This is a new position that has been in the making for a few years. Ari Shavit articulates it in Ha’aretz in “The New Peace“: that a full, formal peace has not worked out (primarily in Shavit’s view because the Palestinians have rejected it) and that a non-violent form of coexistence must be regarded as the “new peace.” I’ve invited a number of friends and colleagues to respond.— Lilly
Their comments are included below:
1. Writer and veteran Americans for Peace Now activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin:
But what does the new peace look like and how would it be achieved and would both sides participate with equal commitment and what happens to the Islamic forces in the meantime and how many new “facts on the ground” will be established in the settlements in the meantime? The article ends just before the hard part.
2. Lesley Hazelton, a liberal British-American Jewish writer, who has lived in Israel:
Part of the problem is the idealistic way we use the word peace — images of skies full of doves and balloons, former enemies hugging each other in tears, calling each other brother and sister etc. In other words, we tend to have an all-or-nothing image of peace. A Hallmark-card image. Maybe we can start with people not killing each other, even if they don’t like not killing each other. Maybe we can start with no-war. After all, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty has held, despite everything, for over thirty years, and there’s certainly no love lost on either side (it even survived being inaugurated with the full Hallmark-card treatment, Nobels and all). I think of England and Germany. Or Japan and the US. Perhaps peace is the uncomfortable accommodation nations make with each other in order to get on with the business of pursuing their own self-interest. — L.
3. Sherry Alpern, a Brooklyn-based peace activist who has been a lay leader of J Street:
I don’t like Shavit, for the most part. And I don’t like this column, though I agree it may be important to consider.He seems to lay the entire blame for the ailing, left-for-dead, peace process at the feet of the Palestinians. Viewing things from here, I don’t agree. Do you?I am also unclear about what he actually proposes. If it’s a gradual, partial peace — what exactly does that entail? — that he’s suggesting the parties settle for, I frankly doubt that the current Israeli government would go even that far. Even a partial peace is unlikely if ‘Security Security Security’ is all the Bibi government cares about — that plus cementing his ultra conservative base and getting re-elected (a little like the USA on that score.)
4. Ralph Seliger (of this blog):
Did you see a definition of this “new peace”? I didn’t.
What I read was a tendentious argument that the Palestinians have always shown bad faith. On the same page, there’s a link to a Haaretz editorial entitled “By Avoiding peace, Netanyahu is punishing Israel.” The lack of peace is not totally the bad faith of one side or the other; it’s because there’s not enough good faith effort by both sides.
5. From Jonah Shepp, a young American Jew I know who lives and works in Jordan:
I won’t bother to take the obvious bait about how he lays all the blame for the failure of the peace process on the Palestinians; I don’t need to repeat myself about how irrelevant, disingenuous and tiresome this argument is. What bothers me most about this piece is that Shavit is engaging in rhetorical sleight of hand: his “new peace” really means an endless war in which Israel never wins outright but always has its fundamental interests protected at the expense of the Palestinians and the stability of the region. It is exactly the same thing as the “economic peace” Netanyahu likes to talk about, and it is nonsense.
How anyone can seriously advocate a permanent state of cold war between Israel and the Arab countries as a positive good is beyond me. For one thing, such a situation would compel both Israel and its neighbors to remain wildly overmilitarized, obstructing the development of democracy in the Arab states and eventually reversing it in Israel (as we can already see happening). Instead of putting forward actual solutions to the conflict (such as, say, negotiating in good faith and preparing to make sacrifices for peace rather than proposing impossible borders to which the Palestinians can’t possibly agree, then calling them intransigent for not accepting what the Israeli government knows is unacceptable), Shavit apparently wants Israel to continue playing rhetorical games and casting itself as an eternal victim, while sustaining an expansionist policy and a bloated military presence to deter possible resistance.
And to top it all, he has the audacity to call such a state of affairs “peace”? Please.
6. Hillel Schenker (of this blog):
Well, with all due respect to Ari Shavit, not very convincing. As I read this exchange, the two chairs of the Palestinian-Israeli PeaceNGO Forum, Oslo architect Dr. Ron Pundak, and Samaan Khoury, together with Dr. Meir Margalit, a Meretz Jerusalem city councilor, have just left a meeting in Buenos Aires with Argentina president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, the son of noted author and activist Jacobo Timerman who lived in Israel in the late 70s-early 80s. Margalit was born in Argentina , and was the go-between.
As a rising power on the international scene, Argentina wants to become active in promoting the two-state solution, and they want to mobilize most of the other Latin American countries to join them. And particularly important, they will work to ensure that the Arab Peace Initiative (from 2002), in which the entire Arab and Moslem declare their readiness to recognize Israel based upon the two state solution, will remain on the table even after the changes being caused by the repercussions of the Arab Spring -more about this when Pundak and Khoury return to the Middle East next week.
In my view, the two-state solution continues to remain the only game in town. Meanwhile, here’s a link to Akiva Eldar’s article in Sunday’s Haaretz about the meetings in Buenos Aires:
Argentine President calls for regional involvement in Israeli-Palestinian conflict
“Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner meets with Israeli-Palestinian delegation Peace NGO Forum and announces Argentina will spearhead the Latin American role in reinvigorating the peace process.”