REAL AUDIO OF THE PANEL
A Vision of a Future Israel-Palestine
I am honored to be invited to speak today at the hall of the Grace Cathedral
I do not know how long you give me to speak? I will try my best to say it all in about half hour, I hope.
You have asked me to envision, if a true peace comes between Israelis and Palestinians, what the future will look like. I am neither a seer or a visionary and of course I don't have a "crystal ball" ; but Iíll try my best.
In order to try and predict the future, one must have a thorough understanding of past history, what is transpiring in the present, and take that knowledge and use it for possible future scenarios.
Therefore, I ask you to indulge me for a few minutes as I outline some key moments in the past which are necessary for any understanding of what may occur in the future.
Furthermore, I believe that the peoples of the three Abrahamic Religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims [in order of creation] are entirely capable of living together, based on their common ties as bloodbrothers and not on their particularistic differences.
B) The 'IFs"
This ability to live together is contingent upon what I would like to call "IFs"
(1) If Ö in response to 33 years of occupation, Israelis and others will become capable of understanding the frustration, the despair, the distrust and ultimately the rage of the Palestinians living both in Israel and the Occupied Territories,
(2) If ... response to 33 years of occupation, during which time hundreds of thousands of Jews and spouses and children of Jews have come from the former USSR, Ethiopia and even the United States, many of whom have been either induced by the Israeli government, or by their own design to live on illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories in direct disregard for several international laws including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Geneva IV Convention, post WWII, resolutions 242 and 338 of the UN, as well as the UN universal declaration of human rights; that Israel recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people and the right of return of these refugees, as articulated in UN resolution 194 (which by the way was the resolution David Ben-Gurion agreed to follow as a quid pro quo to admitting the state of Israel into the United Nations). there are now approximately 4 million Palestinian refugees; those of the original Al-Naqba and their descendants,
(3) If ... during that 33 year occupation, a Jewish citizen of Israel had an increase in standard of living comparable to that of western Europe or the United States while the Palestinian lost ground on those terms, increased the level of unemployment, and became almost totally dependent on Israel for jobs and for outside sources for other forms of largesse,
(4) If ... during those 33 years, a prisoner in another country; Nelson Mandela of the apartheid union of South Africa (who have been in jail for 28 years), became the president of South Africa, and the country abandoned its policy of racial discrimination; and that man proved that neither he nor his country men struggling for freedom and equality were not terrorists; then it seems that Israeli Jews should be able to form the same opinion with regard to the Palestinians, (they are not terrorists, they are people struggling for freedom and equality)
If those "IFs", those conditions are acknowledged and corrected; then I believe that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of forgiving each other and building a new future based on international law.
C) A vision by others
1) At a recent meeting of Israel's Cabinet, Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami made a most unusual statement to his governmental colleagues, one that arguably expresses the most honest and important insight into the fifty-year-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians ever expressed by any Jewish leader. It holds the potential of transforming the Israeli-Palestinian and the larger Israeli-Arab conflict in ways more profound and lasting than any formal peace treaty can hope to.
It has never really been understood by Israelis that what has made their conflict with the Palestinians so difficult to resolve has been their inability to acknowledge, even to themselves, that the source of Palestinian anger and violence against them is not an Arab or Muslim version of European anti-Semitism, or an alleged unique Arab/Muslim proclivity to violence, but an understandable sense of injustice and victimization felt by Palestinians. It has been easy, even convenient, for Jews to construe this deep Palestinian sense of the injustice done to them as anti-Semitism, because Palestinians, and Arabs generally, have made use of the worst excesses of European anti-Semitic rhetoric in trying to advance their cause. It is an ugly and reprehensible strategy that will remain as a permanent stain on Arab honor. But anti-Semitism is not the reason for Palestinian opposition to the creation of Israel, or for their anger at Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Israelis have found it painful to acknowledge the injustice that the establishment of the Jewish State inflicted on the Palestinian people for fear that such an acknowledgment would delegitimize the entire Zionist enterprise. They fear it may justify the claim of the most extremist Palestinians that it is not only the Occupied Territories that Israel needs to return but all of pre-1967 Israel as well.
This fear has resulted in an inability to recognize that Palestinians have any rights whatever, even in the West Bank and Gaza. Consequently, Israeli concessions to the Palestinians are justified by Israelis only to the extent that they serve Israel's security interests, not as an obligation to redress an injustice and satisfy legitimate claims. Thus the cycle of bitterness and mutual recrimination is endlessly reinforced, with time serving only to make the conflict ever less resolvable.
(From: NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS (www.nybooks.com) January 11, 2001
Israel: A Historic Statement
HENRY SIEGMAN is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and was formerly Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress. The views expressed in the essay in this issue are his own.)
2) In his book "Bloodbrothers" Fr, Elias Chacour page 19 (Father Elias
Chacour wrote about his father telling him and his brothers and sisters
about the suffering of our bloodbrothers the Jews. he wrote: "Come
here children said his father, I have something special to tell you...in
Europe there was a man called Hitler a Satan. For long time he was
killing Jewish people. men women, grandparents - even boys and girls
like you. he killed them just because they were Jews. for no other
reason...now this Hitler is dead, father continued, but our Jewish
brothers have been badly hurt and frightened. they can't go back to their
homes in Europe and they have not been welcomed by the rest of the world.
so they are coming here to look for a home...Jewish soldiers will be traveling
through Biram (the home town of father chacour).They are called Zionists.
A few will stay in each home, and some will stay
right here with us for few days - maybe a week. Then they will move on. They have machine guns, but they don't kill. you have no reason to be afraid. We must be especially kind and make them feel at home."
Father Chacour had do sleep with his brothers and sisters on the roof of his house to give his bed to the coming bloodbrothers, and then on a tree and then away from home. and the rest of the story is known. the house of father Chacour was taken, Biram was bombed and until today after 53 years the blood brothers did not give them the right of return to Biram or to their house. The Palestinian people would trust again their bloodbrothers the Israelis if really they give the Palestinians the same dignity that they are asking from the whole world after the inhumane suffering of the holocaust and then i can believe that Jews Muslims and Christians can live under the same house, they can eat from the same plate and drink water from the same cup. they will feel really brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same God, Allah Adonia, Hashem, the Most High. And I believe that all the Palestinian refugees, over 4 million people will not become a thread to the Israelis but bloodbrothers the way the South
African have done to the white when they got back their dignity. do the white South African fear the black? No, they do not. Israelis should not fear the Palestinians when they got back their basic dignity.
3) The Middle East Working Group of Inter-Church Action (ICA), a coalition of national church groups commissioned Fr. Robert Assaly a friend of mine to go to the Holy Land from Dec. 5th to Dec. 19. The Delegation came with the conclusion that Israel sould change it's policy of Apartheid against the Palestinians. In Fact, the first foreign country that Nelson Mandela visited after his release from 27 years in prison was Palestine. After 10 days there, he said, "This [Palestine] is South Africa."
4) In His Yearly address for Christmas, his Excellency the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem Riah Abu Assal wrote: "The Diocese of Jerusalem has repeatedly expressed its profound disappointment at the way in which the Israeli Leadership has allowed this situation to rapidly deteriorate. We vehemently denounce the random shooting by the Israeli forces. We hold the government of Israel responsible for the killing and injury of our fellow brothers and sisters."
D) My vision of the future
1) I believe that one day a real democratic country will see the light
of day because true peace cannot be founded on inequality and on that day
the Israelis and the Palestinians will feel that they are equal in every
sense of the word. And they can both build a real democratic country with
a specific vision of humanity which treats every human being as inherently
equal and deserving equal rights. This vision of equality that inspired
all human rights conventions that UN member States have signed as well
as International Humanitarian law.
2) Yes, I believe in the establishment of a democratic state in the area that now encompasses all of the former British mandate Palestine. I believe in one state in which the different communities in the Holy Land may live as full equals.
What now exists in truth, is a Zionist State, based on a doctrine which gives preference to those who are Jews, and purports to still be a democracy in the way that Americans Understand that word. One cannot have a true democracy, where by law, as George Orwell said in his book 1984 "Some of us are more equal than others."
A Real democratic country where people like in the USA from different
would feel equal and do not fear each other and would comply with the
international norms of human rights.
3) A two state solution, is in my view only an interim solution while disparate communities manage to adjust to each others life styles and begin to understand one an other in a better light. Ultimately one state will emerge, because "good fences" do not make "good neighbors" in spite of what Carl Sandberg wrote. This one state that will emerge will be a state responsible to all of its citizens, and not claim a supranational responsibility to only one group of people, who are affiliated by a religious means.
Dear friends, a benign future of the Israelis and Palestinians depends
The other way around will result in two small balkanized countries, side by side that fear each other. From this fear will come conflict, as it inevitably does, and the region and the world will be back in the same position as it was more than a half century ago.
I hope that the Israelis and the Palestinians as bloodbrothers will think of the many already dead of both sides and stop the shedding of a new bloodbrother or sister.
I pray with you like all you, who believe in peace, justice and truth
day and wait with you for it.