Ironically, many people often view the Israeli-Palestinian crisis through the lenses of religion-Islam versus Christianity. What they fail to realise is that Israeli Zionism is not related to or synonymous with Christianity: Zionism is a political ideology and movement that originally supported the reestablishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in the Palestine. However, there are more Palestinian Christians than there are Israeli Christians. True, Jesus was a Jew, but most Jews are not Christians.
There is need to understand why the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is lingering and still being sustained and what should be done. The Israelis state was created, in the era of colonialism and racism; as such Zionism simply fit that logic. The other core reason being that there is no racial or national group that is as dispersed or more in Diaspora as the Jews. More than one-third of the Jews do not live in Israel, they are dispersed and most located in other parts of the world, and they control the economy, politics, technology and educational sectors in all major countries of the world, the United States of America being the most dominant one.
With their business stakes in the media and strong lobbyist groups, they are able to influence information around the world about the true situation in the Israeli-Palestinian question thereby swaying the minds of policy makers and politicians in many countries in their favour and to probably do their bidding. With their domination of the information industry and the sympathy they get from western scholars and writers, they are able to produce to reshape world’s perception about the history and genesis of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. And at home, with a booming economy, strong army and nuclear armament, alongside the disunity and frictions among many Arab countries, Israel is able to have total control in the region.
Due to the protracted conflict between Israel and Palestine, crossing from West Bank to Gaza takes a longer time than flying from Tel Aviv to Madrid. High walls have been erected all through the State of Israel; the idea is not security but to foreclose negotiations around those boundaries. Whilst Yasser Arafat was alive, he was confined to his office for over six years and a travel ban was imposed on him. He was blamed for not checking the activities of Hamas when he had no standing army, whereas every action of the Israelis government continued to provoke anger and outrage among the Palestinians.
The genuine leaders of Israel that sought a solution to the Israeli- Palestinians crisis were not given a chance. Ishiak Rabin was assassinated by a Zionist Fundamentalist who felt that Rabin’s genuine commitment to peace was not unacceptable to majority of neo-Zionists. Being fair and just to the Palestinians means the Israelis state would have to give up a lot of settlements and land it had deliberately occupied. Israel is unwilling to get Palestinians exiles back, return the homes of those Palestine’s in Jerusalem whose homes were forcefully taken in 1948.
What will happen to Palestinians prisoners, and the refuges in various camps all over in Lebanon, West bank and Gaza? The right of return of Palestinians should be unconditional, and there is need for safety and dignity of all peoples and the collective resolve for peace. The two- states solution is the only way out; but the boundaries and terms of those who live either as settlers in the land of Palestine, and the enclave areas around Jerusalem as is the case with the Arabs, should be settled in the context of past Peace Accords more especially the Oslo Peace Talks and Camp David II.
The current Peace talks cannot commence when grandstanding and hot air overwhelms everything else and Netanyahu is saying construction of settlements will continue and what he wants to do is the “talk before talks”. This does not even show a demonstration of good faith on the part of Netanyahu. Not with Lieberman as Foreign Minister when his neo-Zionist credentials are un-mistaken and well known to the world. Benjamin Netanyahu himself campaigned and was voted for on the basis of his hard-line position against the Palestinians and any recourse to peace. It will amount to swallowing his words if he then accedes to the peace process. We must learn where to draw the line between rhetoric and what is realistic. The youth of Israel in a scientific survey some years ago, stated that they wanted peace with the Palestinians.
What will it take to get to peace? The answer is simple, justice - Justice to the peace loving people of both Israel and Palestine. The only way the excesses of Hamas and other violent groups in Palestine can be checked is if Israel creates condition for peace such that makes violence impossible. For the first time, an American President, Barack Obama, has refused to give a blanket and unconditional support to the Israelis. He has asked for genuine dialogue and the way forward. He said it was wrong for Benyamin Netanyahu to resume construction of new settlements and that the two states solution was the only way forward and that everything must be put on the table during peace negotiation.
The Israeli government was disappointed by the U.S position as they never expected such a move from the Americans; as such they have been exposed to the world as the real characters against a peaceful settlement because after all no country in the world receives as much military financial support from the US as much as Israel. Now, it has become apparent even to those who were against the Palestinians, that Israeli leadership and the political class are the main obstacles to peace. They continue to find excuses why the peace process must not continue and they scuttle every move to discuss what they considered “no go” areas such as the status of Jerusalem.
The idea of how to define who is an aggressor is not waht constitutes an aggression or who is retaliating over an attack or what acts of aggression a party is retaliating. Suffice it to say that successive Israeli Prime Ministers such as Menechem Begin, Golder Meier, and so on, all went into wars with the Arab countries beginning from 1968/69, 1973, then the various wars that led to the occupation of the Golan heights, Gaza strip and so on. It led to war with Syria and the attack on Lebanon, which led to the rise of the Hezbollah who had supported the cause of the Palestinians and recognised the rights of half a million Palestinian refugees living in Southern Lebanon.
The road to peace must recognize the right of return of these exiles, the right of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, the rightful status of Jerusalem, and the right of Palestinians to personal dignity and self-governance without hindrance and fear of occupation. The denial and sense of injustice that has been internalised by Palestinian youth led to the rise of Hamas beginning with the first Intifada and then later the assumption of power by Hamas in Gaza.
All said, the world needs to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians that in this era, rights and emotions of people must not be toyed with , their inalienable rights to life must be guaranteed and the only civilized way out is to follow the peace process to its logical conclusion. The military option can never lead to a solution, not even a short term solution. In the end, both perpetrators and retaliators will be consumed by war: nobody will ever emerge victorious. It is true that the Palestinian’s have had far more casualties than the Israelis, indeed for every one Israelis than was killed at least 100 Palestinians were killed in return. This state of affairs- attacks and counter-attacks must stop. Israelis and Palestinians must be compelled by the moral courage and genuine support of the rest of the world to resolve their millenarian conflicts. It will be foolhardy to believe that left to themselves, Israelis and Palestinians will agree to resolve the conflict by themselves.
Israel must not continue to harbour the feeling that they have a Biblical promise over Jerusalem or any land in the Palestine, they should realise that this is not about religious but political matter in which a common humanity is involved. Historical introspection is necessary but we must not interpret it in a selfish way that will make amicable and peaceful resolution impossible neither must we be slaves to history. Hence while the Israeli youth are asking for peace, and their neo-Zionists leaders have kept a hard-line position, it is clear that this hard-line position which have seen the continued bombardment of Gaza, creation of new settlements and so on, will only facilitate the emergence of more Palestinian militants who will continue to resist and fight Israeli aggression. War destroys both the aggressor and the victim, peace pays all parties.
The kind of peace that is needed and that will be enduring is one that comes with justice, fairness and equity. Anything less will not solve the Israeli-Palestinians crisis. Uri Avenery, the well respected Israeli scholar and Noam Chomsky another Jew have written lavishly on this subject from the perspective of a common humanity. They do not write from the narrow-mind and racist stand point of the ultra-right Rabbis and Zionist fundamentalist. They write about a common destiny and common humanity of the Palestinians and the Israelis. That is what all of us must strive to do for these people and the peace-loving people of the world. There is an urgent need to show understanding that we are talking about human beings and human suffering, therefore any soul killed whether Palestinian or Israeli cannot be restored- this does not tell us anything about the march of civilisation, it only reminds of barbarism of the Stone Age and would only add to the misery mankind is presently facing in the region.