europe must rebuild the many bridges it has previously burned throughout the Middle east to regain credibility. By treating Israel and Palestine equally with fairness and equitability, Europe can and will shine and stand out in all the nations as a serious partner to diplomatically and democratically help resolve cultural differences, one step at a time. Containing the fires between the Israelis and the Palestinians cannot be more opportune. A ‘redeemed’ Europe can work out solutions with former adversaries to help restore order and to keep prospective refugees earning an honest living and remaining with family on their own turf at home.

 

The timing for Europe cannot be more opportune to combine resources with Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, together with the United States and in concert with the United Nations and the World Community. We need stability in the Region. If peace is possible there, it is possible everywhere.

 

Will you join others and me in echoing the cry: Mr. Netanyahu, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” and in your kindness, Mr. Netanyahu, “Tear down those walls.”

 

With every good wish to you, Dr. Merkel, I remain,

 

 

Respectfully yours,

Abraham A. van Kempen

**************************

Open letter to His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud: ‘To Do That Which Has the Most Chance of Being Good for All Concerned’

July 13, 2016The Hague, The NetherlandsCustodian of the Two Holy MosquesHis Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

Royal Court: 11-488-2222

Riyadh

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Open letter from Abraham A. van Kempen to His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia

Your Majesty,

 

Greetings, dear King Salman bin Abdulaziz in the Name of All Who is Merciful, Gracious and Good; the God of Abraham, the God of all Muslims, Christians and Jews; the God of Adam and Eve, the God of all mankind; the God of all believers and unbelievers; the God of those who are lost in their ways. Your Majesty, can you, will you help create safe and imaginative spaces for grappling with the hard questions of our times? Can you, will you help mediate to help bring the many voices of all sides into constructive conversations with each other, especially conversations among unlike-minded and perhaps even unlikely people? I have posed these same two questions to His Holiness Pope Francis.

 

Your proposed Arab Peace Initiative is like manna from Heaven, a noble pursuit with give and take toward reconciliation among believers in the one God. If Israel returns to the pre-1967 borders and if Israel fosters the return of the several million Palestinian refugees (including their children, grand children and great-grand children) to freely move, live and work inside the Israeli/Palestinian homeland, how could the Israelis and Palestinians be assured that the road towards peace would even become more peaceful? For so long, lights and shadows with moments of grief characterize the relationship among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Can we become one in the Spirit, to do that which has the most chance of being good for all concerned?

 

The Jew honors the Almighty as protector of the human person and as the God promulgating the promises of life. The Christian knows that God is love and expects mankind, created in His image, to manifest agape love. For the Muslim, God is good. He grants the believers His abundant mercy. Inspired by these convictions, Jews, Christians and Muslims reject the supposition that hatred threatens the earth; that endless wars continue to plague humanity; that mankind will destroy itself.

 

And yet, peace between our people remains a bridge too far unless we commit to building a bridge based on mutual trust. In all due respect to you, Your Majesty, and the esteemed leaders of the Arab League, the Arab Peace Initiative can take off only with maximum torque, at full throttle. The people of the Region must first overcome their fear (manifested as hatred) of the other. They are traumatized. Each and every day many relive and replay their traumas, which often are worse than their original nightmares.

 

Your Majesty, though I cannot fathom the feeling of anxiety inside their souls, I can empathize. Both my parents are products of War. My mother who is so kind, compassionate and loving could turn into a terror when she re-experiences a trauma of her past. The fears and anxiety creep into her being. She then transfers that ‘evil’ onto another person and makes herself and others believe that the evil she senses is in the other and has become the other; and, the other is to be feared and distrusted anddismissed as non-existent. My father who is by nature kind and open hearted has similar bouts of anxieties. At age 20 he served as Prisoner of War. Worse, he tries to forget the memory of my grandfather who was hauled from his office and dragged behind a truck to brutally and prematurely, on the open road, meet the face of God. Their traumas are passed on to the second generation. My brothers and sister, in different degrees, and so many other people everywhere, not just Jews and Palestinians, could benefit from a process of consciousness transformation to help spark their conscience to consider as first choice the ‘love of God’ rather than only ‘His wrath’.

 

Many work their hammer to forge steel, to shape something that lasts. Others pick up their hammer to shatter glass, to harm, injure and destroy. We are all challenged to choose either of these two options, day in and day out. Consciousness transformation, says Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of ‘Embracing Israel/Palestine’, “is about empowering our most loving, kind, and generous instincts, honoring the spiritual wisdom of our traditions (both religious and secular) that teach us that every human being on the planet is equally precious and deserving of well being and fulfillment. It is also about building political and economic arrangements that facilitate rather than undermine our capacity to care for each other across all religious, national and ethnic lines.”

 

During the long history of propaganda battles between Zionists and Palestinians, each community has perpetrated pain and suffering against the other. Rabbi Lerner continues: “both sides have made and continue to make terrible mistakes. Yet the choices of both sides are also understandable, given their perceptions of their own and the other’s situation. As long as each community clings to its own story, unable to acknowledge what is plausible in the story of the other side, peace will remain a distant hope.” Repeatedly rehearsing and nursing their hurts reflect the history and hysteria of their individual and collective traumas.

 

The first task is to heal the traumas and to commit to understanding each other. Jews did not return to their ancient homeland to oppress the Palestinian people. They fled from centuries of European oppression that culminated during the Holocaust. Palestinians did not resist the creation of a Jewish state out of hatred of the Jews. They feared European colonial expansion and presumed European Jews to be European colonists. Since then it went from bad to worse. The task is no longer a question of ‘who is right’ but to focus on building a path that will be best served for all, a path that embraces love, kindness, and a generosity of spirit. Can and will the Israelis and Palestinians destroy their enemy by becoming friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship?

 

Israelis and Palestinians must reclaim their guiding principles and fundamental beliefs derived from the Sacred Texts: “love your neighbor,” “love the stranger,” or “justice, justice shalt thou pursue”. Israel/Palestine is after all the Holy Land. The essence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam insists upon its adherents to trust their moral compass, synchronized with courage and imagination to envisage full acceptance of Israelis and Palestinians; Jews, Christians and Muslims (and not just in Israel/Palestine).

 

What if a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians respond to the higher calling of becoming a ‘light among nations’ (which President Abraham Lincoln refers to ‘seeking the better angels of our nature’) and act accordingly as responsible citizens in the community of men and women, especially among those they have hurt so much? They will want nothing more than a full reconciliation with their neighbors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both people will publicly apologize: “We recognize we can’t get away getting something for nothing … we realize we can’t get away with murder … let’s tear down the walls between us, share the land, and break bread together … and here is cash, earnest money, a compensatory resolve to seal the deal (precisely how Germany recompensed Jews and other victims following World War II)?”

 

As I have stated in my letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Any peace accord, minus full reconciliation, will inevitably collapse”. Your Majesty, without incorporating the proposed ‘EU Complement’ to your Arab Peace Initiative, the wounds will only be temporarily soothed, letting the disease to stealthily spread and eventually erupt and explode again. In deference to the long-standing resolutions declared by the United Nations, the European Union could join you to help building a bridge between the Israelis and the Palestinians together with the Arab League representing the greater region.

 

The European Compliment to the Arab Peace Initiative…

 

To be clear, we Europeans may only propose, not impose. What matters most is what the people in the Region want. So in the coming months, I’ll continue to pound on the EU leadership to step up to the plate, to challenge the Israelis and the Palestinians to converge toward a series of catalytic possibilities. The alternative can only result in more cataclysmic calamities.  Sooner than later the people of Israel/ Palestine can and will be Living Apart Together, inside one Home Land within two borderless states, their only option.

 

Join others and me, Your Majesty, to shake the European leadership loose to take on their responsibility to help resolve a conflict we, Europeans, have created in the first place. To start, I want Europe to apologize to the people of Israel and to the people of Palestine. Being ‘more’ European than most, a dual national of the United Kingdom and of The Netherlands, born in the Middle East  (on the SS Atlantis, British Ship, Red Sea), let me be among the first to say: “I am sorry what we’ve done to the Jews; I am sorry what we’ve done to the Palestinians.” I speak volumes, in silence.

 

Second, I propose that Europe measures the State of Palestine and the State of Israel according to one standard with fairness and equitability. One is not more or less than the other.

 

Third, I propose that Europe recognizes Israel and Palestine and treats both equally as de-facto NATO ‘affiliates’ so that neither may ever attack, invade, and occupy the other. Frankly, in practice, Israel already embraces de-facto NATO status. Iran will never officially attack Israel, despite the rhetoric and spin and fears perpetrated by and from all sides. Iran fears NATO, not Israel. Israel fears only Palestine, paradoxically two potential partners to carve out a better future for generations to come for all.

 

Fourth, I propose borderless boundaries or virtual borders, to facilitate freedom of movement and the right of passage for EVERYONE. Yes, with a Benelux-type structure one may freely cross the many divides in the region. Citizens of one country may freely work, travel and live in the other – i.e., Jewish settlements sited in Palestine –, but remain citizens in their own states. So, Israel remains Israel. Palestine remains Palestine. Jerusalem remains Jerusalem but everyone in the region may live and work where they please but vote only in his or her own country. This is nothing new. Is Europe a single federation or a union of individual nations? Both! Am I proposing a one-state solution or a two-state solution? Depending on the eye of the beholder, it could be either or both (see Petition ‘Living Apart Together’).

 

Fifth, I propose that the warring parties compensate the other for losses incurred because no one can get something for nothing. Invoke Europe to finance a EU-type Marshall Plan and lend the money to Israel and Palestine to compensate the other, proportionate to the degrees of harm done. Europe could replicate the same playbook used by the United States. Because the United States Treasury was under severe financial constraint immediately after World War II, the United States managed to monetize the Marshall Plan with a computer entry, now referred to as Quantitative Easing. The newly ‘printed money’ roused Europe with ‘hard currency’ without causing a Weimar-type hyperinflation. Similarly, Europe can help flush the Region of Israel and Palestine with cash for micro and macro development. Europe will especially benefit as the exclusive purveyor of all goods, products and services; supplier of all materials. That’s how Europe rescued the United States out of its economic slump that started in the mid 1920’s. Since the late 1940’s through the 1950’s we Europeans bought just about everything from the Americans, rebooting its manufacturing base and the humming of their plants. And today, we’re still the largest investors in the United States.

 

Sixth, I want justice because no one can get away with murder. Should we hang Netanyahu like Sadam? After all what Sadam did to the Kurds, Netanyahu did to the Palestinians.

 

Seventh, I could live with and would prefer an Act of Reconciliation similar to the one in South Africa under the tenets ‘live, let live’ rather than ‘kill, get killed’; and, ‘forgive in order to forget’, a fundamental economic principle, and a precious lesson in life.

 

Eighth, I propose that the people in the Region vote to temporarily (perhaps for five years) demilitarize the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian Defense Forces (PDF) as a condition to enable Europe to guarantee security for all Israelis and all Palestinians with heavily equipped NATO troops wearing white helmets, costs to be proportionately defrayed among the Israelis and Palestinians derived from new-found revenues as a result of the new capital infused by Europe in the Region. From the beginning, the IDF have been a destabilizing factor. Their aims, often portrayed as Divinely inspired, depicted with the best of intentions, have turned out to be counterproductive for the greater good of the Region and the world.

 

No Room for Superfluities…

 

What I’ve just outlined above is a takeoff at full throttle, with no room for superfluities. At the end of the runway, there’s no turning back. And once you’ve reached optimal altitude, you’ve got to keep yourself in balance. Make sure you can foresee and forestall inevitable turbulence.

 

But first comes first. The Arab League together with the European Union must invest an estimated EU 100 million to finance the work of thousands of Peace Corp Professionals to help the people of Israel/Palestine to believe in their own self-esteem as well as the worthiness and goodness of the other. Thereafter, the people of Israel/Palestine must reason first within their own respective communities and then externally with the other to create the critical paths toward consummating peace. Then they can live and prosper together in peace.

 

Change, not chains, is inescapably inevitable. It can happen in one generation. After 1945, it took one generation for Europeans to finally welcome Jews into the world community (though at the expense of the Arabs in Palestine). I have seen first hand the miracle of China. In the mid ‘70s there were hardly any cars in Peking. In one generation China has leapfrogged into the 21st Century with characteristic gridlock on the many thoroughfares in present day Beijing. In the United States, one generation struggled and won to humanize civil rights, expanding the socio-economic landscape of America.

 

Let’s start fresh and anew. The timing is opportune. We need stability in the Region. If peace is possible there, it is possible everywhere. And now Your Majesty, a blessing to you: May the Most On High bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you! And may Allah, with all His mercies, give you His peace in your going out and in your coming in, in your lying down and in your rising up, in your labor and in your leisure, in your laughter and in your tears… Until you come to stand before Him on that day in which there is no sunset and no dawning. (Adapted from the late Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Founder Crystal Cathedral Ministries, Garden Grove, CA)

 

With every good wish to you, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, I remain,

 

 

Sincerely

Abraham A. van Kempen

***********************

Lost and forgotten: Palestinians and the Unsustainable Refugee Crisis

July 20, 2016By:          Anant Mishra and Aayush MohantyAnant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to the United Nations. He has served extensively in United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council along with the Economic and Social Council. He is also a visiting faculty for numerous universities and delivers lectures on political economics and foreign policies.

 

Aayush Mohanty is a post graduate student at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Conflict Analysis and Peace building at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, India.

 

Introduction

 

Over one and a half million are currently residing in the 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Those, relocated in the aforementioned refugee camps are living in and around the city and towns of neighbouring nations. These refugees live without any social or economic support, signifying the level of polarization of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since the First Arab-Israeli War of 1948, these Palestinians have become outcomes of marginalization and failed politics, religion, and conflicts of ideology in the Middle East.

 

The issue which began from a political conflict, soon became a militant one, displacing over 750,000 Palestinians in the first war of 1948 which continued till the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Decades later, the Arab-Israeli conflict escalated resulting in millions getting displaced. It is imperative for policy makers to resolve this conflict which specifically involves refugee situations and their extent of vulnerability.  Many international development agencies such as the United Nations (UN) have addressed key issues such as the rights of the refugees, eradication of poverty, followed by sanitation and health education in refugee camps, they have failed immensely on the political and humanitarian front. Policy leaders must address the grave issue of violation of rights of Palestinian refugees through open door diplomacy and innovation, including but not limited to inviting key government actors in resolving the conflict politically and identifying key challenges to Palestinian refugee situation in the Middle East.

United Nations role in Palestinian refugee crisis

 

Since, the failure of the Partition Plan, the “two state” solution is at a gridlock, especially amid Israeli aggression and Palestinians opposition to territorial separation. The General Assembly on 11 December,1948 adopted Resolution 194. This resolution declared two options for the refugees: return home and spend their lives in peace with Jews as their neighbours or receive compensation for their land for those who did not wish to return. Although, theoretically, this compensation was a good idea, the resolution failed to produce enough actions. The ineffective response from the world and failure to receive necessary coordination and cooperation from the member nations rendered ineffectiveness in addressing the Palestine refugees. This resolution also called for the immediate demilitarization and internationalization of Jerusalem along with the holy places of Palestine, and created a three-member UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine.

 

This commission was tasked to resolve three major crises: the size of territories, issue of growing refugees and the status of Jerusalem. The Commission did not receive the necessary success as Arab states did not cooperate, whereas Israel insisted on giving priority to the territorial question. Frequently cited as the documents of Palestinian rights, Resolution 194 outlined the rights of Palestinian refugees but lacked necessary seriousness on international legal and social authority of refugees.

 

The Partition Plan also included the formation of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This organization, since its formation, has been crucially assisting Palestinian refugees, making it the oldest UN agency working actively for the refugees. Operating from all major refugee camps, its mission is to “help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development under the difficult circumstance in which they live.” The agency has strict mandate, focussing on the development of refugees under political will and stresses the importance of cooperation and coordination for refugees. Since, the organization is not responsible for operating the refugee camps or maintain law, they actively work in the sector of education, health, relief, and infrastructure development in all of the major camps. The organization has largely proved effective, as 66% of more than three million Palestinian refugees continue to use their health and education services.

 

On 2 June 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the refugee crisis exists “because of political failure… [However] in the absence of a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA has become more than an agency, it is a lifeline. The organization began as a “short term solution” to address the issue of stability of refugees in their camps through peaceful meditation. As conflict intensified, the organization turned into one of the only, most active Palestinian refugee assistance organizations.

 

Undoubtedly, without this organization, refugees are not only prone to limited political rights, but also are more than likely to become victims of human rights violations and prisoners of war. As the organization continues to face economic hardship, the UNRWA’s main initiatives for the 2010-2015 were to work consistently with the host governments and expand their reach to more refugees, work towards poverty elimination, improved educational programs, and work towards bridging the gap of gender equality. Moreover, UNRWA was also tasked to interact with governments and create viable programs and initiatives. This coordination not only increased in better governance and administration of refugee camps, while effectively normalizing political conflict in the Middle East.

 

In September 1974, over 50 members proposed “the question of Palestine” to include in the General Assembly every year, as the refugee rights had not been discussed then. The Resolution was then adopted on 22nd November 1974, “the question of Palestine” continues to be an item for the General Assembly to discuss, resulting in the creation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This program conducts discussion sessions throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America, and the Caribbean. One of the most notable discussion was held in 2004 and 2005, as nations gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the repercussions of Israel’s construction of the separation wall around the occupied Palestinian territory on the West Bank.

 

This issue was brought again during the General Assembly session of 2012, when the General Assembly voted to make Palestine non-member observer. This gave the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court, along with 20 other international institutions. With these political powers, the importance of refugee crisis became clear and present danger even for the international communities, although many political barriers still remain undiscussed.

 

As UN focused on increasing humanitarian relief efforts, there were wide evidence pondered on the institutions ineffectiveness. The Human Rights Council have repeatedly called Israel to halt violations of human rights by military occupation of the West Bank. Ignoring these evidences, not long ago, Tel Aviv cited them as “one-sided”, the continuous marginalisation of Israel towards these refugees have crippled the working mechanism of the UNRWA making it ineffective.

 

Challenges faced by UNRWA

 

Currently, the UNRWA is suffering from severe economic crisis which has raised some key issues. Recently, UNRWA stated that the academic year 2015 will be delayed, risking the fate of over 700 refugee schools, while affecting more than half a million refugees in the Middle East. The delay was caused by financial deficit of over USD 101 million in the organizations education fund. With no scope of monetary assistance, UNRWA was forced to postpone their school year to 2 August 2015. This issue delayed the schools for over 4 months, as UNRWA looked for monetary assistance elsewhere. Ali Abu Diak, Secretary-General of Palestine Cabinet rejected this proposal, stating that education is not a “process” and needs to be seen as a right, which cannot be side-lined. He also stressed the need for education in refugee camps and the Palestinian Cabinet was supporting UNRWA under all conditions and encouraged member nations of the UN to do so. This example clearly states the need for financial assistance for UNRWA, it is imperative for member nations in the UN to find alternative solutions to effectively support existing humanitarian assistance programs.

 

It is important to understand that, political will and agenda are crucial for the implementation and success of programs by international development agencies. The UK based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) was officially granted a consultative status in the UN. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) approved it as the official adviser NGO. The NGO “specializes in the research, analysis, and monitoring of issues pertaining to the dispersed Palestinians and their internationally recognized legal right to return.” Previously, the recommendation was rejected by Israel, stating PRC as “close knit organization with Hamas”. After, many independent investigation, no evidence was found linking PRC to Hamas.

 

Political leaders must focus their attention to other actively working non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as PRC with respect to their expert analysis especially when there is acute financial crisis in the UNRWA. Additionally, the example also stated crucial involvement of political organizations and political leadership. Allegations of PRC’s direct involvement with Hamas couldn’t be proved, it did however, disrupted their programs and questioned its credibility. Political leaders need to ensure that statements and allegations, proven otherwise, are sensitive, hence without any direct involvement or interaction are not to be said.

 

Conclusion

 

It is important for us to address the Palestinian refugee crisis with a multidimensional approach, an absolute need for global cooperation and collective efforts from international development agencies worldwide. Overcrowded camps, understaffed and underfunded refugee assistance organizations, and human rights abuses are some of the major hindrances in the road of development for people who have been suffering discrimination for decades. It is imperative for policy makers to understand the concept of resolution 194 along with relevant UN documents like the UNRAW’s work in the area, their contributions and problems faced by them, in an effort to effectively address major issues in humanitarian assistance to therefugees. Moreover, the actions, steps and initiations of the UNRWA should be appreciated and commended by political leaders and they should further reinforce these efforts by participating in the key decision making. It is important for policy makers to effectively address the growing refugee situation, proper sanitation techniques, and elimination of poverty while keeping in mind the political indifferences and repercussions of over exhaustion of resources.

 

Stripped from their rights and forced to leave their homes, these refugees are both pawns and consequences of a conflict, which the political factions benefit from the most. Policy leaders must ensure their cooperation in peacebuilding, issues pertaining to land rights, and adequate representation from the government body, in an effort to minimise an already deteriorated situation. Looking at the religious, economic and political benefits for stakeholder nations and neighbouring economies, their active participation is crucial.

 

 

 
tags: Israel/Palestine   
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