Enough Already! – A Plan for Peace in Arabic: الإطار الجديد للسلام في فلسطين

لقد كان من دواعي سروري نقاش الوضع مع الفلسطينيين حيث استطعنا الوصول لاتفاقية بشكل سريع.
لقد كانت المفاجئة الكبيرة و السارة هي تلك الطريقة التي احتضن بها الفلسطينيون، و العرب ، و المسلمون
الجهود التي قمت بتقديمها، فأنا أعلم أن العرب يريدون السلام.
لابد أن يرى العرب و الإسرائليين السلام من الجهة الأخرى لهذا الصراع ، و ما يهمنا الآن هو من
الذي سيخرجنا من هذه الفوضى؟ و الإجابة على هذا السؤال هي : نحن جميعا.ً
بالنسبة إلى فلسطين :الخطة سوف تتضمن ميناء بحري في غزة ، مطار في يهودا و السامرة ، جسر ضخم
بين الأراضي الفلسطينية ، ضريبة إئتمانية للمصانع من كل بلاد العالم ، منح سخية لتساعد الحكومة على
النهوض للقيام بأعمالها ، و مدينة ألعاب إذا أرادوا ذلك، وقطار سريع يبدأ من غزة و ينتهي في الضفة
الغربية ، مرورا بالمناظر الخلابة للأراضي المقدسة كلها.
الفلسطينيون يأملون بالحصول على وظائف و يرغبون بتنشيط السياحة.
هناك تقرير بأن مصر مؤخر ا قدمت للفلسطينيين ما يزيد عن الستمائة ميل مربع في سيناء و اللتي يمكن
ربطها مع غزة.
إذا طالب الناس من قادتهم قصيري النظر ، قبول هذا العرض السخي فإن مدنا مشرقة سوف تضيء في
الصحراء.
كيف سنحل مشكلة الحدود ؟
سيكون خط الهدنة للعام ألف و تسعمائة و ثمانية و أربعين هو خط حدودي رسمي بإستثناء مدينة القدس و
المناطق الإضافية في سيناء.)أنا أفهم أهمية المسألة الأمنية المعنية و اللتي سوف نتناولها فيما بعد.(
سيسمح للمواطنين من كلتا الدولتين بالإقامة أينما أرادوا، و لكن لن يسمح لهم بالإقتراع سوى في الدولة التي
ينتمون إليها. العرب في فلسطين، و اليهود في إسرائيل.
بإمكان الفلسطينيون الجدد العائدون البقاء داخل الحدود الفلسطينية لمدة أربعين عاما و يبقى كذلك
المهاجرون الإسرائليون الجدد داخل الحدود الإسرائيلية لمدة أربعين عاما.
يسمح لما يسمى بالمستوطنين البقاء في مستوطناتهم حيث يكون للعرب كذلك حق العيش بحرية) أخيراً بعد
التطبيع(. أطفال من مختلف الجنسيات سيصبحون مواطنون للدولة التي إختار ذويهم العيش فيها أو بإمكانهم
أخذ هويات أخوتهم أو أخواتهم عبر الحدود، إذا رغبوا بذلك.
هاتين الدولتين يجب إعتبارهما متعاونين إقتصاديا مع إحترام حرية الحق بالإقامة و الزيارة، عُملة نقدية
واحدة، و بنك مركزي واحد، و لكن لا لحكومة إتحادية واحدة تحكم كلتا الدولتين.
ماذا عن العداء بين اليهود و الفلسطينيين؟
اليهود و العرب يعيشون في الأصل معا في إسرائيل، و سيبقون كذلك دائما.ً نحن قد نحاج لعدد من السنين
في البداية ، عشرة سنوات على الأقل تكرس جميعها ليتعرف كل منهما على الآخر من جديد. كالقيام
برحلات للمعسكرات إذا إقتضى الأمر ؛ تبادل طلاب ، مؤسسات تجارية مشتركة ،معسكرات صيفية

متواصلة، فرق موسيقية يهودية عربية، فرق رياضية ، و الأهم من كل هذا ضريبة إقتطاع لأعمال
المشاريع المشتركة. مهما كلف ذلك الأمر من جهود ، فلاشيء سيوقف الحملات التفجيرية في غزة سوى
رجال الأعمال في تل أبيب ؛ و لاشئ سيوقف الشهداء في تل أبيب سوى رجال الأعمال في رام الله. فمثلاً
عشرة أعوام من التعاون التجاري و الإنضمام لبرنامج عدم التحريض من كلا الطرفين ، بالإضافة لدعم
مالي ضخم لبناء الدولة العربية، يلي ذلك خمس سنوات من السلام الحقيقي، و من ثم يمكن أن تبدأ الهجرة
شيئا فشيئ ا من كلا الجانبين، بحصة نسبية لكل عام ، إذا رغب أحدهم بالفعل بالرحيل.فإذا تم هذا بنجاح
فالحصة النسبية ستزيد ، و إذا إستمر العنف فإن الحصة النسبية ستقل. و هكذا تستمر عملية التطبيع . أنا
أعتقد بأن معظم الفلسطينيين سيختارون العيش في فلسطين و بأن معظم الإسرائليين سيختارون العيش في
إسرائيل . كذلك أنا أعتقد بأن الفلسطينيين الذين سيحصلون على شقق جديدة و جميلة في سيناء و لديهم حياة
هناك سيبقون في سيناء ، حتى هؤلاء الذين يعملون عبر الحدود. لم سيغادرون إلى إسرائيل ؟ هم بالتأكيد
يستطيعون إذا أرادوا ذلك، لكن أغلب الناس سيبقون في أماكنهم.
عدم الإتفاق حول تلك النقاط المحورية هو حتما الذي كان سببا في فشل المفاوضات بين الطرفين و لأسباب
جوهرية. فيبقى الإسرائليون و الفلسطينيون حبيسون تلك الخلافات و خلف أسوار الجدار العازل، إلى الأبد
فاقدين الإحساس بالوطن و في هذا خطأ كبير و ظلم للطرفين
كيف ستعمل الإنتخابات في القدس ؟ هل يمكن للفئة السكانية الأكبر أن تكتسح الفئة السكانية الأقل؟
الإجابة لا. إن دائرة البلدية يمكن أن تتناوب بين االدائرتين العربية و اليهودية. كل المواطنين في فلسطين و
إسرائيل سينتخبون إدارتهم للمدينة المقدسة المشتركة . و سوف توزع الأصوات بالتساوي على الإسرائليين
و الفلسطينيين بنسبة خمسين/ خمسين ، و يجب على الإدارات اليهودية أن تحتكم للعرب إذا إقتضى الامر و
كذلك فإن العكس صحيح . و بالتالي فإن أفضل صناع للسلام هم الذين سيحكمون القدس. و لكن السلطة
كلها ستؤول إلى دائرتين بلديتين ، و دوائر إنتخابية بحيث أن تكون واحدة يهودية و الأخرى فلسطينية .
سنقرأ المزيد حول هذا الموضوع لاحقا.ً
و لكن ماذا عن الهوية اليهودية لإسرائيل إذا سمحتم لكل الفلسطينيين بالدخول؟
أنا أعتقد بأن اليهود و الفلسطينيين سوف يستمرون بالعيش في المناطق المجاورة حيث تشكل جنسياتهم
الغالبية العظمى ، على الأقل في البداية ، بالرغم من أن شيئ من الدمج بين الفئتين هو أمر يمكن لنا تخيله .
قد أشعر أنا في الحقيقة بالقلق حول أمن كلا الطرفين ، و لكن سيكون أمامنا سنوات طويلة للتأقلم . إذا لم
ينجح ذلك ،ستقف المساعي في مكانها. ثم تعود لتبدأ من جديد، عندما تنجح عملية التطبيع.
المتطرفون من كلا الطرفين لن يقبلوا بذلك.
من الأفضل أن يمارس المواطنون الضغط أثناء الإنتخابات الديمقراطية ، فهذا في النهاية سوف يساعد على
توفير الوظائف و سوف يحقق المصالحة. فالزعماء لن يستطيعوا أن يقاوموا إرادة الناس إلى الابد.
كيف ستدور العجلة الإقتصادية؟

وجود بنك مركزي واحد بإمكانه أن يدير عجلة الإقتصاد بإستخدام عملة واحدة هو أحد الحلول. في الغالب
لايوجد الكثيرون ممن يهتمون بالأمور الإقتصادية ، و لكن ما يهمنا قوله الآن : أن حل الدولتين قد ينتج عنه
دولة ضعيفة على الحدود مع إسرائيل، و من ثم فإن هذه الدولة الضعيفة سرعان ما ستشهر السلاح ضد
إسرائيل. و بالمقارنة فإن دولة فلسطين المثقفة تستطيع الإعتماد على الفرص المتوفرة وعلى رأس المال في
حالة التحالف مع إسرائيل لتصبح فيما بعد دولة مزدهرة
بمجرد أن تقف فلسطين على قدميها، سيكون بإمكانها أن تختارإفتتاح البنك المركزي الخاص بها، وتختار
عملتها الخاصة، و هذا يمكن أن يكون حقا مفيداً لنمو العجلة الإقتصادية .
كم من الوقت سيبقى هذا العرض مطروحا على طاولة المفاوضات؟
بموافقة الولايات المتحدة و المجموعة الرباعية، و المجتمع الدولي. مئة عام. إلى الأبد إذا لزم الأمر. دع
الأمم المتحدة تعترف بفلسطين و بخط الهدنة كحدود رسمية للجانب الفلسطيني من الإتحاد الفدرالي
الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي. بهذة الطريقة ) لعلاج المشكلة التي ذكرت سابقا(ً فإن الجهات المتشددة و التطرف لن
يستطيع أبداً إحباط هذه الخطة ,
ماذا عن أمن إسرائيل؟
قد تدعو الخطة، أخيراً، لإتحاد عسكري فدرالي للجانبين، مع أفراد من قوات الشرطة في كل دولة . هذا
المشروع الوطني لن ينجح بوجود فرقتين من الجيش يتبادلون إطلاق النار باتجاه بعضهما البعض بين الحين
و الآخر
و كذلك لن ينجح المشروع الوطني هذا إذا إستمر الجيش الإسرائيلي بإحتلال فلسطين إلى الأبد. من الواضح
أن الجيش الموحد هذا هو أمر لن يحدث بشكل سريع، و الإعلان عنه يعني نزع السلاح من غزة. و لكن
كيف ستحدث عملية نزع السلاح؟ و هل هي حدثت بالفعل من قبل، منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية؟ و هل
يسمح مركزالأمم المتحدة بالقيام بهذا الشئ ؟ دعونا نسترجح واحد من الشروط حول قرار نزع سلاح حزب
الله بعد حربه الأخيرة في لبنان، قرار نزع السلاح هذا لم يحدث أبداً . وأحد أسباب عدم نزع السلاح من
حزب الله هو أن الناس في لبنان لن يكسبوا شيئا من هذه العملية ، و لكن هنا معظم الفلسطينيين يريدون
السلام ، معظم الفلسطينيين يعارضون حل الدولتين الذي يبقيهم داخل حكم الدولة اليهودية. أعطهم ما
يريدون ، بشرط نزع السلاح من حماس، و من ثم فأنه لا داعي بعد ذلك للإستمرار بدعم حماس
أنا أعتقد أن هذه هي القوة التي ستتقبل الفلسطينيين ، إنما هي جزء له أهمية خاصة في تلك العملية ، لأنه و
لعدة سنوات ستبقى إسرائيل هي مركز القوة الإقتصادية ، و سيكون للجيش دوراً مهما في النهضة
الإجتماعية. عملية نزع السلاح ، يعقبها توحيد صفوف الجيش و هذا لن يحل فقط مشكلة حماية الحدود ، و
لكنه ايضا يقضي على الدوافع المزعومة لتبرير الهجوم من قبل الجوار الإسرائلي الفلسطيني العدائي. لم
سيضرب حزب الله صواريخ على الإتحاد الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي؟
و من ستهدد إيران بأن تمحو من الخريطة ؟
أنا أتمنى أن أستخدم كل جزء من القوة التي أملك لأساعدكم على تحقيق ذلك. أنا على إستعداد للسفر إلى
الجامعات و المجالس التشريعية، إلى واشنطن، رام الله و القدس ،سأحضر جميع المحافل الدولية ، سأوزع

كتيبات في الشوارع . سأتكلم في المساجد ، المعابد و الكنائس. هذا العالم عليل و منهك منا جميعا . هم
يظنون أنه لا سبيل لتقويمنا ، يظنون اننا حمقى و قتلة .
دعونا الآن نعمل معا لنثبت لهم جميعا أنهم مخطئون .

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A Single Army For The Israel Palestine Federation – No, It’s Not a Stupid Idea

September 8, 2014.

As I mentioned previously, the moderate Palestinian Sari Nusseibeh caused quite a stir nearly 30 years ago when he proclaimed on an Israeli talk show that he’d love to join the Israeli army.

But this is the last piece of our puzzle of peace, and an essential one.

We have three choices here: (i) a demilitarized Palestine and a militarized Israel forever; (ii) a Palestinian military on the border of Israel, and an Israeli military on the border of Palestine; or (iii) an eventual joint military, working in cooperation for the good of the two states.

The first choice will never be accepted by Palestine. Abbas has made that clear. Even if by some miracle, a newly independent state of Palestine were willing to allow itself to be ruled by the Israeli military forever, this would under international law constitute eternal military occupation. Such an occupation would result in constant Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory, with frequent UN condemnation. Sound familiar? Sound good to you?

The second choice, two opposing armies, will never be accepted by Israel, as Netanyahu has said any number of times. If some future Israeli leader were foolish enough to agree to such a scenario, Israel’s enemies (Iran, Qatar and Turkey) would support Palestine’s army with military aid rather than helping to build a viable economy in the nascent state, and Iran in particular would encourage periodic efforts at destabilization. These terrorist acts would be carried out courtesy of Hamas and Islamic Jihad units absorbed into the Palestine military to prevent the risk of independent militias but always willing to fight Israel to the last Palestinian civilian. Israel would have no choice but to respond militarily to these periodic efforts at destabilization.

Frequent UN condemnation.

A Goldstone report every year or two.

That leaves the third choice, which I hope no longer sounds crazy.

The new framework anticipates a complete demilitarization of Gaza, followed by normalization and a very gradual integration of the military.

The loose federation has a number of goals. One is security for Israel. Another is economic opportunity for Palestine. Integration of the armed forces addresses both.

In Israel, professional opportunity is generally provided through networking contacts made in the military. The Haredi and the Arabs, the two groups who generally do not serve, are at the bottom of the economic food chain for this reason. Steps are being taken to address the Haredi problem, and other non-Jews (most notably, the Ahl al-Tawhid, or Druze) already serve, quite successfully. Palestinians, likewise, would have economic reasons to serve in the military and to obtain decent employment after discharge.

But would this lead to mutiny in the ranks? For everyone who says that an integrated armed forces cannot work in Israel, just look to the American example. We had any number of experts insisting first that whites would refuse to serve with blacks (and race warfare was no minor problem in the United States); then that permitting gay soldiers would destroy military morale.

None of that happened. Soldiers did what soldiers do: they followed orders.

If getting shot at and blown up doesn’t destroy military morale, being forced to serve with the sons of Ishmael certainly won’t.

And we do indeed have common enemies on the border. Are the Hashemites of Jordan, who massacred the Palestinians in Black September back in 1970, better friends of the Palestinians than the Israelis? How about the Syrians, who so lavishly entertained their Palestinian guests in the elegant Homs refugee camp before blowing up Homs? What about the Lebanese, who locked their Palestinian refugees behind barbed wire in the Baddawi camp in 2007 (a prison in which they still languish), after massacring them in the Nahr al-Bared camp when they dared to protest the squalid conditions in which they lived? Or the Egyptians, who let the Palestinians die in a Gazan proxy army pre-’67 before they disowned the Palestinian cause, shut the border, locked the Palestinians away and turned them into enemy number 1? Or the Kuwaitis, who, upon returning triumphantly home after the first Gulf War, wasted no time in executing Palestinian guest workers?

Is it impossible that refugees who were resettled within a Palestine expanded to included 600 square miles in Sinai (recently offered by Egypt), enjoyed glittering new cities and jobs that benefited from Israeli capital, might actually develop a loyalty to this homeland?

When peace comes, the Palestinians would have every reason to fight to defend it.

Why ISIS is NOT An Argument Against Peace with the Palestinians (But Rather the Opposite)

September 8, 2014.

In recent weeks, of course, the world’s attention has been focused on ISIS (or ISIL), the radical army that has taken over parts of Syria and Iraq. Should we fight them? Should we put “boots on the ground?” Should we team up with Iran to fight ISIS, meaning that we toss to one side the economic pressure advocated by my old friends at UANI? Should we team up with Assad, and give up on the idea of a democratic Syria?

These decisions I will leave to our deliberative president, who appears to be thinking about it all very carefully. It is not necessarily the case that containment cannot work even on the most revoltingly evil regime, but it is also possible that something useful could come out of military action, if handled properly.

One thing I do want to address is one of the strangest arguments I have heard recently relating to ISIS: that the appearance of this organization is somehow an argument against peace talks with the Palestinians. The argument seems to be this: (i) some Palestinians are part of radical Muslim organizations; (ii) ISIS is a radical Muslim organization; (iii) you wouldn’t negotiate with ISIS would you?; (iv) therefore, don’t negotiate with Palestinians.

Let’s take a look at the causes that created ISIS.

For many years, Iraq was a nation with a majority Shia population that was ruled by a Sunni government. Syria continues to be a nation with a majority Sunni population ruled by a minority Alawite/Shia government.

After the Iraq war, the United States sought to help the nation transition to a representative democracy. A democracy, by definition, is one in which the majority view prevails. In America, religious blocs often split. In Iraq, on the other hand, this meant Shias suddenly ruling Sunnis, after years of the opposite situation. The Iraqi leader, Nouri al-Maliki, ruled in a particularly non-inclusive way. He oppressed, ignored and alienated the Sunni minority. (It almost made one yearn for the reign of Muhammad Najib ar-Ruba’i.)

Next door in Syria, on the other hand, the Alawite minority remained entrenched, even as opposition to the government arose from primarily moderate to liberal Sunni protestors and Westernized intellectuals. The United States failed to support or even to engage those protestors, the government crackdown began, a bloodbath ensued and a humanitarian disaster was born.

As a result, a decidedly immoderate Sunni opposition that was fully armed by our enemies filled the hole left by United States neglect and overwhelmed the liberal protestors. This opposition created a stronghold in Syria then swept across the Iraqi border, where they found little opposition from the oppressed Sunnis, who had no reason to fight to save the al-Maliki government.

Failure to support a moderate Sunni opposition and include them in the government has wrought havoc in both Iraq and Syria.

In Palestine, we have today a relatively moderate (although deeply flawed) Sunni government in the West Bank, supported by the United States, Europe and our Arab allies. In Gaza, we have a radical army supported by Shiite Iran, and even more radical armies waiting in the shadows.

What message would you draw from the rise of ISIS? What do you think we should do in Israel and Palestine to prevent the radical war from moving to the border of the Jewish state? Oppress and ignore the moderate Sunni opposition?

Is that a sensible lesson to draw?

Enough Already: A New Framework for Peace in Palestine and Israel

September 7, 2014.

For the last few years, as my friends know well, I’ve been working on a framework for peace between Israel and Palestine that would create two states in a loose federation, with residency rights throughout the entire land. (Back when these debates began, there was really no true nation of “Palestine,” but I believe that now that the General Assembly has voted, there is indeed a legal nation called Palestine, and so I will refer to it that way.) I quickly discovered that on the relatively rare occasions that I have had the pleasure of discussing the Situation with a Palestinian, we were able to reach agreement pretty quickly, and through real frustration over these continuous Gaza wars I put these ideas onto the Internet, and then into a series of columns that I’ve been writing. I quickly was offered the opportunity to give a TedX talk at the end of September and to publish my views in a Kindle single. Out of fear that I might say something to make things worse (as both well-meaning peaceniks, and well-meaning nationalists – and they do exist – have a habit of doing), I have sought out views wherever I could.

My biggest pleasant surprise was the way my effort was embraced by Palestinians and other Muslims and Arabs, even when they disagreed with specifics here and there. I feel quite certain that within the Arab world, there is a desire for peace.

It is possible that Jewish peaceniks have heard too many terrible “new ideas” over the years that would have the effect of destroying the Israel that they love. So they block it out, in favor of continuing to run after the ole pot o’ gold that is the two state solution.

I do believe, however, that with a little thought, my own people will see that this new framework is better for everyone. It really is good for the Jews, from peacenik Jews, nationalist Jews, to apathetic anti-Zionist Jews who don’t want to be beaten in the streets if they vacation in Paris. We Jews just need to be shaken out of our apathy or pessimism, or whatever is making us play to fiddle while our homeland burns. There are real solutions to all that ails us.

So after various conversations with economic and political experts and Arab peace activists, here are my thoughts:

I do understand that this won’t happen now. But I think trying to come up with new ideas is still important and useful. The framework seems is fair to everyone (as opposed to the one or two state solutions, which were unfair to everyone). It seems like something a nationalist Israeli and a nationalist Palestinian, as well as peaceniks, could all accept. The question is could it work? What about it is unfair to one side or the other? I am not as interested in whether Hamas wants peace. (Clearly they do not.) This would go around Hamas to the people.

The initial premises are these: (1) neither the two state solution, as currently envisioned, nor the one state solution, will work; (2) for the sake of debating and presenting the framework, I’m not taking sides (though like any human, I have my views on who is right and wrong); (3) Israelis and Palestinians are each a People, and neither is going anywhere. With regard to (1), what seems to kill the two state solution in negotiations is the existence of the so-called Israeli settlements and the Palestinian right of return. I believe that these are two sides of the same coin. Human beings should have the right to live wherever they want in their homeland.

I think that carrots are as important as sticks; we need something that both Palestinians and Israelis can see on the other side of this conflict. What we need now is an offer on the table, negotiated between the Israelis and the Quartet, which will be passed into Israeli law and preferably even ratified by the UN, and will be there for the Palestinians to accept, when they are ready. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is even about to give Israel an opening, if current reports are correct: he is preparing to demand that Israel put a plan on the table with maps. If Israel were to take him up on his offer, it would effect the international sea change that any sensible person should be seeking.

For Palestine: The plan will include a seaport for Gaza, an airport for Judea and Samaria, a great bridge between the two Palestinian territories, tax credits for factories from the nations of the world, wildly generous stipends to get the government up and running, and an Arab Disneyland, if they want one, with a sky-high monorail beginning in Gaza and ending in the West Bank, with a spectacular view of the entire holy land. Palestinians could look forward to jobs and tourism. Egypt has recently offered Palestine more than 600 square miles in the Sinai that could be appended to Gaza; shining new cities will rise from the desert.

HOW WILL WE SOLVE THE BORDER ISSUES?

The 1948 armistice line will be the formal border, with the exception of Jerusalem and the additional territory in the Sinai. (I understand the security issues involved, which will be addressed below.) Citizens of each state will be permitted to live wherever they want, but they will vote in national elections only in their national state. Arabs in Palestine, Jews in Israel. New Palestinian returnees would settle within the Palestinian border for 40 years, and new Israeli immigrants would settle within the Israeli border for 40 years.

So-called settlers may remain in their settlements, in which Arabs will also be free to live (eventually, after the normalization discussed below). Mixed race children will be citizens of the state in which their parents choose to live, or may take the identity of their brothers over the border instead, if they so wish. Jerusalem will be an international city, with rotating governments – two four year terms for Palestine, two four year terms for Israel. Jews may live in East Jerusalem.

I would imagine that the two states should be considered a loose federation, with one currency and one central bank, but NO federal government ruling both states ruling a unified nation.

WHAT ABOUT THE HATRED BETWEEN JEWS AND PALESTINIANS?

Jews and Arabs already live together in Israel, albeit in a highly segregated form, and they always will. So it can be managed. All of this would have to begin with “normalization”, which would be essential for success. A number of years, at least ten, devoted to getting to know each other again. Trips to Auschwitz, if we must; exchange students, joint summer camps, Arab-Jewish orchestras, sports teams, boy bands, whatever it takes. Ten years of normalization and verified anti-incitement programs on both sides, combined with hefty financial incentives for the building of an Arab state, followed by five-years of genuine calm, after which the migration on both sides could begin with a trickle at first, a quota year-by-year, if indeed anyone wishes to pack up. If it works out, the quota grows. If violence ensues, the quota shrinks. Normalization continues. My suspicion is that most Palestinians would choose to live in Palestine and most Israelis would choose to live in Israel. Think about the Palestinians who receive beautiful new apartments in the Sinai and build a life there, even one that may include a job over the border. Why would they move to Israel? They can if they want, but most people would stay where they are.

This is the pivotal point that inevitably kills the negotiations, and with good reason. Keeping Israelis and Palestinians each locked up behind a wall, forever lost to their homeland, is wrong and unfair.

HOW WOULD THE JERUSALEM VOTE WORK? COULD THE LARGER POPULATION OUTVOTE THE SMALLER POPULATION?

No. The city would alternate between Jewish and Arab administrations. All citizens of Palestine-Israel will elect the administration of our shared holy city. The votes would be weighted, so that the Israelis and Palestinians would have an equal vote – 50/50 – and Jewish administrations must appeal to the Arabs, and vice versa. So the best peace-maker will always run Jerusalem.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE JEWISH CHARACTER OF ISRAEL IF YOU LET IN ALL THE PALESTINIANS?

My guess is that Jews and Palestinians would continue to live in neighborhoods where their own nationality makes up the majority, at least at first, although some integration could be imagined. Furthermore, it may seem hard to believe, but we Jews are a minority in Brooklyn. I wouldn’t worry about the Jewish character of any place that has a lot of Jews. I would indeed worry about the safety of both populations, but we’ll have years to adjust. If it doesn’t work out, it stops in place. Then starts again, when normalization succeeds. Furthermore, just as most French people continue to live in France, in spite of European Union rules that now permit them to live in England, I suspect most Jews will stay in Israel and most Palestinians will stay in Palestine, especially with the massive new territory ceded to them by Egypt.

THE EXTREMISTS ON BOTH SIDES WOULD NEVER ACCEPT THIS.

Pressure from their citizens, preferably through democratic elections, would eventually bring jobs and reconciliation. Leaders cannot resist the will of the people forever. This is an approach that would go around Hamas. And if you consider the Jewish Home party to be extremist, what could they find to object to here? Jews could live wherever they wish within the Jewish Home, with UN approval. The whole reason for Jewish Home’s existence would go away.

HOW WOULD THE ECONOMY RUN?

One Central Bank would run an economy with a single currency. I’ve written about this in a wonkish column that almost no one read, but this is important to say: the two-state solution would result in a failed state on Israel’s border, and a failed state on Israel’s border would quickly take up arms against Israel. By contrast, an educated Palestine that could rely on the opportunities and capital that an alliance with Israel could provide would be a prosperous nation.

HOW LONG SHOULD THIS PROPOSAL STAY ON THE TABLE?

With the approval of the U.S. and the Quartet, and the international community, a hundred years. Forever, if necessary. Let the UN recognize Palestine and the armistice line as formal borders of the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian federation. That way (to address the issue above) the hard-line extremists could never scuttle the plan.

Yassir Arafat rejected the Clinton Plan; then, with another Prime Minister re-invading the territories and another president in the White House, he famously accepted. What if the Clinton Plan had remained on the table? How many of the dead would still live today?

If the approach were ratified in the U.N. it would have the force of international law. Now is the time that an approach that went around Hamas would have the best chance of success. The Israel-Palestine dispute is no longer valuable to most of the Arab nations, who are as sick of this as anyone, who fear the rise of ISIS and Islamic radicalism, and who would like the economic expansion and improved security that would come with a solid Israeli-Palestinian peace.

WHAT ABOUT ISRAELI SECURITY?

The plan would call, ultimately, for a unified federal military, with individual police forces in each state. This national project just could not work with two militaries shooting at each other every once in a while, and it could not work with the Israeli military occupying Palestine forever. Clearly a unified military could not happen for a very long time, and a predicate for it would the demilitarization of Gaza. How does demilitarization work? Has it ever really worked, since the end of WW2? Is this something that the UN is in a position to do? We recall that one of the conditions of the resolution of the last Lebanon war was the demilitarization of Hezbollah, a demilitarization that never took place. But the reason that the demilitarization of Hezbollah never happened was that the people of Lebanon had nothing to gain by the demilitarization of Hezbollah. Most Palestinians want peace, and most Palestinians oppose a two-state solution that locks them in a ghetto. Give them what they want, with demilitarizing Hamas as a predicate, and there would be very little reason to continue to support Hamas.

I think that a military that accepts Palestinians is an especially important part of this, because for many years Israel will be the economic powerhouse, and the military plays an essential role in social mobility. Demilitarization, followed by military integration, would not only resolve the problem of defensible borders, but it would eliminate the alleged incentive by Israel-Palestine’s hostile neighbors to attack. Why would Hezbollah shoot missiles and the Palestine-Israel Federation? What would Iran threaten to wipe off the map?

WHEN DOES ISRAEL LAY DOWN ITS ARMS?

Judging from the pogroms throughout Europe, Israel should fight as hard as she must to stay safe, even while the framework remains on the table.

But a framework must be on the table. Israel must offer peace and offer peace, and then offer it some more. It is the only way forward. It is fair to the Palestinians. And it is good for the Jews.

Israel and Palestine Are Not Two Countries – Notes on the Demographic Threat

September 4, 2014.

In the Summer of 1986 – a long, long time ago – the moderate Palestinian Sari Nusseibeh appeared on an Israeli talk show, where he expressed a willingness to run for the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), as well as to fight as a soldier in the Israeli army.

“Are you trying to tell me you would accept the Knesset’s national symbols, the flag, the national song?” the host asked.

“I’d have to,” Mr. Nusseibeh replied, but noted that “if we Arabs were the majority in the Knesset, if we wanted to, we could change the symbols, couldn’t we?” He added that he would be delighted to “wander around like the soldiers I see, slinging an Uzi over my shoulder!”

This caused a stir, and from then on, the Israeli left began to speak of the Arab “demographic threat” as a reason to relinquish the nation’s hold on the territories and the Palestinians over which it ruled.

This was the liberal argument for peace – that our Palestinian brothers are a “demographic threat.”

People voting in a democracy should not be a threat to anyone.

This is why it is particularly important to resolve the voting issue, which is really the main reason that the possibility of a one-state solution, as well as the Palestinian right of return, present such intractable problems.

One thing that strikes terror into the heart of most Israelis, and rightly so, is the idea of a single nation, in which everyone has a single vote, and in which a majority of the citizens who have a single vote would be intractable enemies of the Jews. It is a bit like what is happening in the United States today on the far right, as minorities who have been discriminated against for years become the majority of the country, with the ability to outvote white Americans, except that in Israel, this fear originated from the left. This is why the two state solution has stuck as the answer to everything – the fear by both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis of losing the right to self-determination in a nation in which they can be outvoted.

However, here is the truth of the matter: Israel and Palestine are not two separate states. Israel and Palestine is one country. Sometimes this country was called Palestine, sometimes it was called Israel. At a certain point it was split between Israel and Judah, Jews thriving in each. At another point, there were Philistine cities in the East, and Jewish cities in the West. During another era, it was Filastin, believe it or not.

I don’t know what Israel and Palestine will look like in fifty years. But I do know that today, Israel and Palestine could not be one country, with one person one vote, with a majority ruling the minority. At the same time, calling your fellow citizens – and Arabs make up 20% of Israeli citizens – a demographic threat is insidious and wrong. It is saying that just by existing, these Arabs are a “threat,” even the best of them, men like Sari Nusseibeh, non-violent people who simply believe in self-determination. Even Arabs who don’t particularly care about self-determination, those who simply get up in the morning and go to work. People, just by being born, should not be classified as a “threat.”

The new framework proposes giving all Palestinians and all Jewish Israelis the right to live wherever they want, to vote in their local elections, and to vote for their own respective national leaders. Arabs/Palestinians would vote for the Palestinian Prime Minister and Palestinian Parliament, and Jews/Israelis would vote for the Knesset and the Israeli Prime Minister.

This is admittedly problematic. Here are the various objections:

 

This is inherently racist; it defines citizenship based on race. In France, you can be a French citizen even if you are of an Arab race, or an Asian race. There are Chinese-Americans. There are Tunisian-Jews. The Israel/Palestine Federation would be the only country in the world so inherently racist.

 

This is a genuine and serious problem with the new framework. However, the alternative, the two state solution, would deprive most Palestinians and all Jews the right to live in significant chunks of their homeland. A Jew from Hebron could never go home. An Arab from Haifa, wasting away in a Lebanese camp for years, would be locked behind walls of the two-state border after peace comes. How is that not worse discrimination, and much more unfair.

Furthermore, under the new framework, everyone would have the local vote. The Arab from Haifa could return to Haifa and vote for mayor. The Jew from Hebron could move to Hebron and vote for any local politician he wished.

Furthermore, I don’t agree that distinguishing between Israelis and Palestinians is racist so much as it is nationalistic. Israelis and Palestinians are each a People. I do not agree with those who say there is no such thing as a Palestinian; indeed there is. I do not agree with those who believe that boycotting Israelis is not a bigoted act; indeed it is (it is discrimination based on national origin). Yet there are Palestinians – true, genuine Palestinians, and devout Muslims – who are descended from Jews forcibly converted to Islam. There are Chinese Jews, who are today Israelis. There are numerous African Jewish Israelis. There are thousands of Jewish converts who are today Israelis, racially not Jewish at all, yet absolutely part of the Jewish nation according to Halacha and Israeli rules of citizenship. Furthermore, the framework permits the children of mixed marriages to determine their nationality, or to take the nationality of their place of origin. As normalization proceeds, as hostilities dwindle, you would see a small but growing number of Muslim-Israelis and Jewish-Palestinians. Israel and Palestine would look very different, much more integrated and much more at peace, under the new framework, than it would under a strictly enforced and segregated two-state solution.

 

This is inherently racist, but for another reason: anyone can convert to Judaism and become Jewish, and so Israel can grow. No one can convert to Palestinianism. An Italian Catholic, for example, can become Jewish in a year and become a citizen of Israel immediately. Why should he not be allowed to become Palestinian if he feels a solidarity with the Palestinians?

 

I thought this was a ridiculous idea when I first heard it argued, and I still think it is a silly argument against the framework. It is true, however, that the issue of local elections presents a risk of trouble-making. Every nation has a right to naturalize citizens. The United States at one point essentially accepted anyone who desired citizenship; now it does not. Palestine could take in citizens from other Arab nations for the sole purpose of outvoting the Jews in local elections within Israel proper. Theoretically, Israel could do the same. The simple answer to this is that the open border policy would apply to those who had belonged to the Jewish or Palestinian nation for 50 years or more, and their families. Naturalized citizens of Palestine or new converts to Judaism would begin their lives within the borders of their chosen nation.

 

What about the international city of Jerusalem?

 

Because of the importance of the city, all citizens of Israel and Palestine would vote for the local administration of the capital, but votes would be weighted so that it would always be 50 percent Israeli and 50 percent Palestinian. The administrations would rotate – one or two terms for a Palestinian administration, and then one or two terms for an Israeli administration.

This is something I’ve been having a hard time getting across, but it’s really a pretty simple formula.

If the federation consisted of five million Palestinians and ten million Israelis, for example, each Palestinian vote for the Jerusalem government would count twice as much as each Israeli vote.

Let’s say it was Israel’s turn to run Jerusalem. The Israeli candidates on the ballot would have to appeal to Israelis as well as Palestinians in order to win, to get more than 50% of the vote. The same approach would apply when Palestine’s turn comes to run Jerusalem. The best peacemaker would always run the City of Peace.

 

What about Arab Palestinians who are currently citizens of Israel? Would they lose their citizenship?

 

This is tough one, but it could be addressed in a number of ways. Israeli Arabs could keep their citizenship and their right to vote in Israel’s national elections. Or they could be given the opportunity to keep the rights that come with Israeli citizenship – health care, unemployment insurance, pensions and the like – along with the right to choose to vote for the Palestinian national leaders. There are a number of ways of resolving this issue in a way that is fair to all citizens of Israel.

 

After a while living in Israel, a Palestinian would say denying him the right to vote in national elections is a form of Apartheid, and Palestinian residents of Israel will begin to agitate for the vote.

 

Anyone can agitate for anything anytime. If the two state solution came to pass – a “complete divorce,” as it’s been described – citizens of the poor state of Palestine will look to the wealthier state of Israel and will continue to agitate.

I agree that depriving the vote to certain residents of Israel is a problem. There would no path to the vote for people who had lived in Israel proper for years. People will agitate. Palestinians will agitate, and Jews will agitate, and maybe the Bahais will finally begin to agitate. (The Bahai question is for another day!)

One thing people do is agitate.

But given the inherently more equal and fairer approach of the new framework, I believe that the conflict will be much less problematic, the protests much less angry.

This is the formula for peace, not conflict.

Why Now Could be the Perfect Time for Peace (Really!)

September 1, 2014

Let’s say something upfront: Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision this week to expand settlements in the territories was an awful one. I am in favor of letting everyone in Israel and Palestine live wherever they want, but this decision, at this time, casts Israel in a terrible light internationally, it shows bad faith, it embarrasses everyone who defends Israel.

That said, the weakening of Hamas, and Abbas’s actions this week, create conditions that strengthen the possibilities for peace, although peace remains unlikely.

First, Hamas.

Hamas, like many in the Israeli government, is an obstacle to peace. I’m not going to spend a lot of effort justifying that view. To oppose Hamas is not the same thing as being against Palestinians. To oppose Hamas is to be pro-Palestinian. The weakening of Hamas creates an opening for peace, Bib’s recent actions notwithstanding.

And Hamas has lost its luster in the Arab world.

Within the Gaza strip, Hamas has little Palestinian support. A credible poll by the Washington Institute in June and an Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya poll in August showed this definitively. The IDC poll showed that 72% of Gazans wanted a lasting peace with Israel even during the heat of a brutal war. Not surprisingly, the Gazans did not want to spend weeks at a time running from place to place, dodging bombs. I hear Israelis and other Jews say that if the Palestinians want peace, they should stop electing Hamas. But Hamas was elected only once, in a plurality, and its rule over Gaza is the result of a military coup. Gazans, like anyone anywhere in the world, want to earn a living and protect their families. One brave Gazan went so far as to tell the New York Times that he wasn’t interested in Jerusalem.

Responding to Hamas’s Khalid Mishal criticism of the Arab world’s lack of support for the most recent war, Saudi Al-okaz columnist Abdul-Hamdi Razaq wrote,” We are tired of defending the cause that you have sold for cheap to a Muslim Brotherhood gang,” as did Al-Watan columnist Abdullah Al-Sayyid. The Saudi foreign minister, Saud bin Faisal Al Saud, reportedly also blamed the war on Hamas and called for normalization with Israel. In Egypt, the close ties between Hamas and Egypt’s reviled former leader have weakened Egyptian support for Hamas, as demonstrated by recent media criticism of Hamas’s behavior, as well as President al-Sisi’s all-but-explicit support for Israel in the war.

Ahmed Meligy, the brave and out-spoken Egyptian peace activist and Jerusalem Post columnist, told me, “Abducting three children out of school, what do you expect the Israeli military to do? This was expected. The people who did this are profiting from European sympathies. They don’t want peace….If you took Hamas out of the equation, there will be no reason for security, and with young Israelis and Palestinians getting to know each other, peace will eventually happen. Trust me, I am not the only one.”

Israeli Gershon Baskin was so pivotal in the freeing of Gilad Shalit and frequently acts as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas, yet he supports disarming Hamas, and recently wrote, “There are many reasons why I am against Hamas. But I want to share only one with you now. I am against people acting against their own interests. Negotiating is hard and Israel is a tough adversary, but I think it is very wrong to claim that you don’t get anything from negotiating. Compare the West Bank to Gaza.”

I like back-and-forth with Arabs on this subject, because I usually find that we can reach many points of agreement and become friends.

“What Gaza got is the largest open air prison on earth, not peace,” one man wrote to me recently. “How would you like it if we tell you take the whole land including Gaza and the West Bank, but, you can’t leave without our permission, you can’t import or export without our permission, you can’t work except in certain areas, you can’t farm on your land because it’s military zone, you can’t move between the cities without permission, every other day we will invade your home and check it, you could be subject and detained indefinitely at any time, your son in the US can’t send you money without going through us, etc….. How would you like it. You have every inch of the land, but without any freedom or dignity. Would you resist? Would try to be free? Would you arm yourself to protect your children and family?”

A perhaps understandable reaction at the moment he said it, with Gaza in ruins, but still pretty strong stuff.

Then in almost the same breath, he wrote, “I don’t like Hamas.”

Even Mahmoud Abbas is getting tough with Hamas, preparing either to take over Gaza rehabilitation or to deny Hamas funding to do so, and even blaming Hamas for the war, a remarkable step for the ever-cautious PA-leader.

Either Hamas gives up power voluntarily to the PA, or its people will live in rubble for an indeterminate future.

Either way, Hamas’s glory days could be over.

Now for the threat and the opportunity: In addition to fighting Hamas, Abbas is also readying himself for a new campaign in the UN against Israel, which will mean either imminent peace or utter catastrophe.

With this new volley, Abbas will give Israel till the end of the year to present a new map to Palestine. I would prefer that Abbas actually present a peace plan, rather than threats. I believe that were he to go to the Israeli people, I suspect a real peace offer, real normalization and real friendship would find a receptive audience.

This approach is regrettable, but not without hope.

If Israel does not present a proposal, the PA will go to the UN and seek to have the Green Line, the unworkable 1948 armistice line, declared the official border under international law.

The US will veto the action in the Security Council, but the General Assembly is all but certain to approve.

This would be bad for everyone.

This view on the Green Line has been the de facto position of many nations for years but would win new enforceability with a UN vote.

Let’s imagine Israel actually obeyed this new “international law.”

It won’t, but imagine it did.

The stalls in East Jerusalem would be closed to Israelis and to Jewish tourists. Israel would close the border, stop collecting taxes for Palestine, stop selling Palestine subsidized energy.

Israel would be legally required to close the factories in Palestine that employ Palestinian workers. Israel would give up the Kotel, which would stand empty on the other side of a wall.

Palestine would grow poorer.

War would ensue.

Of course, that won’t happen. It is most likely that Israel will simply ignore it all, build more settlements, grow more isolated.

My view has been that Israel should put a peace plan on the table that stays on the table forever. So Abbas is simply going to demand that Israel do what I think Israel should do anyway.

If you step back from the negotiations and look at them dispassionately, you can see that many of them (including the most recent) came very close to success but were scuttled in the end, and any offers made were withdrawn. (Arafat in fact later accepted the Clinton Plan, but only after the Bush years had begun.) Then both sides spend the intervening years arguing over what the offer was. Indeed, recently, Saeb Erekat has rejected Martin Indyk’s recollection of the most recent negotiations, and instead insists that no firm offer was ever made by the US and Israel, a position inconsistent with other tellings of the tale. One more reason why an offer needs to be put in writing and put on the table, and then left there. Speak directly to the Palestinian people (as opposed to their leaders) and give them a say in their future.

Israel should take up the Palestinian challenge. Present a map to the world. I would prefer that Israel adopt the new framework. But that will come in time. Today, Israel has the opportunity to show its good faith, to be a light unto the nations.

Let’s hope against hope that Israel seizes this opportunity.

— Steven S. Drachman

Image from the Middle East Peace Quilt, www.middleeastpeacequilt.ca

Is Israel Necessary? And Can We Share It?

There has been a tremendous upsurge in anti-Semitism in recent months around the world, which began with the massacre in a French school and has continued with the destruction of Jewish businesses throughout Europe. Commentators have struggled to explain why this is not Kristallnacht all over again. Two arguments have prevailed: first, these are not riots urged on by the political leadership. (Other than perhaps LePen’s growing party, and perhaps a number of other anti-Semitic European parties, and possibly some others.) Second, this is anti-Semitism created by Israeli behavior; make Israel behave in a more civilized fashion (have them protect Gaza, rather than bombing it, as Roger Waters has suggested) and this anti-Semitism will go away. An Episcopal chaplain at Yale named Bruce Shipman wrote, “the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press … Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.”

That’s right; make Netanyahu do something or other to achieve a final status agreement, and anti-Semitism will go away. Thanks Rev Shipman! I do remember those glory days before Netanyahu, before anti-Semitism even existed!

And before Israel was created in 1948, of course, there was nothing bad in the world that might incite anti-Jewish hatred, and so everyone liked us. Other than a few bumps in the road like the Dreyfus affair, the Leo Frank lynching, the Russian pogroms of 1881, that thing in the middle of the 20th century with the camps, the various medieval expulsions, a number of blood libels, a few Jewish bonfires, ghettoes behind which we were locked at dark, and a number of other things, we had a pretty easy ride of it before Israel came along to make us look bad.

“You’ll have your country like the other peoples,” predicts Joann Sfar’s Rabbi’s Cat, living in an idyllic, water-color Moroccan past. “And those who don’t like you will be ever greater in number. You won’t be any better off.”

This is nonsense. (Sfar is a great writer and artist, and the Rabbi’s Cat books are great works of literature, but this is still nonsense.) Why should Jews not have a country like any other people? Why should we not have a homeland to which we may return? Why should anyone hate us for wanting a country, for living in our country, for living in a small country with few natural resources but plenty of room? If people choose to hate us for having a country, that is their fault, not ours, and they would have hated us anyway.

And they did. And they do.

We are safer in Israel than in Iran. We are safer in Israel than in Morocco. We are safer in Israel than in France. (You cannot wear a kippah in France without being beaten. You cannot go to shul in France without police guards.) We were not safe before Israel. And in Israel we are safe. We need to fight for our safety, but we are safe.

What about America? We have a very brief history of safety in America, a brief period of time since the era of Leo Frank’s lynching. People will still complain to me about “the Jews,” then add, “Not Jews like you. The other Jews.” Ones with a long beard, perhaps, or those who wear kippahs. “If you loudly proclaim yourself Jewish,” a non-Jewish man I know said to me recently, “you should expect some blowback.” Hide your Jewishness, he tells me, and things will be OK. A woman, a few years ago, blamed the Holocaust on Israel’s settlement policies. When I began to explain the history of the thing – that Israel and its settlements did not exist at the time of the Holocaust – she interrupted me and wouldn’t even listen. She said (and she really did), “I don’t care what the facts are. I know what I believe.” A Manhattan pediatrician friend remarked that, according to her religion, Hitler was in Heaven, and the Jews he killed were in Hell. Anyone who kills a Jew with “love for Jesus in his heart” will go to Heaven. “I know it’s wrong,” her husband added, “but it’s what Jesus wants.” A few years ago, I attended a party in which one woman’s disparaging remark about “the Orthodox” brought forth a roomful of frighteningly enthusiastic albeit entirely untrue complaints. “They drive up and down 9th avenue every Friday night in their big cars,” one woman said, “yelling at dark skinned Latinas. Because the Orthodox hate dark skinned Latinas.” After some objection from me, someone asked, “Are you a Jew?” When I said I was, she replied, “Don’t worry. No one would ever know.” At a celebration of Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary in New York’s Central Park, to which I brought my little daughter, BDS protestors screamed, “Heil Hitler!” and “Hitler should have killed you all!”

We need and deserve a homeland to escape to. For the French Jews when their businesses are destroyed, the Iranian Jews whenever the government decides to start executing Jews again, and anyone else who is sick of the nonsense.

But does that mean that the Jewish state’s population must be only Jews?

This is far from Hertzl’s original vision. Hertzl imagined that Jews would be welcomed with open arms, because why not? We’re industrious! We’ve got good ideas! We’ll contribute to the economy. But it is natural for citizens to resent new immigrants, no matter their economic value, and especially if they arrive in volume. (The United States is not particularly admirable in that regard.)

So no, Hertzl never imagined that the Zionist homeland would be empty of Arabs. We need Israel, and we will always need Israel. But an Israel with Arabs in it is a better Israel than one without.

Welcoming our Arab brothers back to their homeland, after the normalization period that I have written about in previous columns and subject to the voting issues I’ve proposed, can be done without violence. And it can still be a sanctuary for Jews. I truly believe that.

It would mean that Israel would have to be better than other countries though. It would have to be a light unto the nations.

I think I heard that somewhere.