Some initial comments:
Coming up with deals and compromises will never be effective. The deals will always be disproportionate and will not cause a change in culture or a shift in consciousness, which is ultimately what is required. The solution cannot involve submitting to the mass hysteria of public outcry or the provocation of protest groups. These attempts are inherently aggressive; therefore, will only lead to more aggression and disunity. Political and diplomatic means are also useless, because mediators often have their own vested interest (or they’re simply disinterested) and cannot be held accountable for failed diplomacy.
The solution must be sustainable. The solution must be process based with the intent of building a self-sustaining mechanism that will not be lost with the passing of a generation. The solution must address the spiritual dimensions of the conflict. The solution must involve the active participation of institutions, communities, and individuals from both parties. The solution must draw the interest of foreign powers to the degree that they are intimately involved in the peace process, and this involvement must include the participation of foreign institutions, communities, and individuals. Finally, the solution must target the children and youth of both parties because, ultimately, lasting peace will depend on a dramatic shift in collective consciousness.
The Solution: step-by-step
Stage 1: The Multi-National Zero Toleration Treaty
It would be illegal for either party to make aggressive gestures toward the other side. Any party that fails to abide by this treaty would be sanctioned and tried by an International court. Continued disregard for this treaty would result in an economic and political shunning by world states, which would mean that the party concerned would no longer be recognized as a sovereign body.
Any civilian terrorists found making aggressive gestures towards the other party will be removed from their country, tried in a criminal court, and kept in a foreign prison until they have been effectively rehabilitated. The state will not be punished for the actions of civilian terrorists unless they can be unequivocally connected to the state.
Stage 2: Drawing of the lines
I will not go into detail regarding the West Bank, Golan heights, and Gaza because I don’t find myself knowledgeable enough to work out a proper map that would provide quality living for families on both sides. However, my concern here is that the children and families on both side of the border have equal access to agricultural land, water, trade routes, security, beautified landscapes, above standard living conditions, education, health, and all other basic human services. Historical, religious, and political issues should no longer be the basis upon which the map is drawn out. The whole purpose of this plan is to eliminate cross-border tensions altogether. Therefore, any issue of “ownership” and “belonging” is henceforth meaningless. What we’re aiming for is open movement between Palestinian and Israeli borders as well as strong cultural and economic ties. Any borders will only serve a jurisdictional role.
With a proper vision in place, the most reasonable area of land should be allocated to each state with each party responsible for the governance of its own people. Therefore, whether we return to pre 1948, 1967, or create some new design is irrelevant. I stress that historical factors need to be eliminated from the discussion because they will forever be the source of contention. The only solution is one that meets the basic needs of all families living on both sides of the border, and that can account for an ever-growing population. If that means that Israel needs to hire contractors from Dubai to build their state into the Mediterranean, than so be it.
If anyone has any proposals for a fair mapping of Israel and Palestine, please respond with your ideas.
Stage 3: Jerusalem becomes a Neutral Zone
The third stage involves making Jerusalem and its surrounding areas neutral. Under who’s jurisdiction? The International community. In who’s lifetime? Hell, I don’t know. Do you think that I expect anyone to accept any of this! I’m doing this for kicks. I’m a proud utopian with grand visions. It works for me. A healthy kick of grandiose utopianism is a great way to start your day! Try it.
Regardless, Jerusalem must become neutral. Anyone who chooses to live there must observe the laws and agreements of the International community.
Stage 4: Construction of the Jerusalem Peace Institute
Now we start on the real work. With the help of physicians from South America, Agriculturalists from Africa, Educationalists from North America and the South pacific, Architects and Engineers from Europe, Artists from the Middle east (poets, musicians, painters, as well as journalists and writers), and Scientists from Asia we will build an institute dedicated to the perpetuation of peace in the middle east. The infrastructure for the Institute will be built in Jerusalem (and surrounding area) with every consideration of Holy sites and historic/cultural properties. The money for the project will come from the solicited donations of people around the world.
Don’t like my flowers and rainbows? Well, tough! Suck it up. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been going on since humanity began keeping historical records, and I believe it is going to take as long to fix it. That means that our solution has to involve a world effort in creating a self-perpetuating system that doesn’t only put an end to war, but creates peace. Also, it can only favor one party, the human soul.
The Jerusalem Peace Institute will require mandatory attendance by all members of society, from politicians to young children. Of course, each person will only be required (by international law) to attend the institutes program for a fixed duration each year.
The programs at the Institute will focus on four areas of civilization development:
1. Adult curriculum: “Being a participant in community building”
I acknowledge that the following proposal is simplistic, but I don’t care. It’s a proposal for your reading pleasure. Obviously, if this model were to be taken seriously, it would require a tremendous amount of work, trial-and-error application, and a whole lot of tweaking. However, considering the situation, I think any ideas at this point are fair game.
This program will begin with a discussion of basic human rights, an inter-religious dialogue concerning the nature of the human soul as well as life and death, a theoretical orientation and discussion of justice, sustainability, crisis and victory, diversity (including religious freedom), and creating an honest society. For each segment there will be a service component wherein the individual will be tasked with applying their knowledge to some aspect of community life. This portion of the curriculum should not take very long to complete.
Family and Society
After the completion of the Foundation program the adult participant will move on to a program called Family and Society. In this program they will learn the basics of child development, family life, domestic violence and abuse, maternal health, and other family related topics. Than they will move on to learning about community health, sustainability, development, and consultation. There may also be instruction in law and order as well as the responsibilities of a voter.
Vocations for Peace
In the Vocational program the participant learns a vocation of their choosing. These vocations will provide the skills necessary for the individual to work in rebuilding some aspect of their community. Of course, this would not become their career; instead, it would replace mandatory military service. For instance, if a person chooses to work in water irrigation, they will commit a few hours a week (paid) in an on-going irrigation project. Other possible vocations would include nursing, agriculture, education, construction, machinery, etc. Once they have selected a vocation, they will become a resource for that particular field in their community.
Now, a word of caution, this is by no means supposed to be a communistic approach to social organization. Human rights and freedoms must be respected. Individuals must be paid, given equal opportunity for wage increases and health-care program, and individuals must not be burdened beyond their capacity. A system of justice must not give rise to symptoms of injustice. The reason this program seems so rigid and strategic is because the chaos is far too great to be approached permissively.
2. Children’s curriculum: “Developing a world-embracing vision”
The children’s program will have three components to every lesson:
A) The arts. Either singing, crafts, painting, coloring, etc.
B) The sharing of stories from the cultural heritage of both Arab and Israeli history.
C) A physical activity that requires interaction (a game, a sport, etc).
These are just some of the themes that could be used for each class:
-The unity of religions
-The oneness of mankind
-The golden rule
-A peaceful society
-Unity in Diversity
-Our common heritage
-A loving God
3. Junior Youth program
The focus of the Junior youth program will be twofold:
A) The development of constructive communication skills and the ability to express ones ideas, questions, feelings, and difficulties articulately and effectively.
B) Living within a moral framework by acknowledging the nobility of the human spirit.
A huge part of this program will be the service component. Each gathering will involve a discussion and a related service component. There will be two on-going service projects that the Junior Youth will continuously be involved with:
– The restoration and maintenance of the sacred and holy places in Jerusalem.
– Helping with water irrigation and filtration systems that will direct clean and continuous channels to water deprived areas.
4. Devotional Program
At the end of each day, participant in the program will attend a devotional program. Together, they will read from the Holy scriptures of all the worlds religions and spiritual traditions. Each devotional will have a theme such as unity, world peace, love, family, children, and praise of God.
Some final comments:
I can only imagine the slew of negative criticism I will get just for “wasting” the time to write this. However, let me make it clear that this proposal must not be taken literally. The purpose of sharing these ideas with you are to convey the themes that I believe must concern any future effort in establishing a lasting peace between the Israeli’s and Arabs.
1. If we keep looking back, movement forward will be extremely slow if there is any at all.
2. The children and youth should be the focus of the peace process.
3. All Holy, cultural, and historical sites should be regarded as part of a ‘shared’ history.
4. The consequences for not abiding by the stipulations of an agreed international peace treaty should be harsh and should include the signatures of a large number of countries from all continents.
5. Building peace should have, as its ultimate goal, the strengthening of cultural, social, and economic ties between the parties involved.
6. The peace building process should be a dynamic one that rests upon a foundation of grassroots education.
7. The spiritual life of the community must be considered in any peace building process.
8. Every individual, regardless of position, must be involved in some aspect of community building. In this way, the buck stops with no one, everyone is accountable, everyone is empowered.
If you hate these ideas, fine. Please make some suggestions as to how it can be improved, or make your own proposal. There is really no point to simply criticizing without weighing in with some constructive suggestions. I’m hoping that, perhaps, with enough participation we could flesh out a comprehensive peace treaty of our own. What the heck, if we do come up with something worthwhile maybe I’ll send it to some heads of state. I’d do that.
Some Comments from Christopher McLeod (June 6th 2010)
I agree that the shift in consciousness by both parties is required. I would also agree that that shift in consciousness must be spiritual in nature if it is to be sustainable, and that it needs to be supported at a levels of interaction. However I would argue that a rules based approached, the making of aggressive gestures illegal, is probably doomed to failure. One because probability of rules of that nature passing through representational governments is extremely small, and secondly that rules impose societal change downward. I would rather see a grass roots movement with compassionate and inspired leadership on both sides of the conflict creating change from the ground up. I do agree that the notion that violence or aggression is acceptable or permissible needs to be overturned. This would require a paradigm shift in both cultures – which can only be achieved with enlightened education and social interaction and involvement.
As for the delineation of borders I leave that for much more informed and intelligent people than I. However I have heard some excellent arguments by Noam Chomsky on why having two separate Palestinian areas – The West Bank and Gaza is unworkable. In the end I think you are very correct in pointing out that compared to equal access to essential services, education, good agricultural land and the ability advance one’s society the where is secondary in importance. Palestinians have been living basically homeless since the creation of Israel in 1948 it would be good to be able to finally have some permanent residence. I do however think that it is important to understand that the two state solution should be equal in all ways. The Palestinian state should be afforded every right of statehood – including police and military rights. As a state it would hold sovereignty within it’s borders. As it stands now it’s not much different from our own Canada Aboriginal reserve system where rights are continually being dismissed.
I like the idea of Jerusalem becoming a quasi international city-state. Governed by its own representative government which should be comprised of democratically elected proportional government which is responsible to its constituents and to a constitution which protects the freedom of religion and the holy sites within it’s jurisdiction.
I have alway been a proponent of citizenship being earned. While I am not a supporter of mandatory military service – I do however applaud countries which allow their citizen’s to avoid military service by instead engaging in service through other governmental organizations or NGO’s. This is very much in the vein of the Ontario Educational System which mandates that individuals are required to have a certain number of hours of community service before they can be granted a High School Diploma.
Their are already movements afoot which are beginning to break down walls of separation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Their are consciencous objectors banding together, with peace activists, and other youth movements who feel that this violence has gone on long enough. I personally belief that people need to realize that we are all human beings and that what we share — our humanity — is so much more than what makes us different. We are all human beings – and the things that separate us are all, in their essence, meaningless.
Of course, I recognize that my commentary is easy – as I sit in my home in Atlantic Canada. I don’t have the generations of violence, hatred and oppression effecting every moment of my life. I don’t have the propaganda machines running 24 and 7 affecting every interaction that I have. I do however have hope. I truly do hope that their will be a peaceful solution for my fellow human beings both Israeli and Palestinian, and a cessation to the violence that destroys life.