Peace campaign could deliver Palestine to Palestinians
By Ghassan Michel Rubeiz
In recent weeks Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians have risen sharply. This new wave of terror comes after a relative period of calm and civic mobilization. It would be a shame if the last ten years of creative, bold and effective resistance were to be neutralized by a new wave of violence.
A comprehensive peace strategy will deliver Palestine to Palestinians. Doing absolutely nothing is better than making peace with one hand and war with another. Facing the occupation with silence is more powerful than expressing a mix of love and hate.
In the aftermath of the tragic events of Paris, Beirut and Sinai the world community will have less empathy for senseless violence. Stabbing an innocent civilian with a knife cannot be justified morally, and it is politically counterproductive. Each murder extends the life of Israel’s occupation.
It would take a spike of violence every few years for Israel to keep saying that Palestinians are never “ready” for peace. Murders are both felt and exploited as “confirmation” that Palestinian hatred of Israelis is “eternal.”
If Palestinians would listen to visionary Israel writers warning their people of the risk of continuing the occupation they might gain confidence in Palestine of the future: their national identity and their impressive bond with their land. Palestinians could sooner than expected turn the dynamics of power in their favor by uniting over a campaign of peaceful resistance.
Cooler heads in Israel are aware that Palestinians have solid rights to their territories. There are dozens of Israeli writers who shame their leaders daily for not taking the peace process seriously.
In a recent Haaretz commentary Bradely Burston argues that by holding on to Palestinian territories – occupied in 1967- Israelis look “stupid.” http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.685028Burston rightly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem a stumbling block for peace: “It is the settlement enterprise that runs the occupation. And … it is now the occupation which runs Israel.”
Israelis on the whole seem to be more critical of their own leaders than Palestinians. Many Israelis are receptive to the voice of peace among Palestinians. A number of Israeli peace groups are working side by side with their Palestinian counterparts for coexistence.
In 2005 Palestinian civil society started a campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. A global initiative of peaceful resistance has already emerged in response to this initiative. Momentum of concern about Palestinian plight is building. Israel feels diplomatic pressure from the European Union. A few academic associations have halted collaboration with Israeli researchers. Some labor unions and mainline churches in the west have withdrawn their investments from Israeli firms that do business with Israeli settlers.
Palestine has been gaining in diplomatic stature. It is now an associate member of the United Nations. Palestinians press the International criminal Court to take their case. Israel is extremely nervous about being charged with war crimes and legal liability for the occupation.
Attitudes on Israel’s occupation are changing even in the U.S. More Americans question unconditional support and foreign aid. Some in the Jewish American community is torn between loyalty to Israel and commitment to human rights.
Palestinian violence has declined over time and nonviolence is no longer seen as culturally inappropriate struggle. But despair is on the rise again. Discouraged, Palestinians no longer care through what formula they could be liberated? They would accept a two-state or a one-state scenario, as long as they live in security and dignity. Some are willing to live under Israeli rule, if treated as equal citizens.
By dissociating their struggle from violence and from extreme political Islam Palestinians would advance their cause. Reciprocally, Israel would have a better chance of negotiating peace under a secular rather than a Jewish state.