The editor of this Jewish community newspaper in Winnipeg, Canada has gone out on a limb to ask for and publish an op-ed from me on the peace process. If you are so inclined, please click on the link below and leave a comment on their site, especially if you are Jewish and even more so if you are a Jewish Israeli.
Moving beyond preaching to the converted,
Palestinian Sam Bahour's take on the peace process
Friday, 24 September 2010 20:00
The following piece by Sam Bahour is offered as a commentary by a Palestinian whose name was recommended to us by one of our readers. Bahour has previously written for Ha’aretz newspaper. He is interested in reading reaction to the following piece and developing a dialogue with Canadian Jews. If you would like to respond to Bahour, please send an e-mail to The Jewish Post & News: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By SAM BAHOUR
As a Palestinian-American father of two daughters living in Al-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah, no one on this earth more than I wish for Palestinians and Israelis to reach a lasting peace agreement. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of Israeli parents feel the same; I know my Israeli friends do. I would even expect that many of those Israeli settler parents who live on those military garrisons of confiscated lands that pepper West Bank hilltops feel the same too. But wishing in a vacuum artificially raises expectations that hurt even harder every time they come crashing to the ground to meet reality.
The facts on the ground are bitter, very bitter. To extract the region from never-ending turmoil to that of permanent stability and normalcy much more self-reflection will need to be made by all the parties involved.
I’ll start with my own side, the Palestinians. In 1948 Palestinians were dispossessed from 78 percent of our homeland, 60 percent of Palestinians are internally displaced or dwell in refugee camps just hours from their homes and properties, 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza survive under siege conditions, hundreds of thousands have been illegally detained or assassinated by Israel, and the economy is micro-managed by a foreign military that is underwritten by donor countries. The Palestinian negotiating team claims to be a legitimate leadership but there is not one functioning institutional body that can genuinely claim to be the source of their self-defined legitimacy.
For its part, Israel is not in much better of a position. Its government is comprised of a toxic coalition that mixes neo-conservatism with Jewish fundamentalism and lives on the verge of daily collapse. The Israeli society is using the word fascism more and more to depict the direction of Israeli politics. During the last few years, past Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and current Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak both spoke of “Apartheid” as being the direction in which Israel is heading. Israel’s four decade military occupation has corrupted Israeli society to the bone; the military itself was one of the first victims but the society at large has not been spared. The settler enterprise has Israel in a bear hug that has the power to bring serious chaos to all walks of Israeli life. The ultra-orthodox community is hugging Israel from the other side with the same vengeance. To save Israel from itself Israel needs a lasting agreement more than any time since its founding.
Finally, and most damaging to the prospects of peace is the United States. Never being a neutral mediator and always using Israel for its own geostrategic plans the U.S. refuses to release its monopoly on the Palestinian-Israel issue. While it arms, funds and diplomatically covers for one side, it murmurs words of peace out of half of its mouth to the other.
The U.S. has tremendous leverage that could be used if it was truly serious about bringing the region closer to peace, but ultimately, it will be the Palestinians and Israelis that must come to bear the consequences of an end to the conflict. That quest for an end of conflict will be served up on a platter of international law or on a battlefield of the law of the jungle.
Illusionary peace negotiations can only lead to a hallucinated peace.
Sam is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Co. (PALTEL) and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University and was the University’s treasurer. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and a founding Board member of the community foundation Dalia Association. Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. Sam is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians and may be reached at email@example.com and his work may be found at www.epalestine.com.
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