Israeli Settlements in Palestine – Why They Matter

This post is stimulated by a New York Times op-ed authored by Peter Beinart, advocating for the boycott of Israeli settlement products and cultural interaction.

Peter (forgive my first name familiarity) takes a few important stands that make sense to me.

His primary assertion is that the two-state approach based on the last long applied consented functional Israeli/Arab(Palestinian) border – the green line, remains possible, is a desirable goal, and optimizes social justice.

In contrast to the multiple right and the left-wing versions of single state proposals, the two state approach leaves an Israel that has the potential of remaining a Jewish-majority state, resulting in haven and site of self-governance for the world Jewish community. It also has the potential to affirm the democratic values of its founders, citizens, world’s supporters, and international legal and social institutions.

That combination of national and democratic is a healthy tension, requiring persistent reference to ethical ideals to comprise a real Jewish state, an ideal in practice. It’s intimate, of the logic of families, constructed of emotional intelligence, caring as a verb.

To state the obvious, there is a Jewish majority on the west of the green line that desires to self-govern as a coherent Jewish community. And, there is a Palestinian majority on the east of the green line that desires to self-govern as a coherent Palestinian community.

If that is true, then a two-state approach optimizes self-determination, optimizes consent of the governed.

If the confident majority of the population from river to sea prefer a single state, feel that they do not self-govern in a two-state format, then a single state makes sense. To accomplish tangibly, it would require consent of a super-super majority, to the extent that civil values comprise an undeniable social norm.

If on the other hand, more than an insignificant minority in either community(s) felt that a single state format did not represent them, then internal civil strife or war would ensue, which would comprise a MUCH larger tension than the inherent tension/balance of a democratic nation, “liberal Zionism”.

A viable two-state requires two healthy communities that have the capacity to live as good neighbor to good neighbor. That requires universally vibrant economies, genuine democracy in each community, a sense of national pride in governing and social institutions, and respect and appreciation of the other.

Those are tangible constructions, that with imaginative and well-intended collaborative design, can be reconciled.

The monkey wrench is the settlements.

The settlements function as an Israeli state-expansion strategem. The settlers themselves are human beings/civilians, but the settlement enterprise at nut is a state-sponsored expansion effort. The physical pattern of “fingers” extending into desired territory is the chosen strategy for land settlement that began with the efforts of the yishuv in the 20’s. Its no coincidence that that strategy is continued. (The strategy didn’t originate with Zionists, and is nowhere near unique to Zionists.)

The application of the settlement expansion effort betrays the ethical balance of “enough”. If one does not have enough, then one must struggle to not starve or suffer. When one has enough, but continues to expand, and at others’ expense, then that is of a different moral character. And, much more than just an ethical question, suppressed individuals and communities’ natural state is rage, acted.

The settlement boundaries enacted is an old design. They were designed by Begin and Sharon in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The only new settlements designated since that time have been of renegades, the hilltop youth and religiously motivated.

The significance of the current discussion is of the imprinting of the permanence of the settlements as exclusively Jewish, and nationally as part of Israel.

An annexed West Bank is a rectangle and is “easy” to defend (in the language of likud). The green line is a waist and is defensible only with good background relations between the two states, even with clear borders and accountability of states. The wall is a maze, and is defendable only with the suppression of the Palestinians.

The options are:

  • Single Zionist state from river to sea, requiring a maximum of 25% Palestinian population in the jurisdiction at all, and no legal reconciliation of asserted title, sovereignty, and residency rights of Palestinian refugees. That is the path of slow forced ethnic removal, world denunciation, and continued resentment by Palestinians (and continued excuses by Israelis for suppression)
  • Maze two-states at the wall as boundary, requiring odd forms of Israeli military “defense” of the civilians in the settlements, permanently non-peer Palestinian governance, with no prospect of coherent economy. (As the path to the Mediterranean economy is blocked, the only potential economic growth is through Jordan.)
  • Two-states at or near the green line as consented boundary, allowing the settlers to remain in their homes on the east of the green line, as Palestinian citizens, participating in and obeying Palestinian law, without the protections of Jewish exclusivity, and with likely obligation to fund compensation of Palestinian community to perfect title.
  • Single democratic state with unlimited right of Palestinian return of refugees (soon a majority Palestinian state), hopefully permanently guaranteeing full civil rights to all individuals. America in the Middle East.

In a world without historical trauma, the single state might be possible and desirable. But, both the Jewish Israelis and Palestinians exist as coherent communities because of gross trauma. Healing of trauma doesn’t occur readily in a condition of threat or animosity.

“Boycott the settlements” to accomplish a two-state at the green line? I prefer another path.

And, that is also in the use of language and practice. That is to start acting as if the area east of the green line is Palestine.

Examples would include first marking the border, perhaps with a green thread so it is not forgotten, speaking of the land as Palestine (not as Samaria, not as West Bank, not of non-democratic Israel), seeking a visa from the Palestinian Authority to travel across the green line (even in Jerusalem), voluntarily paying a tax to the Palestinian Authority on all meals consumed in East Jerusalem for example.

Other examples of assertive efforts that a liberal Zionist can pursue are to honor the past residents. Rather than erase prior Palestinian villages (in Israel and in Palestine), liberal Zionists should organize learning, honoring and if sincerely felt, apologizing tours (not as shame, but as self-assertive statements of respect of the other).

And, without question, funding the restoration of now new Palestinian life.

Earning sovereignty, earning friendship.

And, conducted until it is completed, not only until the PR war quiets.

Making peace, not talking so much.

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Banned from Mondoweiss

I thought it was absurd, but, after posting at length there for three years,  a couple weeks ago I was banned from posting at Mondoweiss.

The process was dictatorial, made by an anonymous committee with no communication either from them or to them possible.

A number of others were apparently banned at the same time, left and right.

There didn’t appear to be any logical criteria of the banning except the political popularity of commentators. I am an unpopular commenter there because I remain a supporter of Zionism, although a critic of the application.

It was strange is all I can say. Too reminiscent of the new left “democracy of the room” process.

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Bernard Avishai Talk

Bernard Avishai is Obama, a mediator, who is exposed on his flanks.

I saw him speak yesterday at the Jewish Community of Amherst, a combination reconstructionist synagogue and community center, in one of the most liberal towns in the country, Amherst, MA.

The audience was mostly older. I, at 57, was one of the younger in the audience. There were many in the audience that were utterly distrusting of literally any Palestinian assertion, had deaf ears to Avishai’s efforts at reporting first hand of a constructive, mutually respectful discussion (including Abbas, Hamas officials, Olmert, Mossad officials), and had relatively live ears to an oddly chosen “no-nik”. (My new word for the risk-aversion/fetish strategy of likud and even kadima).

Its common. There is a lot to distrust all around.

There was conspicuously virtually none of the more radical pro-Palestinian cadre that have centered around Hampshire College (also in Amherst), in support of the anti-Israel boycott/divestment/sanctions movement.

My expectation is that they would have taken pot-shots at some of Mr. Avishai’s comments that he didn’t believe that there was intentionally strategized ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the 1948 war.

He, like I, have emphasized the more significant event of the prohibition from return, as codified in three knesset laws in 1949-1951, that prohibited immediate return, prohibited court hearings on contested land, then expropriated “abandoned” land to the state and then to exclusively Jewish semi-governmental agencies.

In his presentation, he attempted to keep the content on the constructive efforts to identify obstacles to a real peace, and particularly the obstacle of the right of return which he considered reconciliable rather than irreconcilable as is often assumed. (The language employed seems irreconcilable.)

My impression of his presentation was of hope, actual prospect, but also some naivete, extending even to gullibility in some respects. (I acknowledge that that is a presumptious word to use for a man that has spoken to many of the primary participants in peace discussions first hand and at length and candidly).

I describe his talk in that sense largely because of his de-emphasis (actually ignoring) of his flanks, their fears, and their willingness to fetishize their fears into ideology that come to fit a self-talking coherence. (It makes sense to the converted. This applies to both the right and to the left.)

The right-leaning flank was present at the talk, in a point-counterpoint format, in which a liberal must be countered by a more conservative Zionist. The counter-point was articulated by a litigator, who exzagerated doubt into the appearance of a certainty. (From that sentiment of distrust, the “responsible” likud position is to maintain the status quo indefinitely and only humane gesture is to continue to exert restraint so as not to disturb the status quo, but not to make any change in relations that would result in the end of the suppression of Palestinians. There is also the “irresponsible” conclusion from the same set of values, which is to employ intimate deterrent and pre-emptive attempts to hasten the removal of Palestinians from their prior home-land.)

The hilltop youth neo-religious zealots often think of themselves as following the model of Joshua or David, asked of God to take the land confidently knowing that God is on our side, and that disobedience to that zeal is the primary sin (to be called and reject the call).

Somehow Solomon is not a model, nor the elder reticent David, the ethical commandments ignored.

The flanks are the majority right now. The street is the majority, and that is one of the examples of Mr. Avishai’s naivete.

The pro-Israeli right thinks of all Palestinians as monolithic, that Fayyad and Abbas are just the same-thinking tip of the iceberg of Hamas, Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad, Al Quaida. So, when Mr. Avishai speaks of his conversations with Abbas and Erekat or even Hamas PR officials, the pro-Israeli crowd doesn’t get it. They don’t distinguish that the people he is talking about are the willing, the respectful and accepting. (I don’t think Hamas is the willing, they are willing lite, very lite, very conditional.)

His confidence is that among the willing, the mechanics of even difficult issues are reconcilable.

I imagine that he knows that the unwilling are currently in the majority in Israel, and even among Palestinian solidarity. The numbers and backbone of the potentially or conditionally willing are unknown.

And, sadly, as it is always psychologically easier to distrust than it is to construct trust, that is often the road taken.

I think of that process, of it being easier to distrust than construct, as an animal trait. When a dog for example confronts another dog, their pallette of responses is limited to play together, fight, or move away. Once growling starts (a warning), the palette shrinks to only fight or move away.

The response of distrust is a preliminary psychological strategem towards the conclusion of moving away.

The reality however is that the Jewish Israeli and the Palestinians are bound to each other, sharing a breadth of populable land the size of Massachusetts. The option to move away and entirely avoid each other isn’t on the palette.

The ONLY real option is the play/make-up option.

I’ve seen dogs that had fought previously stop fighting and befriend each other. Most often it doesn’t happen. Most often, the sight of the other dog stimulates their defensiveness, expressed as warning, then threat, then crisis, then move away again.

It does happen when conditions allow it, when they have room to move away, but find something common to interact about and forget that they are enemies. In the political world, a common enemy is often a stimulus to reallignment.

In the modern world that finding a common enemy won’t result in improvement, but prospective larger scale war, as a distraction from  intimate war.

The areas that I see common cause that distracts from animosity, are things like the J14 movement themes of asserting for economic rights to an affordable decent life, and better yet working together for common needs (not even common political opponents).

Ecology is common. Those that claim to love the land, but willingly despoil it in war or neglect, have some severe internalized cognitive dissonance.

I want to thank Mr. Avishai for his dedication to constructive effort, and I want to remind Mr. Avishai that distractions from his emphasis on constructive effort weakens his thesis. (At the talk, he felt compelled to defend himself from some “indirect” personal insults, and more distractingly to “correct” his critic’s assertions of history and prejudices.)

I feel that the constructive emphasis is astoundingly more effective. In argument, the constructive emphasis is a more winning one if constructed conscientiously. Specifically, the identification of risks is a primary positive component of the constructive process. The criticism, “you have not addressed the risks, the dangers” is a falsehood. In that sense, the risk-aversion orientation (whether articulated by pro-Israeli distrusting or pro-Palestinian distrusting) is a smaller set, a LESS mature response, a renunciation of responsibility rather than a realistic affirmation of responsibility.

Specifically, in the current situation of the Palestinian petition being presented to the UN General Assembly next week, and the animosity towards Israel expressed on its flanks, that the plane is already in the air.

To attempt to stop the plane mid-air, and not maintain sufficient speed to keep aloft, will result in a crash. It is a childish response at this point. Hear that likud. And, if the plane is going to have to land eventually, that it is better that it land confidently safely for all passengers.

So, to Mr. Avishai, “Please keep your eye on the prize. Don’t get distracted. Don’t give up. Don’t wait. You have only one life. Better that you go all out during it.”

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Its No Secret

I support the Palestinian petition for international recognition in the UN and bi-laterally, especially between Palestine and Israel.

I can’t say that I support all possible wordings of a Palestinian petition, but I do support any that declare the intention for Palestine to be sovereign, based on 67 borders (with adjustments that they consent to), and with the firm intention of a peaceful relationship with Israel and Israelis.

It certainly is preferable for all concerned (Israelis and Palestinians), for the process to go as originally planned, but Israel has refused to participate in that process.

The original planned process was negotiation of a proposal to submit to legislatures, then ratification by both communities (demanded by each population).

A rational prerequisite to beginning earnest negotiation is a moratorium on settlement expansion, even within settlement walls. Israel refused to do that, refused to muster the backbone among leadership to put into practice the communication of intent of good will. There is some intent of good will among likud and israel beitanhu, but it is woefully sparse, hidden under layers and layers and layers of petulance.

Risk aversion is a rational response to the tough world of the middle east. Pettiness though is the opposite of risk aversion.

The pretense of risk-aversion to cover reactive angers or even strategized aggression, is provocation, not care. (“Care” having three meanings – 1. To act lovingly, sensitively 2. To not be indifferent – “To care about something” 3. To be avoid danger – “to be careful”.)

Likud never liked the planned process. Their constituency includes those that are primarily highly risk averse, and those that are primarily revisionist (in the meaning of Jabotinsky and Begin), that regard the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as legally and morally promised to be only Israeli.

Hamas never liked the planned process. The definition of borders, makes the conflict over. They also assert that the land is exclusive, exclusively Palestinian in their case. That is not to say that minorities can’t live there, but that they declare that the land is Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic, and minorities should gracefully know their place.

The final definition of borders would have sealed out the argument that the right of return is still a pending right. It would affirm with a sense of permanence that Israel is Israel, Jewish majority, Jewish in primary references, Jewish in character.

To Israel’s credit, even though the official public position of Israel was no moratorium on settlement expansion, there were very significant limitations on the extent of building permitted.

But, at critical moments, more than moments, the Israeli government chose to flaunt the granting of permission to build units, and to flaunt the locations, thereby stopping the negotiations.

The process was political, a conspicuous emotional pandering to internal Israeli popular angers, and a conspicuous emotional slap in the face to Palestinian sentiment, hope, disappointment, then anger.

If Olmert’s proposal was still on the table, maybe Abbas would have proceeded to negotiate anyway (even if secretly). The gap between Olmert’s proposal in 2008 and Abbas’ seemed bridgeable.

Netanyahu NEVER made a specific proposal. Public statements were vague, patronizing, shifting, manipulative.

Without question, a definition of borders and sovereignty without a  collaborative transition process (with MANY details to reconcile), is more dangerous for Israel and Palestine, than one with an agreement.

But, the absence of borders and mutually accepted and viable sovereignty, is equally or more dangerous in any timeframe.

If the Palestinian petition invites the clarification of specific borders and transition process through negotiation, after the declaration, then theme of risk aversion is diminished if not voided entirely.

For rational Israel, it’s a second best process, but if Israel can get ahead of the curve, to accept the Palestinian state, to actually respect the Palestinian desire for sovereignty, for self-governance, then it can become a best outcome.

The process would occur in a different sequence, with periods of feeling of loss of control, but that is life.

Once sovereign, Palestine has considerable international responsibility with considerable consequences. It would be very dangerous for Palestinians if Gaza or the West Bank harbored and accepted the presence of any that undertook intimate terror (suicide bombings or RPG’s at a school bus) or remote terror (shelling civilians with rockets). That would then be an act of war, not an irritation, not the action of a renegade at that point.

I find the “play” of struggle to be abusive. Both dissent and established parties do it, engage in game-playing for the vanity of advantage, rather than serious reconciliation. They get a rush from it, superficial psychological validation.

The universe though is forgiving. Peace is a “when” equation, when reconciliation is pursued. The stubborn approach creates the prospect of war, the willingness to put populations at risk of war for an idea, for a vanity. It attempts to create the illusion that peace is an “if” question. “If THEY comply” or “If THEY don’t comply” is stated as the sole relevant question.

They leave no room for the actual ability, the power, the imagination, the willingness, to create peace. “If” logic shifting to “when” logic, in which action makes some future when into, soon and then now.

There are only a few things that are known. One is that Jews and Palestinians/Arabs will remain in the land, living closely, if not intimately.

Please, get ahead of the curve already, get to the “how-to’s”, to reconcile, and reject the precipice gaming.

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Mutual Humanization

Now is the time. Every time is the time.

I saw a youtube presentation by Ilan Pappe yesterday to a Palestinian solidarity conference in Germany. (Yes, that Germany).

Pappe described the Israeli/Palestinian relationship in terms of colonialism and racism, the two common terms used both by the Islamic political sensitivity and the radical left. At the risk of being accused of a neo-conservative, I consider that alignment of reasoning and approach to be a critical philosophical oddity.

Ilan Pappe, nor Ali Abunimeh,  are Islamicists, jihadists. They identify as on the radical left. Still, the logic is similar, and solidarity periodically articulates components of the same logic as jihadists. Examples occur following terror incidents, this week for example.

Two civilian buses were attacked with machine gun fire and RPG’s. A suicide bomber attacked a military base. Noone claimed credit, and noone really knows who is responsible. The PRC and Hamas stated their sympathy and support for the terror actions, though denied participation. In “response”, Israel bombed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. In “response”, Hamas and other factions resumed rocket fire on Israeli civilian towns (100+ rockets in three days).

The left did not condemn the bombings and definitively did not condemn the rocket fire on civilian towns, but did condemn Israel’s initial attack and then response to rocket shelling. The did express sympathy with frustration of Palestinians (as if Palestinians and not an external jihadist group conducted the initial attacks.)

The three components of the philosophical allignment that I consider critical are

1. The political orientation of the position, ie talking about collective political rights rather than universal individual rights

2. The orientation towards absence of injustice as the measure of what is justice, even if proposed or implied remedy requires a subsequent injustice to implement. I call it a silhouette or constellational approach. A silhouette is an image that appears over time in shadow, impossible to determine substantively as outlines of what one supports is never defined, only what one opposes.

3. The partisan decision, rather than the decision to implement principles. “Which side are you on?” A partisan decision declares that “my side is right” with the primary question of “who was criminal?” rather than “what were criminal acts?”. No consideration of whether one’s own actions violate professed principles is undertaken. Although ends justifying the means is condemned, it is exactly what is applied in solidarity. “By any means necessary” is admired.

I found one theme of Pappe’s to be grossly upsetting, that is that he regards the litmus test of regarding “Zionism is racism” as the primary determinant of whether a person and then their comments, is to be considered or rejected prejudicially.

The concept of coalition towards a goal with liberal Zionists, say an objective of two healthy sovereign self-governing states, is anathema if not predicated on the political religious credo of “Zionism is racism”. (The inclusion of the concept “Zionism is racism” is anathema to liberal Zionists. I for example will attend a demonstration supporting Palestinian individual and national aspirations, but will leave immediately if the theme “Zionism is racism” is articulated.)

“Have you been saved? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord?”

“Well, I feel connected to every living being on the planet, love my neighbor as myself and and love the Creator with my heart and soul”.

“But, you haven’t been saved. You will go to hell.”

Many dissenters to Israel see great harms to Palestinians, particularly Gazans, and desire to make change. They see Israel as more powerful. They see Israel using excessive force, prescriptively prohibiting movement, installing wall/fence, and at a line that Palestinians regard as including Palestinian land.

I agree that all this is occurring, and that the harms caused are wrong, and mostly avoidable.

But, in looking further, “why did this happen?”, “how did this happen?”, too many that I encounter conclude that the root of the problem is Zionism itself, that from day one Zionism was constructed to expropriate. And, in that sense they buy the line that Zionism is a colonial movement, and that it is based on a racial superiority.

They do not apply skepticism to that philosophical assumption. They do not consider if original Zionism was primarily an exploration into how to survive, a liberation in fact. They do not consider if the long-term relationship is a conflict, a war. In thinking about the nakba (explusion and prohibition from return), they do not consider that ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region was attempted, and accomplished to a much more complete state in the West Bank than of Arabs in Israel. They do not consider that sniping, bombings, shelling of civilian towns have continued since 1948, with only moderate periods of abatement.

In applying skepticism, to my mind, the root of the problem turns not to be Zionism (that includes forms that are liberation, “enough” Israel, and forms that are accurately expropriative beyond need), but on formation of political ideology and primarily partisanship itself. There is then an unwitting conspiracy of political ideologs, a “consented” nuclear dance between the mutually violent ideologies and application. (Hamas and factions in fact dancing WITH likud, to keep peace and mutual acceptance at a distance.)

The ONLY potential for change that I see is through the process of mutual humanization. The resumption of verbally aggressive hostility on the part of solidarity, hinders the movement for Palestinian sovereignty, and end of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. People that perceive the potential of respect, can compromise. People that perceive that following compromise, there is only more war, won’t.

It goes both ways. Palestinians are human beings. They are not ultimately “enemy”, “foreign”, “target”. They are human beings. Eventually, Israelis and Palestinians will co-exist, either as neighboring states with trade, culturally connections, family connections; or in some federation.

Similarly, for Israelis, Zionist Israelis. They are human beings.

When a rocket is fired, it is fired at human beings, neighbors. When a rant is shouted, it is shouted at human beings, neighbors. When a bomb is dropped on an apartment, it is dropped on human beings.

For mutual humanization to be effective, it must be determined, assertive, self-motivated, indefatigable. It must honor the lives of those that preceeded current residents, and honor the lives of current residents, in both Israel, Palestine and diasporas. Literally honor.

And, it must get expressed as “I” honor, and collectively “WE” honor and tangibly.

If the primary question is whether one supports mutual humanization in contrast to mutual antipathy, then the question of “which side are you on?” is the wrong question.

And, it is possible that there is no possibility that enemies will think of each other as human beings ever. I don’t believe it.

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Into the Mythic

The population of those individuals that were adults during the holocaust and during the independence/nakba is decreasing rapidly. Those born in 1932 or earlier were young adults during some point of the holocaust (12 years old in 1945). They are at least 79 years old now. For those that experienced the Israeli idependence/Palestinian nakba, they are 76 now.

A twelve year old may be conscious of some of the issues that were going on. Most eighteen year-olds are still barely politically conscious. Relative to the holocaust, an 18-year old in 1945 would have been born in 1927 (84 years old now), a 25-year-old in 1945 would have been born in 1920 (90 years old now).

So, we are in the period in which we can’t hear of the reality of the period first hand, but only second and third hand in story, and repetition of story, and repetition of repetition of story.

We can hear of the reality through scholarship, and that informs us considerably, but doesn’t convey the experience of the time, it tells us of some objective milestones, references, stimuli.

When so much scholarship on Israel/Palestine is of the nature of propaganda, of intended reactions as primary reference, more than open inquiry, we don’t really know.

We are in the land of mythology already, in the land of Balkan like invocations of events that occurred 30 generations before we were born.

The difference between the dependability of story two generations hence and thirty generations hence is considerable. At least, my mother can know her grandmother’s stories and convey them to her grandchildren, maybe even great-grandchildren, but that is second-hand, and still only of what she could discern from a stressed and limited perspective.

The uber-Zionist American kids that one sees volunteering for West Bank duty in heroic self-adulation is based on mythology, on a story, not an experience. It is based on what they were told, not what they saw and reasoned, certainly not what they concluded after skeptically reviewing their own experience. The young Israeli patriot parroting declarations of legal precedent and continuity of authority based on the 1921 San Remo agreement of dissolution of Ottoman territory as authoritatively binding today without modification, is based on mythology.

The 19 year old Palestinian storming the Israeli border in Lebanon declaring his right to return to HIS home in Haifa, is based on mythology, story, incomplete study if any.

The assertions are not entirely untrue, but they are not known. They are believed, gambled on, and like many gambles are done excessively, intoxicated, risking all.

People are told, “Put your all into the struggle. Don’t hold anything of personal security or interest back. That would be selfish. Honor your grandparents’ memory by continuing their struggle.”

But, their struggle is past. Conditions have changed. Possibilities have changed. The world has changed.

Justice, democracy, morality, is in the present, NOT in the past, and definitely not in the mythic past.

The eyes of a human being facing you, willingly smiling, potentially smiling, is the present. The scowl that a hateful myth invokes is the denial of the present.

It is a manifestation of the freedom to never be free.

Myths enliven us. Good ones give us meaning and determination and the tools for kindness.

And myths enslave us. Bad ones give us fear, prejudices, and compel us to live in the past, denying the present, denying our responsibility on the planet, denying God even currently co-creating in denying the present.

Even if our experience was not the heightened trauma of the holocaust, or the nakba, our own present honest experience is equally as critical to the future of the planet and our relations as those marking periods.

What we make of this moment, this era, is it. Any boycott of the present in deference to the mythic, means that the more important event of currently healing the planet and our part of it, might not occur.

THESE are the mythic times. Humbly mythical.

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Jerusalem, Gaza, Solidarity – Stop Screwing Around and Get on the Peace Track

Everyone is distracted, or lulled.

Great things could be happening now.

The PA could be unifying, Hamas could be moderating to the point that they accept Israel at 67 borders. Israel could be actively relaxing roadblocks, opening trade and contact across borders (Gaza and West Bank), forming a long-term moratorium on settlement construction as an indication of intent to actually make peace.

Fatah and Hamas are still talking, but have sidelined all discussion of temporary prime minister until after September, and totally avoided policy discussion. So, as September inches closer, there will not be a unified Palestine to present to the General Assembly and Security Council, but only the same “if” as to policy and practice, that we’ve had for the last five years, thankfully at least not in a state of civil war.

But, likud/Israel beitanhu hasn’t moved an iota closer to peace, nor has the Israeli electorate, and is counting on the implausibility of the UN putting any weight into the September declaration to continue its delay.

Fatah states that even if the General Assembly resolution passes convincingly, that nothing will change until Palestine and Israel negotiate the how-to’s. That would be a good outcome, getting to “how to’s”.

There are MANY wildcards, many parties that desire that there be no peace, no two-state, no “enough Israel” but only “greater Israel” or “no Israel”.

The wildcards are everywhere. Among Israelis, there are those that desire the West Bank to be part of Israel (cleansed of non-Jews) in fulfillment of some weird religious vanity that this period is a repetition of the original conquering of Canaan, and that they are the equivalent of Joshua, trusting in and trusted by God to keep his promise, with them as agents.

There is likud which believes that the land is civil greater Israel, historically Israel rather than messianically. They claim to have gotten political religion, that there is no chance for a simultaneous democratic and Jewish Israel within the boundaries from river to sea.

But, have they? Or, do they just quote their Sharonist new realization as smokescreen? Their extreme risk-aversion, compelling Israeli military presence in the West Bank even after a peace treaty, complete annexation of Jerusalem, and insistence of Arab recognition of Israel as “the Jewish state” rather than as Israel, is an intentional and idiotically intentional obstacle.

There is Hamas which continues to describe all of Israel as “occupied”. To date the most Israel that they have formally accepted is “Palestine at 67 boundaries”, which is none, yet.

There is Palestinian solidarity that supports border storming in Lebanon and Syria, supports the flotilla (another border storming). Many support the concept of a single state, imagining that to be more democratic than partitioned states, even after 80% reject the single state in informal polls. (Maybe I’m wrong, and 80% will soon prefer a single state over a partitioned. I doubt it.)

The tragedy of solidarity undertaking actions like the flotilla is that they enable Hamas to avoid making its critical decision to join the PA in earnest, permanently, respecting the rule of law, continuity of governance, treaty, debt.

Even the human rights oriented dissent in Israel (good people) are misguided in their fixation on condemnation rather than electoral and judicial efforts.

The peace track is relatively simple, well mapped out, solvable.

Stop screwing around people.

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