We are reminded by Dr. Thomas Mitchell, the “Self-hating Gentile” blogger, that there’s plenty of reason for pessimism on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front. He has been writing for a number of years on the need for “ripeness” by the parties to the conflict, which basically means that they have to want peace enough to pay the necessary price of compromise:
…. The only major advances in peacemaking in the Middle East came when the situation was ripe (Kissinger, Baker) or when a president was obsessed by it and made it a priority (Carter, Clinton). And even then success is not guaranteed. Kissinger and Carter were successful both due to ripeness and obsession–and skill. Baker declared a peace process but not peace. Clinton was not obsessed and by 2000 the situation was no longer ripe. Obama does not appear to be obsessed and the situation is not ripe. The Palestinians are still divided and Netanyahu’s third government is even more nationalist and settler oriented than his second.Find my general conclusion echoed in these pieces by Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, by former American peace negotiator Aaron David Miller, and by Alon Pinkas at the Israel Policy Forum.
He is not wrong, but we cannot stop advocating for peace. The stakes are too high.
A shortcoming of the “centrist” forces that serially emerge in Israel, most recently with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party overtaking the faltering Kadima (the previous standard bearer of centrism), is that they require a steep learning curve on peace issues. This is illustrated by Yair Lapid’s unrealistic pronouncement on retaining all of Jerusalem and his alliance with the pro-settlement Jewish Home party. It is possible that Lapid, whose running mates tend to be dovish, will learn the lessons that Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni eventually did when they embraced the cause of peace. But will this time lapse finish off Israel’s partner for peace, the PLO and Palestinian Authority under the moderate leadership of Mahmoud Abbas?
We share the view of the Peace NGO Forum that “Silence is no Longer an Option”:
If you Care about Israel, Silence is no Longer an Option!
A Call for Action from Israel to Liberal Jews around the World.
In the last years very alarming signs have appeared indicating that Israel is losing its moral and democratic compass. They lead us to focus on the half empty glass with recognition that there is also a half full glass. Although the results of the recent elections showed some kind of hope, the clouds of deterioration are still with us.
As concerned Jews and Israelis, we appeal to you to publicly express your concern about the current, critical situation in Israel, and to call for the State of Israel to return to the peaceful, moral, democratic, and humanistic values we all cherish. We are sending you this urgent appeal because we believe that, as liberal Jews, you share the humanistic values of our Jewish heritage, and support our struggle to prevent the deterioration of Israeli society.
We must all voice our reservations and criticism loudly and clearly. It is our responsibility to speak out and take action, as an ultimate expression of our identity and conscience. Ultimately, history will judge us by our actions (press here to see the whole call letter).
We Israeli Jews who cherish liberal values are sending a call letter to every liberal Jewish house and community in the world (press here to see the list of those who signed the letter) The list includes names of Israeli Jews from all the layers of Israeli society who support this initiative and represent a segment that cherishes Jewish and humanistic values. We are aware that there are liberal Jews around the world who devote time and efforts trying to influence the direction of Israeli policies, but there are still many more who need to express their concern. This letter aims to considerably amplify liberal voices.
In addition to the call letter we are also sending a document that provides evidence of the significant departures from democratic and moral codes by the State of Israel. You can view an executive abstract (press here to get it) and/or the whole document (press here to get it), with a map that illustrates the situation of the occupation (press here to get the map).
Finally a letter that provides initial suggestions for concrete actions is also attached (press here to get it). We hope that our letter along with the additional documents will be disseminated in the Jewish liberal world. They should serve as a basis for debate and action. It is possible to adapt and extend the list of actions according to the particular context, goals and conditions of each community and person.
Please bring the whole call letter to your home and community and pass it on to other Jews who cherish liberal values. Also try to publish it in Jewish newspapers and newsletters. In addition, spread the word through various social networks (This is our facebook page). It must reach every liberal Jew. It is our responsibility to speak out and take action, as an ultimate expression of our identity and conscience.
Liberal Jews in Israel who Signed the Call Letter.
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