Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Building A Palestinian Society

A Durable Peace

In an article in Tablet, Richard Landes says that for peace to be possible between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the leadership of the Palestinians have to show some positive measures, good will if you will,  particularly as it relates to their own Palestinian refugees. There are some uncomfortable truths that need airing. That their living in refugee camps for more than 60 years has not benefited the Palestinian People; that the current peace process is not going anywhere; and that this situation needs a viable and just solution that reduces the power of politics.

Prof. Landes lays out the problem: "[T]he Arab leadership chose to herd Arab refugees into prison camps so that they could serve as a symbol of Israeli crimes." The solution?: free them. His statement is as simple as it is right. It is not the only initiative that will show both Israelis and Palestinians that peace is possible, but it is a very good first step.
So, here’s my proposal to those who somehow feel we must revive the peace procespoliticss now, before it’s too late. Call for the Palestinians to show their good intentions, not toward the Israelis, but toward their own people. Get those “refugees” out of the prison camps into which they have been so shamefully consigned for most of a century.
Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Territory A, under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes. Let us all participate in turning the powers of Palestinian ingenuity away from manufacturing hatred, fomenting violence, and building villas for the rich and powerful, while the refugees live in squalor as a showcase of Israeli cruelty, and start to do good for a people victimized by their own leadership.
To take this position, so aligned with progressive values, however, we would have to confront two obstacles. First, overcoming our immense reluctance to criticize and make demands on the Palestinians. That would also mean we’d also have to renounce the impulse to attack as racists or Islamophobes those making the demands. We also have to consider, especially true for journalists in the field, the possibility that we’re intimidated, afraid to criticize people with so prickly a collective ego. Second, it would mean overcoming the widespread hunger for stories of “Jews behaving badly.” After all, if it weren’t for the appetite for moral Schadenfreude, the whole idea of pinning the miserable fate of the Palestinian refugees on Israel rather than on their Arab jailors would never have taken hold in the first place.

This is undeniably true. The question is how to implement such a process, which many will say is not impossible but difficult politically.  True, it will at first take courage on the part of the moderates within the Palestinian leadership to agree to go ahead with such a proposal; they will need encouragement and resources from the West, as the article points out. Even so, given what's at stake here, it's a proposal worth considering.

You can read the rest of the article at [Tablet]


  1. In addition to giving the Palestinian refugees homes, one must give them citizenship in whatever country they are living. Jordan has done this, but other Arab countries have not.
    Egypt, in particular, should give the residents of Gaza both Egyptian citizenship and Palestinian citizenship--Gaza, after all, is an independent country. Gazans should be allowed to move to whatever part of Egypt they choose. If one day the West Bank gains independence, they would then have the option of moving back to Gaza or to the West Bank.


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