Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2012
Israel and Palestine: Man in Search of Humanity
By Mahboob A Khawaja
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 10, 2012
Despite his forcible eviction from his family home in Jerusalem, he was a keen proponent of peaceful co-existence. No wonder, few on both sides of the conflicting time zones ever listened to the voices of reason. Israelis appear to be diverse in their ethnic, social and cultural composition as they originate from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, Baltic regions and other locations whereas, Palestinians being from Palestine enjoin cultural homogeneity but lack of systematic political unity until now how to address the multiple issues in dealing with their freedom and future.
Despite diversity, Israelis enjoin unity of purpose, political system and
governance and are hardworking and productive people to protect their
nationhood and identity by overwhelmingly military means. Both face the
challenge of future-making - how to be rational in thinking and behaviors to
cope with unusual animosity and achieve normalcy. At issues are the
end of Israeli occupation of certain parts of Palestine and establishment of
an independent State of Palestine and demarcation of the borders as of the
1967 to facilitate co-existence between the Two States in the Arab Middle
East. During the 1967 war, Israel as usual a military powerful state
occupied large chunk of the land which Palestinians claim for their
Now, for over 21 years, both parties have held direct-indirect peace talks but always ending up in failure as Israel is unwilling to end the occupation. Israel has powerful political lobbyists working in Washington and Western Europe to show indifference to global concerns. Since their peace talks and the Oslo agreement, Israelis and Palestinians have come to realize that military absolutism will not pave the way for peaceful resolution of their standings. They do need face to face dialogue to bridge the differences.
America holds a decisive role in making this peace deal come true as did President Carter and President Clinton in the past. Perhaps President Obama if serious in peacemaking should assign former President Clinton, President Carter and George Mitchell to have resourceful team people in a time frame to finalize the peace agreement between the PLO and Israel. The other part of the problems rest with the Arab geopolitics. To enhance peacemaking, America and Israel need a formidable challenge, be it a moral, political or intellectual. Oil exporting enriched Arab leaders do not offer any substantial political presence either to America or to Israel to straighten out the much old-fashioned militarized politics.
Arab rulers are viewed as paper dummies, camel jockeys, not worthy of any political significance. Professor Fouad Ajami spelled it out rationally: “Arab leaders are worst than being useless creatures.” Arab rulers lack moral and intellectual leadership, they operate in closed circuit, never open to listening and learning and have no public institutions to think or to analyze the prevalent facts of human affairs what is rational or practical in dealing with the State of Israel. Religiously Arabs have strong bonds to Judaism and the teachings of Moses; most often these unknown factors remain unknown in articulating the national policies and workable alternatives to complex problems.
Global politics is not one-way street but combination of known and
unknown ideas and ideals to tackle situations of adversities and conflicting
interests. Not so, to the Arab leadership, they lack proactive and educated
people to come up with new and innovative strategies. Often Arab people in
streets are more knowledgeable and have active passion for change and new
leadership to harmonize the affairs in global politics and making of a
different kind of future. But the leaders live in palaces, not with people
to know the realities of life. The Arab masses have prominent role to change
the absurd politics and carve-up a more favorable and sustainable political
future. To do so, the tribal cult Arab leaders would need a jolt as it
happened recently to replace Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Abdullah of Yemen, Ali
of Tunisia, Qaddafi and very soon to Bashar al–Assad in Syria.
There are historical gaps in thinking and understanding of each others viewpoint, cultural norms, common human values to know and understand one another without agreeing or disagreeing, just being open to listening and learning - the way to built a sustainable culture of THINKING to co-exist. Both need enhanced public communications across the cultural norms and businesses. Israelis are not going anywhere; Palestinians cannot be buried alive by Israeli bombardments on Gaza or elsewhere.
Increasing Israeli military check posts across Palestine and
self-determined barbed wire marked frontiers remind the mankind of the
Nazi’s political culture - the Jewish holocaust experience, is it a replica
of the history that Israelis want to show to the 21st century informed
mankind. Surely, their kind of liberal democracy is in desperate need of
redefining. Palestinians need new proactive and intelligent leadership to
organize the unity of purpose and be able to conduct rational negotiations,
be it with the Israelis or the global communities asserting political
“Dear Mr. President,
My younger brother was an early believer in you. He worked for your Senate campaign. he was working on your campaign again when he died suddenly, a brilliant, energetic 29 year old, dead in his tracks. You know this. You called my parents.
You may not know that after his sudden passing, many of his friends quit their jobs, moved, changed their lives to continue working on your campaign in his memory. …Until yesterday. Mr. President, when the bombs began raining on Gaza again and you reiterated Israel’s “right to defend itself”, I took that sticker off my jacket. Later, you called Prime Minister Netanyahu and asked him to “use restraint,” as though he were a glutton at a feast, rather than an elected official of a powerful military nation, using your own country’s weaponry to engage in a one-sided assault. Mr. President, you are the most powerful man in the world. You do not need to politely request anything of Mr. Netanyahu; you can stop him by ending U.S. military aid to Israel until Israel complies with international and U.S. law…… We voted for you. We fund-raised for you. We do not want to watch you pretend like it is for us that you allow these massacres to continue with our money. My brother would be disappointed to see your impotence in the face of continuing Israeli aggression shortly after such a sweeping re-election victory. I am still proud of him. I am still proud of all of the Americans that worked so hard to deliver you this re-election. But I am so hurt and ashamed to watch you use restraint when you are the only person with the power to stop this massacre. Mr. President, I am barely over 5 feet tall and I am not afraid of AIPAC; why are you?”
Out of desperation and purely for short-terms political gains, Israeli PM Netanyahu and other politicians are using aggressive means and provocative practices to plan more illegal settlements on the occupied areas. Strange as is that new Jewish settlers can come from all over the world to build homes on the stolen land but Palestinians refugees cannot return to their own homes and land occupied by other people.
The global humanity is neither dumb nor blind to know the facts on the ground. These moves simply cause more conflicts and disasters, not helpful to make peace between divergent parties in the conflict. Recently, former President Carter made it known that Israelis are not interested in peace or establishment of independent Sate of Palestine. Israelis and Palestinians are overwhelmingly emotionally charged people, often lacking rational mode of thinking compatible to the global political affairs. Israel is a strong military power, have nuclear weapons and backing of the US bought politicians, yet, they cannot impose their will on others nor foresee promising future. Palestinians have natural bonds to their ancestral homes and lands and an unconquerable will power to encounter all adversities.
Both parties must THINK ANEW for a promising Future to co-exist. This is what late Professor Edward Said dreamed of throughout his life. He wanted to go back to Jerusalem, his ancestral home taken by force by the Zionist occupation. After the cruelty of the 2WW, mankind is acutely aware that wars and killings do not determine the future of nations; they destroy all possibilities of rethinking and re-living together as dignified human beings, the most intelligent creatures of God to live on Earth. History cannot be ignored for its role to teach us the consequences of sadistic warmongering - often perpetrated by the few but victimizing the whole of the mankind. Time and opportunities do exist for serious thoughts and consideration on both sides to reach a peaceful conclusion for sustainable future.
Global community is not haphazard but mindful of all the developments
taking shapes and forms. What happens between Israel and Palestinians will
have direct ramifications to the whole world. Would reason and truth prevail
over wrong thinking and wrong actions? Would the two proponent of Abrahmic
monotheistic faith be able to co-exist in the Middle East? Would rationality
replace animosity for the good of all mankind? Would the new generations of
educated and intelligent leaders on both sides view the future as promising
to make peace rather than wars? Would the Israeli occupation end soon and
Palestinian be able to establish an independent State of Palestine? If they
continue to follow the past dead-ended polices and practices, what
narrations would the story tellers compile for the future children:
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