The Rag Blog / March 29, 2008
Last updated, April 5, 2008
Our recent debate on Israel/Palestine/Zionism/anti-Semitism seems to have run its regular course without much resolution. While articulate statements were made, I don’t think it was unifying or moved the debate forward much, if at all. Hence, I propose that we take on the project of writing a just, fair and comprehensive peace plan for the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
My motivation is based on two assumptions. One, the basic elements of such a peace plan have been apparent for a long time. Two, we would probably agree much more on a plan for resolution than we do about who is more aggrieved.
I’m working on my plan now. I look forward to a more fruitful discussion.
David Hamilton / The Rag Blog
My personal preference is a one state solution – one secular country governed by democracy, including Jews, Arabs, Christians and seculars. As one who considers practically all organized religions to be divisive and reactionary, I don’t support any non-secular states, regardless of their particular religious affiliation. Unfortunately, that is not considered possible in this circumstance at this time. Consensus opinion is that a two-state solution is the only viable option. The general framework is “Land for Peace”. This means that Israel gives up land that it currently occupies to the Palestinians in exchange for a guaranteed peace.
This plan assumes the support of a unified Palestinian leadership. The purpose of writing this plan is to demonstrate that the general elements of a just peace plan are and have been apparent for a very long time. It is also hoped that in focusing on solutions the subscribers to this list will find more unity.
1. The Palestinian Authority (including Hamas), the bordering states of Lebanon (including Hezbollah), Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, all members of the Arab League, and Iran recognize the government of Israel within borders established by this treaty, establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel and sign an omnibus non-aggression treaty with Israel.
2. Israel withdraws all its military forces and governmental authorities from the West Bank in its entirety, returning to the 1967 “Green Line” and turning over all authority for the region to the Palestinian Authority. If mutual agreement can be reached, border adjustments may be negotiated directly between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority based on the principal of equality. That is, equal land of equal value exchanged by both sides. No Israeli “security corridors” may cross Palestinian territory. Existing Israeli settlements on the West Bank may remain, with individual civil and property rights guaranteed, but under Palestinian authority.
3. The capital of the Palestinian Authority will be located in East Jerusalem.
4. The “right of return” wherein Palestinians have the right to return to property they lost in 1948 with the establishment of the state of Israel will be relinquished by the Palestinian Authority in return for 50 billion dollars in development aid to be provided over the next 10 years.
5. The Golan Heights will be returned to Syria and completely demilitarized.
6. A separate religious shrine will be established including the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall. This shrine will be autonomous, governed by an equal number of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and will not be considered part of either Israel or Palestine. It will be designated a “world heritage shrine” and have a police force composed of UN provided personnel under the direction of the governing board of religious leaders. Admittance to the shrine will be guaranteed to all.
7. A modern multi-lane highway will be built between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip across Israeli territory. Israel will have the prerogative to insist that there be no exits on this road. No tolls may be charged and no road blocks established by the Israeli government.
8. Israel will sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thereby opening its nuclear weapons facilities to IAEA inspection and agree to negotiate with all parties toward the establishment of a nuclear weapons free Middle East.
Your comments on this plan are cordially invited.
Point One assumes getting Hamas and Hezbollah to the table.
Of course, there was a time when getting Fatah to the table was a pipe dream. It was done by leaning on Fatah’s state sponsors. In this case, the primary state sponsor is Iran. Who will do the leaning? The US has no credibility with Iran as it did with Fatah’s state sponsors.
Who will guarantee the demilitarized status of Golan and, more importantly, who will control the water?
Since a “right of return” for Palestinians combined with democracy would potentially destroy the Jewish state (I do hope your revulsion extends to Islamic states), would you settle for money compensation like we have in the US for property taken by government?
I like the idea of leaning on Israel to sign the nuke treaty but Clinton was the last Prez to lean on Israel about anything and, before him, Carter. The problem is that as long as the US backs anything Israel does with no limitations the Israeli hardliners have no reason to give an inch.
The idea of a superhighway with exits that can be closed is pretty inventive. Probably a good idea to put a weapons checkpoint at each end, too.
Not only is a political solution to the status of Jerusalem necessary, the idea of the UN recognizing the status of the site and guaranteeing access is excellent. Let both sides claim a Jerusalem address as their capital.
In my callow youth, I thought that the Temple Mount should be wired with a nuclear device that could only be triggered by simultaneous use of keys put into the hands of the most radical Muslim, the most radical Jew, and the most radical Christian to be found. With power comes responsibility. Or not.
David Hamilton’s proposal should be the template for a large segment of the work done on all progressive blogs and salons. Of course, analysis and anecdote and opinion and propaganda and news-reporting are the basic products of this – and related – media. The missing ingredients – almost universally – are policy and program. But this is exactly where we should be headed – to a major extent.
The only objection can be that we’re not smart enough – or motivated enough – to perform this task. (Powerlessness is not a legitimate excuse, because, if we husband this process, we will create the power.) Is this true? Are we all helpless? Are we all victims or victims-to-be? Do we only know how to criticize, how to demonstrate, how to whine? It’s not true, is it? We can construct solutions, and knowing the extent and basic nature of the problems, our solutions should be better than most.
I propose – a la David’s approach – that some segment of your contribution should consist of policy or program formulations to improve our lives and those of our fellow Earthians. Maybe 1 out of every 3 posts by any individual should be an outline of suggested solutions. Don’t like GM food? What should we do? Save seed? Support an organization that does save seed? Create, join, publicize a, say, Sustainability organization that has a policy platform that includes heteroculture?
The Rag Blog has become a potential big-time blog under Richard’s and Thorne’s guidance. How about a subsection devoted to policy and program discussions? Rather than a daily news format, that section would have major categories with ongoing, long-term threads. Each category could have a coordinator, whose main responsibility would be to summarize the past week’s discussions, and who would always be trying to formulate a best-practices position paper on the subject. When enough participants agree on a paper, then it becomes a formal position for this salon.
The other duty of a coordinator would be to try elicit responses from other salons which might share an interest. As you may be aware, our fragmentation is a large part of the obstacle to power that we face. Coming together on policy and program may or may not solve the existentialist dilemna, but at least we can debate looking forward, instead of backward.
OK – that was off-thread. As to Israel and Palestine, I don’t know. All that I do know is that the Israelis cannot keep their collective adrenaline levels high forever, which is apparently the chief electoral strategy of Likud and Olmert’s party. Best to make some deals, and soon. Stopping the settlers/settlements would be a good thing, but then they would have to throw the fundamentalists under the bus and re-legitimize Labor. Still – that’s the logical move in terms of the national interest.
“As to Israel and Palestine, I don’t know. All that I do know is that the Israelis cannot keep their collective adrenaline levels high forever, which is apparently the chief electoral strategy of Likud and Olmert’s party. Best to make some deals, and soon.”
Paul’s statement above would be all there is to say if the hardliners could not count on some timely terrorism from the other side to keep their electoral troops in line.
Cue the moral equivalency brigade. Yes, there is a sense in which the Israelis are “terrorists” when they use modern tech to fire back. They know non-combatants will get killed. Yes, the US, being a hi tech society, is predisposed to accept low tech warfare as “terrorism.” Nobody who can’t see the flaws in this argument, I predict, will have anything to do with bringing peace to the Middle East.
Surely no one can challenge David’s chutzpah for tackling head-on one of the most perplexing problems of my lifetime.
I must, however, question two of his points:
1. “Existing Israeli settlements on the West Bank may remain, with individual civil and property rights guaranteed, but under Palestinian authority.”
Were the settlement properties obtained according to rule of law? On whose authority were the settlers’ individual and property rights guaranteed? Was the acquisition of land and the authority under which it was acquired, in fact, legal under international law? If the answer is — as I understand it to be (see links below) — generally “no,” then the settlers on confiscated public and private land must be relocated to pre-occupation Israel, with reparations by the Israeli government to offset financial loss and hardship — and soften the political fallout. This solution may, in fact, be acceptable for the East European immigrants who were lured by cheap real estate subsidies and might not wish to continue to reside in an Arab-controlled environment, but a substantial number of the settlers are Zionist fundamentalists for whom the reestablishment of Eretz Yisrael is considered a historical and religious imperative. Here Israel’s resolve for peace will be tested as dramatically as it was during the shutdown of the Gaza settlements in 2005.
2. The second issue lurks at the epicenter of the conflict: the confiscation — often at gunpoint — of Arab and Sephardi lands carried out under the directive of Plan D (enacted sixty years ago this month) by the Zionist Haganah paramilitary underground as well as Irgun and Lehi armed gangs. In recent years, actions such as these have been called “ethnic cleansing.”
David suggests that Palestinians should relinquish “right of return” in exchange for 50 billion dollars of development aid. The problem with this solution is that it is a collective answer to many tens of thousands of individual injustices — a million Palestinians uprooted from their homes and more than 450 Palestinian villages bulldozed into rubble.
While I think collective reparations are necessary to build a viable Palestinian nation, I think the underpinnings of a permanent solution must be based on fair compensation to the descendants of the 700,000-800,000 Palestinians who were expelled and another 250,000 displaced and exiled internally within Israeli borders during the Naqba or Catastrophe, as the exodus came to be called in Arab lands.
Today there are 4.4 million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations and at least another million who are not registered. International law recognizes the rights of refugees to regain their property or, alternately, to receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement, and this right was affirmed for the Palestinians by U.N. Resolution 194 in 1948. An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe refugee rights is the single most important obstacle to enduring peace, and almost 70 percent, according to the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center’s Aug. 2007 poll, believe refugees should be allowed to return to”their original land.”
This sentiment suggests that Israel and its international underwriters should shift course, acknowledge the negative outcome of its leaders’ policies six decades ago, and embark on a pragmatic course toward a two-state solution. I believe Israel should put aside its current “stick and bigger stick” policies and embark on bold reconciliation initiative, sort of a “carrot and bigger carrot” policy:
The carrot: Israel will announce that refugees displaced in 1948 will be allowed to return as Israeli citizens, with Israel offering to pay for rebuilding or replacing confiscated property and destroyed homes and businesses. Citizenship benefits will be the same as Israeli Palestinians — which, it should be noted, come with caveats and provisions not required of Jewish citizens.
The bigger carrot: Alternately, Israel would offer the refugees a “generous” compensation package to pay for relocation within the newly created Palestinian state. Thus the Israel government will wager that most Palestinians are, at the bottom line, realists and, recognizing that old Palestine is no more,will opt for taking the bigger carrot and being part of the creation of a historic new Palestinian nation.
The settlements in the Occupied Territories, presently home to almost a half-million Jews, should be part of the “carrot/big carrot” offer, as the housing, manufacturing and business base, and infrastructure, provide a powerful stimulus for the Palestinian families who for three generations have lived in squalid refugee camps. Israel missed a golden opportunity when it bulldozed the abandoned settlements in Gaza — including a large Israeli organic greenhouse operation employing Palestinian workers — and should not repeat this mistake under a new comprehensive and permanent peace plan. The transfer of property and infrastructure should be entrusted to a trusted international development organization or the U.N. in order to guarantee that the former settlements do not become resorts for corrupt and high-living Palestine Authority apparatchiks.
I maintain that by giving Palestinians the choice of return to Israel or a future in Palestine, most will chose the latter. More important, the dynamic of choice will do more than anything else to signal Israel’s desire to recast its own history in a manner consistent with the currents of humanism and love of peace which run so deep in Jewish culture and thought over millennia.
This touching faith in the rule of law as an obstacle to the viability of a Jewish state in the midst of Islamic states of varying degrees of orthodoxy (funny in itself for a religion that professes not to have an orthodoxy) would perhaps be more palatable if it did not come from the U.S.
I hold dual citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.
When you have finished applying to my people the principles you are trying to set up for Palestinians, I will be more disposed to take you seriously.
The standards with which you wish to destroy Israel would also destroy the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand–all very recent settler societies.
Applied with no time limit, those same standards would destroy all civilization, everywhere.
Alan , who is on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, says:
Steve is saying that if Palestine is saved for the Palestinians then civilization as we know it is at risk. Hmmm, maybe not so bad considering where our Western “civilization” has placed us. His argument is that all claims by those who were forced off their land are the same for all in all times. So if the Israeli government were forced to give back all the land they stole then so would all imperialistic land grabbers everywhere no matter how ancient the claim.
Hmmm, not so bad an idea. The Native Americans are still being beaten up today, not to mention the not so far in the past rip offs. Similarly the Palestinians are being murdered as we speak. The Klu Klux Klan settlers are taking up every square foot of Palestine that they can, creating more “facts on the ground” that they can use as bargaining chips or simply just own. Allowing these thugs to hide behind bogus religious claims is sickening.
I could not follow Steve’s contradictory non-logic on Native Americans: we should apply the same standard to the Native Americans that we apply to the Palestinians if we are to be considered “serious” but then he says we cannot do this very thing for “his people”. I hope he doesn’t speak with his forked tongue around the Cherokee.
The Native Americans here are united against any uranium mining. Other Native American groups are walking from Alcatraz Island to Washington D.C., The Long March, to protest the continuing rip off of Native Americans. I will met up with them soon. Native American sovereignty has been denied for too long.
As I try to explain in my written but not yet published book on the subject, tribal sovereignty is way more complicated than you are making it (since you are speaking post-Westphalia and we predate that) and you perhaps miss my point.
You can’t own land. Land owns you.
All land titles, at all times and places, are only bargaining chips, fictions around which life happens to us while we are making other plans.
In Tejas, a full title search goes back to land grants from the Spanish Crown. What a joke!
You are right that Jewish settlers are consciously trying to affect the final product by creating “facts on the ground.” Those “facts” have whatever import we choose to give them, just like the fact of a 15 year old wearing a bomb.
Please carefully reread my post. I am not advocating a one-state solution or the destruction of Israel, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, all “civilizations,” or Oz. I am advocating a revolutionary transformation of all of the above into truly civilized social entities.
The issue, I think, that burns most rancorously in the Palestinian pysche is the Naqba, the theft of home and homeland by armed gangs while the world watched and did nothing. I believe that this contentious matter eventually can (and must) be resolved through Israel’s acknowledgement of past leadership mistakes by Ben-Gurion and Co. and payments of fair (and very large) amounts in reparation and development grants.
The old Palestine no longer exists, and the surviving Palestinians who were adults during the Naqba now are in their 80s — grandparents and great-grandparents of at least three generations who have been born and raised in exile — in the camps, crowded villages, or urban ghettos of Gaza, the West Bank, Golan Heights, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
My proposal dramatizes my belief that most Palestinians, if given the *choice* of return to what no longer exists in Israel and a future in the New Palestine, within the very communities that have developed over the past 60 years, would chose the new Palestinian state. Such a decision, of course, would be eased by infusion of lots and lots of cash.
Put yourself in the place of a 60-something Palestinian in the Occupied Territories: What would you do if your experience of your homeland is your parents’ and grandparents’ faded pictures, nostalgic stories, and bitter anger plus whatever vague memories a five-year-old might have of your family routed out of home and forced into exile? Would you burn to return to the old village, now a rock-strewn pile of rubble — or maybe the site of a new mall or condo project — and to second-class citizenship in a strange land with strange language? Or would you take the money and opt to work with your present community — amidst the people you have come to know and trust — to build a new homeland? I think it’s a no-brainer… IF the money is there.
Your other comments are rather interesting, given how lawyers are known to appreciate conciseness of language and meaning …
1. “… settler societies”?!? What a clever little phrase to whitewash centuries of genocide and cultural devastation under the banner of the Euro-American doctrine of Manifest Destiny!
2. “… all civilizations”?!? For crying out loud, what is civilized about what the United States government did to the Cherokee, Shawnee, and Creek; the Seminoles (my great-great-great grandfather wrote *The Exiles of Florida: The Crimes Committed by Our Government Against the Maroons Who Fled From South Carolina and Other Slave States* in 1858 to expose the government’s dark motives in forcing the Seminoles out of their Everglades homeland); the Great Sioux Nation; the Iroquois Confederacy; the Apache; the Comanche; the Nez Perce; and the list of atrocities goes on and on. (And let’s not forget what the U.S. government continues to do to Leonard Peltier.) What Australia did to the Aboriginal People, New Zealand to the Maori …
Pardon me if I fail to find anything *civilized* about “civilization” as practiced by the so-called “settler societies.” In fact, using language to objectively connote reality — as I believe it must if one is to “get real” — I would argue that so-called Christian Euro-barbarian soldiers sacked indigenous civilizations on every continent where we ventured during the past two millennia — from the peaceful Arab and Sephardic tribespeople of the Levant a thousand years ago to the Cherokees only a little over a century ago.
I would further posit that our American inability to grasp time and history beyond the sound bite or the 48-hour news cycle is one result of our repression of collective guilt over our own crimes of ethnic cleansing.
But I digress. The subject is Israel-Palestine.
3. “… [my] touching faith in rule of law”??? Your Honor, I have no faith in “rule of law” as an end-in-itself. Fascist Germany had rule of law — the law was ruled by the Nazis. The U.S. is moving from a historically revolutionary egalitarian concept of rule of law to law ruled by the corporate and militarist oligarchy. So rule of law really has to do with who rules over the law, and since the early ’60s in Bloomington I have worked not to advocate for rule of law but to demand justice, a principle (in my thinking) that transcends law and its putative rulers.
4. “…destroy Israel … destroy the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand … destroy all civilization, everywhere … ” This idea seems to unravel you. Why? Are you so attached to the trickled-down spoils of Western “civilization” and its investitures?
Spring is a magic time in Bloomington, so I hope you have time to stop and enjoy a walk through Dunn Meadow, carefully avoiding the throngs of making-out couples. If you cross paths with Willis Barnstone, please give him my fondest regards. He is the most decent human being I have ever met. I understand that his health is not good.
If you ever stop by the Runcible Spoon, ask whether my old compadre Allen Gurevitz is around. A poet and anarcho-communist-mystic, Allen is the ur-source of much movement history in all of its fascinating Heartland contradictions, from the founding of the Bloomington W.E.B. DuBois Club and Sexual Freedom League to Clark Kerr’s Halloween hook-up with dancing robots and the devil himself. You would enjoy knowing him.
Onward through the fog …
PS. I gotta say that I did not follow your thinking on Islamic “orthodoxy” and the Jewish state. Are you describing as Islamic states those countries in which the vast majority of the population is Muslim and as Jewish state Israel where the vast majority is Jewish? Last I looked, the only country I would describe as a theocracy is predominately Shi’ite Iran, a non-Arab nation with a special history at the hands of U.S. and British “nation-builders.” Meanwhile, the same Islamic fundamentalists we are fighting in “the war on terror” are also engaged in overthrowing Arab states considered too secular, even states with dual systems, secular law and Sharia, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
I respect David’s attempt at a so called “peace plan” but in my opinion there are major problems. Quite honestly, this plan would be much more difficult to implement than a one-state solution. What is needed and would be much more successful is a non-violent Israeli and Palestinian civil rights movement with clearly stated objectives.
Anyway, I will state my concerns with the proposed peace plan.
1. The events of 1948 and the Palestinian refugees are totally overlooked. This is the major problem with the proposed peace plan. Peace is not going to happen if the refugee problem is not solved, period! Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian refugees is THE root of the conflict. And not just the 4 million refugees in the ghettos of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, but the refugees in camps in Gaza and the West Bank. Let me remind you that 80% of the population in Gaza are refugees! Where did they flee from? Why do they call themselves Palestinian? Not because they are from Gaza but because they are from lands that became Israel in 1948.
Do you seriously think $50 billion in development aid is going to end this conflict?! This is essentially what you are proposing. The refugees must be offered the right to return to Israel AND monetary reparations for the original crime of expulsion. Otherwise they will continue to feel oppressed by the state of Israel. Human rights cannot be negotiated. And yes, the right of a refugee to return is as basic a human right as free speech and freedom of religion, especially when people have been expelled because of their ethnicity, because of their religion.
Furthermore, there is no Palestinian Authority that can sign off on the Palestinian right of return. Whatever solution comes about, it must be implemented between Israel, the UN (as caretaker of Universal Human Rights), and the individual refugees themselves.
They must be offered the explicit right of return OR to remain where they are and receive some sort of equivalent compensation for their loss of property and the crime of expulsion. It is not reasonable to think that any peace can be negotiated between Israel and any sort of Palestinian Authority that does not approach the millions of Palestinian refugees directly and sincerely.
I just can’t believe that the proposed peace plan is any more reasonable than a one-state solution. The State of Israel, as it is held hostage by political Zionism today, would never accept an equal Palestinian state. It will always be seen as a puppet state. It’s not simply a matter of connecting the dots between Hamas, Fatah, Likud, and Labour. That’s not peace.
Additionally, the stated peace plan COMPLETELY ignores Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship. What of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in Israel but are still refugees? What of the 1 million Palestinians who live under a state and in a society which explicitly discriminates against them in almost all aspects of their lives? What of the reality that mainstream Israeli opinion holds that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship should be “transferred” to the new Palestinian state?
Peace will not come by negotiating the legitimization of the status quo. Peace will come after an Israeli-Palestinian movement which confronts all aspects of political Zionism’s conflict with the indigenous reaches critical mass. It’s time to start getting creative.
Palestine Solidarity Committee
From Michael Eisenstadt —
Mishal Al-Johar writes:
The events of 1948 and the Palestinian refugees are totally overlooked. This is the major problem with the proposed peace plan.
Peace is not going to happen if the refugee problem is not solved,period! Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian refugees is THE root of the conflict. And not just the 4 million refugees in the ghettos of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, but the refugees in camps in Gaza and the West Bank. Let me remind you that 80% of the population in Gaza arerefugees! Where did they flee from? Why do they call themselves Palestinian? Not because they are from Gaza but because they are from lands that became Israel in 1948. Do you seriously think $50 billion in development aid is going to end this conflict?! This is essentially what you are proposing. The refugees must be offered the right to return to Israel AND monetary reparations for the original crime of expulsion. Otherwise they will continue to feel oppressed by the state of Israel. Human rights cannot be negotiated. And yes, the right of a refugee to return is as basic a human right as free speech and freedom of religion, especially when people have been expelled because of their ethnicity, because of their religion.
Mishal Al-Johar is overlooking something. Yes, Israel expelled and appropriated the property of ~750,000 Palestinians in the course of their “War of Independence.” The Israelis were fighting for survival against the Arab armies (not the Palestinian army for they had none) which were attempting to extirpate the Zionist pre-1948 enterprise. Ben Gurion gave the explicit order to the Israeli army to maximize the number of refugees in the course of fighting because not to would have been to not take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity. When such a crime is doneby a government it is exculpated as “raison d’etat.”
The Palestinians lost their land in a passage of arms in war. Israelis will NEVER NEVER NEVER accept the right of return for it would be to overturn the present regime’s demographic reality. That is for Israel non-negotiable.
As for the crime of expulsion, I would remind Mishal that all regimes are founded on a crime (Montesquie), every political entity in the whole world is based on the dispossession of the previous inhabitants of that place. The Israeli’s “crime” is to have done it only 60 years ago. If it is a crime for Israel, it is a crime foreveryone else. If you are a U.S. citizen and believe that this is so, I advise you to deed over your property if you have any to the nearest American Indian so as to live up to your principles.
Like the Germans expelled from Eastern Europe after Germany lost the war in 1945 (1 million of them plus died in the course of this operation), like the Croatians expelled from Yugoslavia more recently, and all the others, the Palestinians may if they wish forget their loss and get on with their lives. Or they may undertake another passage of arms (already tried by Nasser).
More discussion to come. For those who are not Rag bloggers, please add your ideas as “Comments.”
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