Recognize Palestine! Recognize Israel!

Egypt Raid

Viki Jan mourns the death of her parents, Dov and Shula Karlinsky, who were among the eight people killed August 18, 2011, when Arab gunmen crossed into southern Israel from the Egyptian desert and launched a series of attacks against Israel. Credit: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit.

The Palestinian people are seeking recognition at the United Nations, now that Israel’s ultra-right-wing government has refused to freeze settlements and is refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority so long as Hamas is part of the Palestinian government.

The Network of Spiritual Progressives, Tikkun’s political action arm, is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. We are hopeful that UN recognition of Palestine would persuade Israel to freeze its expansion of settlements in the areas that were part of pre-1967 Palestine. We also hope that UN recognition would lead Israel to negotiate in good faith to create a Palestinian state and reach a just settlement of all remaining issues, ensuring security for Israel and Palestine. These arguments are made in more detail in Tony Klug’s article in this issue of Tikkun.

Mindful of the ways that the UN has in the past been perceived as one-sidedly anti-Israel, we believe that its recognition of Palestine should be accompanied by a statement reaffirming Israel’s right to security. Even though the State of Israel has enormously more power than the Palestinians, the inner experience of Israelis (and of Israel’s supporters around the world) is one of insecurity and fear—a feeling reinforced by the attack on an Israeli bus near Eilat in late August. It’s important to acknowledge that fear by offering Israel, one of the greatest military powers in the world, real reassurance while supporting Palestinian recognition and membership in the UN.

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This speaks to a key strategic issue: we are not going to get Israel to end the Occupation until Israelis feel less traumatized and less fearful. It doesn’t help to say, “Discussions of Israeli feelings of trauma are just an excuse for continued colonial domination,” unless the goal is merely showing how morally righteous we can be and how screwed up the current Israeli leadership is. But Tikkun’s goal is to end the Occupation, not just be right about how bad it is. And to end the Occupation, we have to have Israel not just being safe (which it has been for a long time) but feeling safe, which requires the kind of transformation—in Israel, Palestine, and the West—that I describe in my forthcoming book Embracing Israel/Palestine.

Yet we also want to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli Occupation, and for that reason we are no longer willing to watch passively as Israel continues into its forty-fourth year of the Occupation of the West Bank, as well as its four-year-old blockade of Gaza. So in the hopes that UN recognition will be a stepping stone toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict, we encourage you to sign the petition that we will deliver to the U.S. government and to the UN on September 22, and then again next year when the UN convenes in 2012. Sign online or ask us to send a copy for you to take around to friends and co-workers!

(To return to the Fall 2011 Table of Contents, click here. For an attractively formatted, ready-to-print PDF of this article, click here.)


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