Monday, January 3, 2011

FPI 2011 Manifesto

FPI (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis)

The New Year, 2011 (John R. Kleinheksel Sr)

The New Year is a time for reassessment, re-energizing, retooling, and setting forth a vision for the future of our little movement, FPI. (Remember my Christmas Eve message? At least one FPI-Holland member thought it too “one-sided”).

The first draft of my New Year’s Eve message turned out to be an angry rant against Jewish and Christian “Zionism”, so I re-wrote it. In this re-write, I’m going to give place to (1) Jeff Halper (Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-ICAHD), who has just published what I believe to be compelling, guiding principles to resolve the present impasse. Then, (2) as a “person of faith” (a follower of Jesus, actually), I want to cast a vision of love as the only antidote to indifference, anger and “hatred” that is the real “enemy” to be overcome. Finally, (3) as an illustration of the “way forward”, I will cite how one Palestinian builder in the West Bank (Palestinian territory) is using Israeli companies (suppliers) to get things done (independent of the “peace process”).

Jeff Halper, Director of ICAHD, has suggestions for “how the conflict can be resolved” in his paper “Palestine, 2011”. They are worth repeating here.
. . . .[H]ow can the conflict be resolved? – is also easily answerable. I don’t mean entering into the one state/two state conundrum and deciding which option [is] best. Under certain circumstances both could work, and I can think of at least 3 or 4 other viable options as well, including my favorite, a Middle Eastern economic confederation. The Palestinian think tank Passia published a collection of twelve proposed solutions a few years ago. (I)t is not difficult to identify the essential elements of any solution. They are, in brief,

• A just, workable and lasting peace must be inclusive of the two peoples living in Palestine/Israel;

• Any solution must provide for a national expression of each people, which mitigates against one democratic state based on one person-one vote;

• It must provide economic viability to all the parties;

• No solution will work that is not based on human rights, international law and UN resolutions.

• The refugee issue, based on the right of return, must be addressed squarely.

• A workable peace must be regional in scope; it cannot be confined merely to Israel/Palestine; and

• A just peace must address the security concerns of all the parties and countries in the region.

Even though he doesn’t want to debate it, he clearly prefers a “two-state” solution. Israel has always insisted on its own “Jewish” (majority) state rather than a truly pluralistic, democratic state (one person, one vote). From the beginning, Palestinians have been deliberately and systematically dispossessed of “their land”. Yet we are all supposed to be working toward a two-state solution: two peoples, each with their own autonomy, living side by side. We’re still a long way away from that.

II A “CHRISTIAN” VISION FOR MOVING FORWARD (YOURS TRULY) The “peace process” stagnates because of entrenched attitudes. Each fears “the other” wants the whole enchilada. Israelis have a wary acceptance of the status quo (violence is “down” lately according to Shin Bet). Palestinians (for good reason) fear Israel wants total control. Both have a deep-seated anger against injustices perpetrated against them for at least 60 years and a settled conviction that the “other side” is intransigent and shares the most blame.

Muslims, Jews and Christians have suffered much through the centuries. “Persecution” continues to this very day, as mosques, synagogues and churches are bombed and violated. “People of faith” want to be validated, not violated. We become very defensive when someone appears to be imposing their religious views on us. “People of faith” should lead the way in showing respect to “the other”, taking the time to listen to personal accounts of faith journeys. We must find ways of being true to our “faith” while honoring the “faith” of others. Instead of adding to the divisions, we should show the way to new kinds of diversity and community in the midst of true differences. Responsible Muslims, Jews and Christians are now doing this, but we don’t hear enough about it.

The only antidote to indifference or “hatred” is love, the ability to care about someone else. Love is the only thing that can exorcise hate. It isn’t all that rare, even in Israel/Palestine, if the media would only give us more of the examples of people caring for people, living alongside each other. (The “Separation Barrier” is just that, enforcing isolation and separation between peoples!) I’ve been trying, especially lately, to give you more examples of Israelis and Palestinians overcoming barriers. People of faith declare that “God” is the inexhaustible Source of love. But we need to drink deeply from this well for us to be able to irrigate and nourish the dry, desolate desert of our time and place.
You will not be surprised to have me state my firm conviction that the “way” Jesus taught, lived and died for, (active, nonviolent resistance to wrong) is the “road map” out of the present morass. Jesus cared for the marginalized among his own people and enemies (like the Synagogue leader and the Roman military captain), caring for people in the surrounding “Gentile” territories. He broke through commonly accepted social, economic, political, religious and ethical barriers that kept people apart. (Ask for my paper on Jesus Transcends All Barriers).
At a crucial point in his ministry, he made a bold claim that if “anyone” accepted him and actually lived “his” way, then out of that person’s life would flow acts of justice and mercy that would water the desolate landscape and bring life out of death (John 7:37, 38). This is not a cheap ticket. As Dietrich BonhÖffer put it, When Jesus calls a person, he bids him come with him and die (paraphrase). As Paul put it in much of his correspondence, it’s being crucified with Jesus, dying to self, and being alive to “the other”; to “God” (the Great Other) and the neighbor (anyone in need).

The last words written in the “Christian” scriptures repeat the invitation to “anyone” to drink deeply from this life-giving “way” and be part of the “healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:1, 2, 17, echoing Psalm 63:1 - 5 and Isaiah 55: 1 - 7).

III AN EXAMPLE OF THE WAY FORWARD (BASHAR MASRI) I’m convinced we cannot look to “politicians” for leadership. They are taillights, not headlights, only followers of the cultural mores of their constituents. That is why WE have to make the changes on the ground for the politicians to take notice and begin instituting changes already happening. FPI will be part of a growing grass roots movement, actually many streams that are slowly coalescing, soon to overflow the banks. More and more people are breaking up hard-pack ground, watering newly plowed fields, planting seeds of mutual respect, watering relationships with acts of kindness and deeds of justice. (Our Catherine Deyo is applying to return to Palestine this summer to work among those quietly bringing about change).

A few days ago Doug Dicks (our liaison in the field), brought to light an AP news story that I want to share this New Year. Some background information is needed for the story to make sense. The Palestinians are now enforcing a “boycott” against Palestinians purchasing any products or services that originate from Israeli settlements in the West Bank (that part of the land they claim as their own).

Here’s the story:
Israeli companies to help build Palestinian city
RAMALLAH, West Bank – About 20 Israeli suppliers will help build the first modern Palestinian city in the West Bank but only after promising they will not use products or services from Israeli settlements, the project's developer said Tuesday.
The announcement angered the Jewish settlers, who accused the suppliers of caving in to an international boycott of settlement goods and businesses.
The West Bank city of Rawabi, going up 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Jerusalem, is a key part of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plans to lay the groundwork for a future Palestinian state, regardless of progress in peace talks.
The participation of Israeli companies in its construction is both an ironic twist on the heavy use of Palestinian laborers in building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and a powerful reminder of how much the 43 years of Israeli occupation have made the Palestinian economy reliant on Israel.

Project developer Bashar Masri told The Associated Press that he tries to use Palestinian suppliers whenever possible. But when necessary, he turns to Israeli firms on condition that products and services from any territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war — the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — are not used.

This is a simple example of how Palestinians and Israelis are working together to bring about change. Change is inevitable. It has happened. It is happening. It will happen. Not all change is for the better. But in it all we must pray and work (ora et labora) that it will be peaceful (evolutionary) change and not cataclysmic (violent) change.

There is such fear, such distrust, leading to deeper entrenchment in failed positions. There is “fear” that if the tide swings “in favor of” the Palestinian position, all hell will break loose and Palestinian “extremists” will wreck vengeance on Israel. Each side accuses the other of the rage, hatred and violence it refuses to see in its own heart and life.

Let’s be candid. This is often what happens in revolutions. The new powers-that-be beat up on the former authorities and inflict new oppression on what’s left of the country. No one wants this to happen, least of all me. It doesn’t have to happen that way!

FPI is working with organizations seeking to avoid such conflagration who are working to bring about peaceful change. This has happened (not without difficulty) in Ireland, South Africa, and Eastern European nations following the collapse of the Soviet Republic, to name only the obvious ones. Perpetuating the existing realities on the ground (land confiscation, home demolition, orchards uprooted, Bantustan existence enforced by the “Separation Wall”), is a “No Exit” position that will blow up in everybody’s faces.

We need to ask the White House and our representatives in Congress to listen to J Street, Americans for Peace Now, B’tsalem, Jewish Voice for Peace, The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition (ICOHD), Combatants for Peace, The Parents Family Circle, End the Occupation, and many others, as well as The American-Israeli Political Action Committee –(AIPAC) and their Christian Zionist advocates. And these are only the Jewish – based ones here in the US. There are many other Christian Palestinian – based groups that are also working to break down entrenched barriers (SABEEL, Musalaha, the Mar Elias Schools, Seeds of Peace, and The Holy Land Trust, to name only a few).

In my view, we have to stop demonizing “the other”, claiming implacable “hatred” as an excuse to continue failed policies of the past. Heaven help us validate each other’s existence and find room in our hearts for “the other”. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., If we keep taking an eye for an eye, the whole world soon will become blind.

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