Once again, we’ve watched as Israel launched itself into yet another of its periodic efforts to ‘defend’ itself by seeking to kill all of the Palestinians in Gaza who have either killed Israeli Jews with missile fire, or have helped the militants in their efforts to kill Jews, or have maybe been considering the possibility of killing Jews in the future, or who have simply been hanging out around the missile launchers (e.g., family members).
These ‘lashing out’ responses to Palestinian attacks always provide Israel’s civilian population with a certain amount of short-term ‘satisfaction’, satisfaction that will last for at least another six months or so. But if the Israeli people took some time to think their situation through from a long-term perspective, it might occur to them that the ‘gut instinct’ response is actually a very stupid approach for them to embrace, as a people, from one generation to the next.
Over the long run, it just hasn’t worked. They’ve embraced the ‘muscular’ approach for over 60 years and that is how many years it has failed to bring about lasting peace and security. Something else must be done to make the killing stop. Something other than simply preparing for the next ‘beatdown’ that you fully expect to be delivering again sometime in the future.
One would think that the Israelis might have put some serious thought into imagining what a future Lasting Peace would look like. (By a lasting peace, I am necessarily talking about one that even the hawks in Israel would find acceptable and worthy of trust.)
I suspect that if they were to ponder this question at length, it would occur to them that if they want to achieve a lasting peace, it is essential that they find a way to change the feelings that the Palestinians currently have toward the Israeli population in Palestine, from very negative to very positive.
Feelings of hatred, for example, would need to be replaced with feelings of gratitude and good will. Appreciative smiles must replace the furtive looks that only barely hide feelings of fear and loathing. If this does not happen, how will it ever be possible for the Israeli people to feel secure in their homes?
This is the supreme, ultimate key to constructing a peace agreement that could actually succeed in ending the conflict between Arab and Jew. Any ‘agreement’ that Palestinian leaders could be coerced into accepting through muscular diplomacy and international pressure is guaranteed to fail if it does not replace the feelings of hatred that the Palestinians currently feel with feelings of gratitude.
Isn’t that something that we can all agree on?
What, if anything, could be done to bring about such a wondrous change in the hearts of the Palestinian people? That is THE key question that the Israeli people need to start asking themselves.
My advice is that the Israelis try an approach that they have never really considered before: EXTREME GENEROSITY. You’ll want to keep in mind that I’m not talking about offers that the Israelis might think are very generous; I’m talking about proposals that the Palestinians would perceive as very generous.
In order for the Palestinian people to ‘let go’ of all the bitterness and resentment they feel now, in order for them to start feeling within their hearts some positive feelings of appreciation toward the Israelis, it is absolutely essential that they be able to walk away from the negotiations table feeling as though they had won a tremendous victory.
They need to end up with a settlement that is so incredibly generous, and so filled with face-saving Israeli [and American] concessions, they won’t be able to contain their joy at their good fortune. They need to feel as though they have won a great victory and their Muslim sympathizers around the world need to see that the Palestinians are delighted with their good fortune.
What the Israeli people need to understand is that this is the kind of Peace Settlement they are going to want the Palestinians to end up with because it is the only kind of settlement that is going to give them the Lasting Peace—-the freedom from fear—-that they yearn for.
They need to change the hearts of the Palestinians with something dramatic. The Israelis will know that they have finally achieved true peace when they start to see smiles on the faces of the Palestinian people, smiles that reflect authentic feelings of gratitude and friendliness toward them.
It’s your choice, Israel. Endless war, with the likelihood of nuclear devastation in the future, or a true and lasting peace with your neighbors. What will the Israeli people get for the high price they might ultimately have to pay?
Only their “Right to Exist” from the only people who can legitimately grant them that right, the people who used to own the land before Israel’s founding fathers took it from them at gunpoint. Yes, the Palestinians will be willing to grant the Israelis the right to inhabit and rule the land they once owned, but only if they feel as though they have been handsomely compensated for it.
All of the hatred that half the world currently feels toward Israel would come to an end. The Israeli people may feel as though their founding fathers achieved a great thing when they resurrected the state of Israel from the dustbin of history, but they really haven’t achieved a thing, yet. Existing at the cost of being constantly hated is not much of an achievement.
The Israeli people have an opportunity right now to amaze the world with a dramatic and historically unprecedented move to change the deeply resentful feelings that their current enemies have toward them. What a gift that would be for the children of Israel…a future that is cleansed of their fear of future annihilation. That is what the Israeli people can achieve for themselves if they do something like this:
Agree to a compensation package that overwhelms the Palestinians with its generosity. Give them [virtually] everything they’ve been demanding for the past forty years plus a little bit more. Pre-1967 borders. Jerusalem becomes either an international city, or a multi-capital city.
If it becomes supremely important to Israeli negotiators to turn some of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank into Israeli land, then the Palestinians must be given twice as much pre-1967 Israeli land in compensation. The way to win the good will of the Palestinian people is by shocking them with your ‘new leaf’ commitment to astounding generosity.
The Israelis need to get over the urge to get best deal they can, by bargaining ‘tough’ with the Palestinians and threatening them with more pain if they don’t give the Israelis the things that they want. Instead, they need to stun the world with an amazing display of good will and a generous spirit.
On top of all the territorial concessions, throw in a huge amount of cash at the Palestinians. Make them feel as though they had all just “won the lottery.” Would $30,000 per family be enough? $50,000? $80,000? Pour an equally generous amount of money into the construction of new businesses, industries, and a modern infrastructure in the new Palestine.
Where would all the money for this come from?
Well, if we were to take all the money that Israel and the United States are now spending on their Wars on Terror and then solicit big contributions from Europe, Japan, China, and the rich Arab states, it should not be difficult to put together a pot of around $500 billion, which should be more than enough to overwhelm approximately 5 million Palestinians with a feeling of great pride and satisfaction.
They would finally have Peace With Honor.
There is one more thing we could give them that would guarantee the success of the Extreme Generosity approach. It is actually something that Israel cannot give them, but the United States can. It is also something that would not cost the American taxpayers a cent.
What might this magical ‘something’ be? A formal admission by the United States government that we had been wrong all along in getting ourselves involved in the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Why would we do such a thing? Because it is the simple truth.
Mistakes made by American leaders in decades past are ultimately to blame for the fear that Americans currently have of one day suffering a nuclear terrorist attack. It was good old Harry S. Truman who first got us involved in the Arab-Israeli dispute and it was his decision in 1948 that put us on the side of the Israelis.
At the time, the American people were feeling a lot of sympathy for the Jewish people after the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, so it was easy for them to consent to a plan to ‘give them a homeland’ where they would be free of persecution. Unfortunately, everyone in the press conveniently ignored the fact that the land the U.N. decided to give to the Jews happened to belong to someone else.
The U.N.’s proposal to grant the Zionists a new homeland out of Palestinian lands was not a popular one with some deeply religious Jews, a fact that most Americans are currently unaware of.
To understand how the Palestinians see the creation of the state of Israel, imagine a similar thing happening here, in America. What if the Indians who lived in New Jersey 300 years ago fled by boat to Europe instead of becoming assimilated into the developing American culture? What if, over the years, those Indians educated themselves and kept their sense of ‘nationhood’ alive and maintained a dream of some day returning to their homeland?
And what if they started emigrating back to New Jersey in big numbers maybe 75 years ago and made it clear that they intended to get their land back? What if the majority of European nations supported their cause and sent them military hardware and financial support? How do you think the modern inhabitants of New Jersey would feel about the claim that the land really belonged to the Indians because they had once lived there 300 years ago?
I’m pretty sure I know how most property owners in New Jersey would respond. Outraged? You bet. Militant? You can count on it, especially if the seizure took place at gunpoint, as it did in Israel in 1948. The truth is that it is impossible for the United States to justify its support for Israel while declaring loudly to the world that it is outrageous and immoral for one country to invade and annex another.
It’s theft at gunpoint, any way you look at it. This is why the Palestinians and their Muslim sympathizers are so crazy angry at the United States, because they see the incredible hypocrisy of our political leaders and are outraged that we do not see the injustice and sympathize with their plight.
Yes, it’s true. Our sympathy for the Jews—-a good thing—-is what ultimately led us to make an incredibly stupid decision to approve an illegal and immoral act. Maybe we weren’t guilty of malevolence, but we are nevertheless paying the price now for the moral/intellectual lapse we had back then.
Since Nine Eleven, we have been spending hundreds of billions of dollars on Homeland Security and on the Iraq & Afghanistan wars and we will be spending trillions more in the future if we cannot get ourselves on the right side of history. Does this mean that we are supposed to start hating the Israeli Jews now? Of course not. But no longer can we play favorites.
Americans have become accustomed to seeing the Israelis as their friends. I’m not recommending that we just toss that aside.
When a parent sees his child being chased by some angry adults who live at the far end of the neighborhood, he will naturally assume that his child is being victimized and will threaten the pursuers if they do not cease chasing his child.
But if he listens to the adults and finds out that his child stole something from them and damaged their property, he will not abandon the child, but will reprimand him and insist that he do the right thing to make amends.
If he is a Wise Parent, he will feel a little embarrassed, but he will not hesitate to scold his child. He will recognize that an opportunity exists for his child to learn some important lessons about life through acts of atonement.
But if he is a Foolish Parent, he will ignore all evidence that is presented to him of his child’s guilt and will accuse the angry adults of ‘just hating’ his child for no good reason. He will focus, instead, on being loyal to his family members and trying to defend them from all outsiders, no matter what they might have done to earn the antipathy of strangers.
For 60 years, America has been a Foolish Parent re: the Arab-Israeli dispute. Because our ‘child’ has always been in the wrong, we now have a lot of people around the world hating us for our moral hypocrisy, who see us as an arrogant enemy of Justice.
We can bring an end to the Arab-Israeli Feud if we would stop being foolish and start being Wise Parents, instead. We have a moral responsibility to try to talk the Israelis into doing the one thing that is going to bring true peace to their land.
For Israel, it is actually quite simple. They are not going to get True Peace without Happy Palestinians and they are not going to get Happy Palestinians unless the Palestinians are able to achieve a negotiations settlement that is ‘unbelievable’ in its magnitude.
Israel can give them that and still keep at least 90% of what they had in 1966. They will have to give up a little, but they will have won the biggest prize of them all, the one that has eluded them for sixty plus years: the acceptance of their ‘right to exist’ by the Palestinians.
When the Palestinians grant them this right, then the rest of the Muslim world will grant it also if face is saved with the gifts of extreme generosity and the United States apologizes to the Muslims of the world for mis-reading their grievance. If/when the United States does this, there won’t be a dry eye in all of Islam. The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ will be over. Peace will have finally arrived.
For the Israelis, they would not only finally have peace and friendly relations with the Palestinians, but would also the respect and admiration of ‘the rest of the world’ [i.e., the world that is not America or Western Europe].
The Story of Modern Israel in the history would no longer be one of colonization and repression and military aggression, but one of a people who decided to transform themselves, who amazed the world with their collective decision to embrace humility and apologize to their former victims. A people who share an earnest desire to convince those victims that they can be good after all is said and done.
Yes, President Obama, it is true that all peoples may very well have a ‘right’ to defend themselves, but sometimes it is really, really stupid to defend yourself in ways that only ensure that you will continue to be surrounded by enemies who hate you and who would like to see you die.