Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Myth of "Resuming Negotiations"

The Myth of “Resuming Negotiations”

By John Kleinheksel Sr, FPI, (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis)

I The Current State of Affairs

The current strategy to get both sides to the negotiating table (in the present cultural environment) won’t work. And here’s why. The Israeli/Jewish state doesn’t believe in negotiations. They are wedded to the belief that all of the land belongs to Jews and must not be shared with the “Other”. Hard as it may be, it is this cultural constant that has to be changed.

The Western press keeps repeating that the HAMAS charter calls for the dismantling of the Zionist/Israeli state. What is not widely known is that the platform/charter of the present Likud administration refuses to consider the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state.

The Likud Party Charter states:
a. The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.
b. Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem.
c. The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River.
d. The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.


Ariel Sharon did “give up” Gaza, but it is so controlled by fences and checkpoints, it’s a virtual prison.

As Stephen Sizer says in his blog: The recent Palestinian UN bid and (the) Palestinian acceptance to UNESCO has once again put the “Peace Process” front and center. Listening to Netanyahu and the U.S. Administration, getting the Israelis and Palestinians “back to the negotiating table” is the utmost priority for a lasting peace deal. Although Netanyahu plays the part, the details of his party platform need to be taken into account as a “peace partner” to show the reality behind the circus. So, while Netanyahu wants no pre-conditions from the Palestinians going into “negotiations” his party charter and ideology say otherwise.
Amos Schocken, the publisher of Haaretz (a progressive voice in Israel), wrote an editorial on November 25, 2011. He makes the case that all recent Israeli leaders are basically following the principles of the Gush Emunim, a religious movement that claims God decrees all of the land for the Jewish state. Here is his shocking expose:

The strategy that follows from the ideology of Gush Emunim is clear and simple: It perceives of the Six-Day War as the continuation of the War of Independence [1948], both in terms of seizure of territory, and in its impact on the Palestinian population. According to this strategy, the occupation boundaries of the Six-Day War are the borders that Israel must set for itself. And with regard to the Palestinians living in that territory - those who did not flee or were not expelled - they must be subjected to a policy that will encourage their flight, eventuate in their expulsion, deprive them of their rights, and bring about a situation in which those who remain will not be even second-class citizens, and their fate will be of interest to no one. They will be like the Palestinian refugees of the War of Independence; that is their desired status. As for those who are not refugees, an attempt should be made to turn them into "absentees" [to better dispossess them]. Unlike the Palestinians who remained in Israel after the War of Independence, the Palestinians in the territories should not receive Israeli citizenship, owing to their large number, but then this, too, should be of interest to no one.
The ideology of Gush Emunim springs from religious, not political motivations. It holds that Israel is for the Jews, and it is not only the Palestinians in the territories who are irrelevant: Israel's Palestinian citizens are also exposed to discrimination with regard to their civil rights and the revocation of their citizenship.


There are competing religious-based fundamentalisms at work in Israel/Palestine. They are seemingly mutually exclusive, i.e., they can’t both be fully implemented. Israel rejects Islamic fundamentalism (whether by Hamas or Iran), yet fails to admit its own religion-inspired fundamentalism.

II Where We Go from Here

So what should American Christians (who have their own brands of fundamentalism) do to work for mutual respect and the rights of all people there?
A good place to start is with the Christians (and Muslims) who have suffered under the occupation for decades and decades. What are they saying? What are they asking? For this we turn to the Kairos Palestine document, composed by Christians in 2009, addressed to themselves, to Muslims, Israelis, Americans and people of other nations.

In a section on “resistance” (4.2), the Kairos document says, we must resist evil of whatever kind. Love is seeing the face of God in every human being. Every person is my brother or my sister. However, seeing the face of God in everyone does not mean accepting evil or aggression on their part. Rather, this love seeks to correct the evil and stop the aggression (4.2.1).

When we review the history of the nations, we see many wars and much resistance to war by war, to violence by violence. The Palestinian people have gone the way of the peoples, particularly in the first stages of its struggle with the Israeli occupation. However, it also engaged in peaceful struggle, especially during the first Intifada. We recognize that all peoples must find a new way in their relations with each other and the resolution of their conflicts. The ways of force must give way to the ways of justice (4.2.2). [Resistance] must find human ways that engage the humanity of the enemy. Seeing the image of God in the face of the enemy means taking up positions in the light of this vision of active resistance to stop the injustices. . . (Kairos Palestine, 4.2.3).

Christians call Muslims to reject fanaticism and extremism (5.4.1). The call to Jews? Even though we have fought one another in the recent past . . . we are able to love and live together. We can organize our political life, with all its complexity, according to the logic of this love and its power (5.4.2).

To the world, Palestinian Christians say: We condemn all forms of racism, whether religious or ethnic, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia . . . . We call on you to [speak the truth] with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. . . .[and we] see boycotts and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence. . . . (6.3).

Even progressive Jews like Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun) argue a new consciousness is needed to avoid the exclusive blaming of one side or the other. In his recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, he makes the case that both Jews and Palestinians suffer from a societal form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A generation of healers is needed to deal with societal PTSD:

On the one hand, we need a massive campaign of consciousness-raising to challenge the dominant worldview that people care only for themselves and will never be there for each other . . . . On the other hand, we need individual and small group interventions to help people, one by one, overcome the depression and splitting that keep people trapped in self-and-other-destructive patterns of behavior. On this level, the first thing we need to do is created circumstances in which people can feel safe to talk freely about the traumas that they’ve experienced to someone who will help them feel safe and genuinely heard and who will acknowledge their pain (p. 277).
Rabbi Lerner even supports what he calls a “softer version” of the BDS movement (boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions). This softer version supports the right of Israel to exist, yet urges people not to buy from companies that produce consumer goods in the West Bank settlements or produce weapons or other equipment for the Israeli military to use in the West Bank and Gaza (p. 328).

One of the final sections of his book deals with questions and answers. Question: Don’t the Palestinians really want to destroy the State of Israel? Aren’t they just using the camouflage of a ‘peace process’ to build up their military strength until they get the chance to do this? Answer: There are now, and will continue to be . . . a significant minority of people in each community that aspires to see the full elimination of the other side. But maximalist fantasies have typically yielded to new realities in the Middle East. If the majority of Palestinians and Israelis are living in their own secure states with democratic and human-rights-observing governments and with economies providing a decent standard of living for everyone, those troubling aspirations to destroy the Other will become more like the Jewish prayer books’ call for the restoration of animal sacrifices on the grounds of the Jews’ ancient Temple—not yet given up, but nevertheless not likely to be made the cornerstone of any but a small and manageable fringe (p. 379).

III Countering Gush Emunim Ideology in the US Congress and the White House
All Christians of an anti-Fundamentalist bent should join forces to counter the pernicious influence of religious fundamentalism whether in Palestine, Israel or America. When we listen further to Amos Schocken, we understand how deeply the Gush Emunim ideology has wormed its way into American politics, the “religious right” and the US House and Senate. This is especially true in the Republican Party but is also true of the Democrats and our President. Here is the continuation of Mr. Schocken’s op-ed:

Since the Six-Day War, there has been no other group in Israel with the ideological resilience of Gush Emunim, and it is not surprising that many politicians have viewed that ideology as a means for realizing personal political ambitions . . . .(among them, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu).
This ideology views the creation of an Israeli apartheid regime as a necessary tool for its realization . . . .

This ideology has enjoyed immense success in the United States, of all places. President George H.W. Bush was able to block financial guarantees to Israel because of the settlements established by the government of Yitzhak Shamir . . . .Now, though, candidates for the Republican Party's presidential nomination are competing among themselves over which of them supports Israel and the occupation more forcefully. Any of them who adopt the approach of the first President Bush will likely put an end to their candidacy.

Whatever the reason for this state of affairs - the large number of evangelicals affiliated with the Republican party, the problematic nature of the West's relations with Islam, or the power of the Jewish lobby, which is totally addicted to the Gush Emunim ideology - the result is clear: It is not easy, and may be impossible, for an American president to adopt an activist policy against Israeli apartheid.

Friends, we have work to do. Work to change the culture and environment. We will be vulnerable to “the “other”. We will engage “enemies”, and be open to self-criticism and the view-points of other participants. Healing and peace will not come until we admit hurts we have caused and that we have experienced.
We will blunt the influence of the Jewish and American “religious right” that almost totally permeates the current culture and discourse in both Israel and America right now. Here are resources, people and groups seeking genuine change:

Read the novel, Mornings in Jenin, Susan Abulhawa, does for Palestinians what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan

Read the book, Kairos for Palestine, Rifat Odeh Kassis (Badayl/Alternatives Press), www.kairospalestine.ps

Check regularly with Mark Braverman, American Jewish activist who supports land rights and peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians, www.markbraverman.org

Read, Embracing Israel/Palestine: a Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East, Rabbi Michael Lerner, (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA) www.tikkun.org

Peace Now (The American chapter of Peace Now) www.peacenow.org.il

Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) www.cmep.org

Holy Land Trust (Sami Awad in Bethlehem) www.holylandtrust.org

Gush Shalom (Uri Avnery and Adam Keller) www.gushshalom.org

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Jeff Halper, www.ichahd.org

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), www.isna.net/interfaith

Challenging Christian Zionism, www.christianzionism.org

The Israeli/Palestinian Mission Network, www.israelpalestinianmissionnetwork.org

4 comments:

Father Dave said...

Thank you for bringing to light the Likud Party charter!

You are entirely right - we are all very aware of the problems with Hamas' charter (which indeed needs to be changed if there is to be a lasting peace) but I don't think many of us realised that the Likud charter was equally problematic!

LSG said...

The problem comes from the mistaken idea that both cultures are good and have equal value.This is not the case. arab/moslem culture is intrinsically evil and should be destroyed. If good in the world is going to suvive, evil must be fought. as Ed said, the only thing needed for evil win is for good men to do nothing. LSG

Klaus Kitschke said...

Is there an English version of the Likud chapter? I was intensely searching for it, but all the links I was able to find are broken.

Klaus Kitschke said...

Is there an English version of the Likud chapter? I was intensely searching for it, but all the links I was able to find are broken.