I know Gershon Baskin as an optimist. I sat next to him in a room full of pessimists who were veering towards “it’s the end of the two-state solution” and Gershon, almost alone, came up with an optimistic view. The following piece is so heavy that it dragged me down as I read, but in the end, the indefatigable Gershon says it’s not too late if both sides come to their senses, but finally, and let us not forget it, he is warning all of us. Violence is coming down the line. — Lilly
Encountering Peace: The stage is set for the final actBy GERSHON BASKINWe have bought into the myths that they have woven together to justify our inability to grasp at opportunities for real change and breakthroughs to peace.Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN was a bad one. I could explain that he was speaking to his own public after a war in which Palestinians were killed, and his people were angry. I could point out that throughout the world experts noted that the one real loser of the Gaza war was Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.It is also noteworthy that the Palestinian leader was backed into the corner of going to the United Nations with no apparent other choice, and that not doing so would have been the final death blow to his own political career. All of this is true, but Abbas could have still used the international podium for a different kind of speech that would have addressed the Israeli public positively and would have scored a lot more points for the cause of Palestine.
[Israeli] Ambassador Ron Prosor’s speech was also a bad speech, although not as bad as Abbas’.
Great speeches are those used to launch a new policy, to change consciousness, and to signal new opportunities. The Palestinian and Israeli UN speeches were old news, bad news and missed opportunities, once again.The cause that both sides should have addressed is ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated agreement that would provide security for both peoples and mutual recognition of the existence of two nation-states living side by side in peace. That could have been reality had the antagonism and threats surrounding the Palestinian move in the UN been replaced by mutual agreement to utilize the UN resolution as a stepping stone to renewed negotiations.A deal was on the table that entailed Israel accepting the resolution, Palestinian agreement not to take legal steps against Israel in the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court while both sides enter intensive ongoing negotiations on the two-states–for-two-peoples solution. The opportunity was lost and now the cycle of revenge has begun. …
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