What’s Next for Israel/Palestine? An Introduction

It has become increasingly clear to many people around the world and among many American Jews that the Israeli government has no intention of creating a politically and economically viable Palestinian state. On the eve of his reelection, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that no Palestinian state would emerge under his next five-year government.

Nonviolence, BDS, and the Dream of Beloved Community in Palestine/Israel

As a lifelong feminist practitioner of the Torah of nonviolence, I am drawn to respond to the question of what’s next in Israel/Palestine through the hermeneutics of nonviolence, which I believe is a fruitful way out of the one-state/two-state conundrum. The practice of nonviolence is a path toward the future. We learn from people on the front lines of systemic violence that “don’t speak about us without us” is a core principle of nonviolence solidarity, and so I begin with words from a poem titled “Running Orders” that Lena Khalaf Tuffaha wrote after the massacre of Gaza last summer.  
They call us now. Before they drop the bombs.

Closing Thoughts on “What’s Next for Israel/Palestine?”

King Solomon, reputed to be one of the wisest ancient kings, decided to create a ring for himself bearing a message that would always be true. The message he chose? “This too will pass.”

The conflict between Israel and Palestine will also pass. A new generation will arise that is no longer traumatized by the past and no longer believes that its interests are served by engaging in this struggle. We, sadly, live “in the meantime.”

And we have a huge responsibility to hasten the day when trauma will be replaced by mutual affirmation and reconciliation, or steps in that direction sufficient to make it possible for that new generation to grow up without the traumas of the past.

Israeli Elections Won’t End Oppression in Palestine/Israel

Counting on a “left-wing” election victory to produce change in Israeli policy is naïve. A quick review of history reveals that Labor governments not only have led most of Israel’s wars against its neighbors, but also spearheaded settlement expansion in the West Bank. Labor leaders, including David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres, have presided over countless massacres and war crimes. Moreover, Israeli society has been shifting to the far right, so much so that Ariel Sharon became a centrist figure and Tzipi Livni is now a left-wing leader. It is therefore critical to understand the core issues of the conflict in order to move forward in a productive way.

State­-Building Can Pave the Way to Statehood: Lessons from Kurdistan

How did the Palestinians’ odds for statehood and those of the Kurds get reversed in twenty years? The Kurds have spent several decades, especially the last, constructing the educational, economic, military, and political institutions for statehood. Most telling is the growth in women’s rights and the decline in family honor killings. Turning from killing women and Turks to building Kurdish autonomy, the Kurds are achieving growing international support for their bid for statehood. Similarly, the case for Palestinian statehood will not be made by bashing Israel, by arguing for the moral superiority of one’s narrative and one’s victimhood, or by asking what is good for Israel alone.

A New Horizon for Peace: An Israel-Palestine Union

In light of the total deadlock on the question of Palestine, a group of Israelis and Palestinians is developing an original vision of peace, which under the current circumstance is becoming more relevant than ever: “two states, one homeland.”

Following Netanyahu’s return to power, a sense of despair engulfed the peace camp in Israel, Palestine, and beyond. Indeed, the Likud Party’s policy of strongly supporting Jewish colonization of the West Bank and recent vicious Israeli attacks on Gaza make peace based on the two-state solution seem like a disappearing mirage. Deep divisions among the Palestinians and waves of Hamas-inspired violence against Israeli civilians further this impression. Moreover, even if a Palestinian state is miraculously established in the near future, it is likely to become a small “ghetto state” with severely limited sovereignty and a source of constant grievance. Further, the “divorce” model between Israel and Palestine is likely to heighten conflict over core issues such as Jerusalem (to be redivided), settlements (to be mostly forcefully removed, causing havoc in Jewish society), the Palestinian right of return (to be ignored, causing major tensions in Palestinian society), and the status of the Palestinians in Israel (to remain dangerously marginal).

Pastoral Prose Poetry

Urban Pastorals

Clive Wilmer
Worple Press, 2014

In this short, rich book of prose poems, Clive Wilmer renews the pastoral tradition by eschewing romantic idealizations and coming into contact with the living image of an Eden corrupted by natural processes. Those processes, which connect us to the mystery of life and spirit, include both the workings of memory and the mechanisms of civilization. Wilmer’s memories are of a midcentury South London childhood “injured by enemy bombs”; of wooded commons where trees were “the very image of freedom in community”; of discoveries of Shakespeare’s power and Louis Armstrong’s musical “good place, where the leopard lies down with the kid”; and of art as “the expression of man’s pleasure in labour.” These memories form a groundwork for his warmly drawn and enigmatic human portraits, which enliven a religious vision that is convincing for its glowing clarity and sense of scale. Also recommended: Wilmer’s New and Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2012).  

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