Newsletter

Receive HTML?

Peace Roadmap

Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

Look inside Nissim Dahan's book Selling a Vision of Hope with Google Books.

In the News
Obama, Saudi king discuss strained alliance, Middle East conflicts

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Saudi King Salman at Erga Palace upon his arrival for a summit meeting in Riyadh
By Roberta Rampton RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama met Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Wednesday to seek joint action on security threats including Iran and Islamic State - and to talk through tensions between the two allies that have been laid bare in recent weeks. Obama's fourth and likely last visit to the world's top oil exporter has been overshadowed by Gulf Arab exasperation with his approach to the region, and doubts about Washington's commitment to their security. Most of the Gulf Arab monarchies have in private been sorely disappointed by Obama's presidency, regarding it as a period in which the United States has pulled back from the region, giving more space to their arch rival Iran to expand its influence.

Listen to an interview with Nissim Dahan on the Tom Marr Show.

What Do You Think
Should US take preemptive military action against Iran to destroy its nuclear facilities?
 
Who's Online
We have 2 guests online
Show Support
Share the Vision
Vision of Hope
Archive >> August 2010
file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 22 Aug 2010 9:15 PM
This Time Around, Can We Tip The Balance In Favor Of Peace? Posted by Nissim Dahan
On the eve of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, we should ask ourselves if this time around we will find a way to work together to tip the balance in favor of peace. Some may say that we've been down this road before; been there, done that. And as we all know, peace has remained an illusory dream at best. But I would not give up so easily. This time around, there may be a good chance to cut a deal, not because the key players love one another, God forbid, but because they face some common existential threats, and they actually need one another to stave off these threats.

 

A lot is at stake for Israel and Palestine, for the region as a whole, and for the world at large. It is not that the people of the Middle East necessarily care that much about the plight of Palestinians and Israelis. The vast majority don't care, as evidenced by a recent poll. The reason that these talks are important, however, is because a successful outcome could pave the way to a revitalization of the entire Middle East, which would include the creation of good paying jobs, and a realignment of security arrangements in order to contend with the threat of a nuclear Iran. A peace deal between Israel and Palestine could be the seed that grows into a new and vibrant Middle East, a Middle East which is more secure, and which begins to realize a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom.

 

What will a peace deal between Israel and Palestine look like? Surprisingly, that is not so difficult to fathom. Most of the key players know what to expect in this regard. My guess is that the final treaty will probably mirror, in many ways, the proposal made in the year 2000 by President Clinton, and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to President Arafat, and would include the following elements: a new Palestinian State, all of Gaza, almost all of the West Bank, land swaps of Israeli land to offset the large settlement block retained by Israeli, a dismantlement of most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a sharing of Jerusalem in some form or other, compensation by Israel to the refugees, and a very limited right of return for some Palestinians based on humanitarian ground and subject to Israel's approval. The vast majority of Palestinians would have the right to "return" to the new Palestine.

 

Why would such a deal be cut today, when similar such attempts failed in previous years? Only one reason; because today, the stars are aligning in just the right way, so that the self-interest of each of the key players will push each of them to join forces with one another to stave off some very common existential threats. Look at the whole picture: Fatah in the West Bank is threatened by a Hamas takeover, and may actually need Israel to help meet that challenge. Israel is threatened by a nuclear Iran and may need a peace deal with Palestine to consolidate support for stopping Iran and containing her ambitions for the region. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the other Sunni states are worried about a nuclear Iran, and about Shiite intentions to disrupt the balance of power in the predominantly Sunni Middle East.

 

Putting it all together, the mutual self-interests of the key players may begin to point in one direction, and one direction only, whether they like it or not. Israel will cut a deal with Palestine, even if Hamas decides to take a pass. Saudi Arabia and the other Sunnis will use that pretext to recognize Israel and to declare peace with her based on the Arab Peace Plan of 2002. Such a declaration could become the impetus for a military/economic alliance in the region which will be used to revitalize the region economically with job creation, and to secure the key players by uniting to keep Iran in check. Ultimately, if everything pans out, and granted it's still a big "if," Iran may think twice about her ambitions when facing a united front consisting of Israel, the U.S., and the Sunni world.

 

We can think of the peace between Israel and Palestine as a spaceship of sorts. The spaceship will be thrust into space with the help of three booster rockets: the first and most immediate is the need to consolidate security, the second is the need to revitalize the Middle East economically with good paying jobs, and the third is the need to stabilize relations between Sunnis and Shiites. Perhaps these same needs have always been around. However, this time around they have reached a new level of urgency. We have about a year to pull this thing off, before all hell breaks loose, including the ominous decision of whether or not to allow Iran to go nuclear.

 

Given everything that is at stake, the question becomes: How far are we willing to go, each and every one of us, to maximize the chance for a successful outcome to these upcoming peace talks? Many of us are inclined to leave things to the diplomats and the political leaders. However, the issues are so difficult, and the sensitivities are so heightened, that I strongly doubt that the diplomats, on their own, will be able to cut this deal. They will need help, and even a certain measure of pressure, from the outside, from people like us, to make something happen at the negotiating table.

 

That's where we come in. Don't underestimate, even for a moment, our power to make things happen. Every one of us, each in his or her own way, can help to move the peace process along. We may or may not particularly care about Israel or Palestine, even though many of us do. But we certainly care about ourselves, and the world we want to leave behind for our children. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that we're all in this together, and that we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to do what we can for the sake of peace.

file under: Philosophypeace in the Middle Eastcommon sense 9 Aug 2010 12:37 PM
I Believe Posted by Nissim Dahan
Many of us hold on tightly to our core beliefs. In a world where it is easy to get lost in the shuffle, we use our beliefs, our worldview, to carve out an identity for ourselves. It is only natural. Our core beliefs give us a sense of grounding in the shifting sands of the modern world. And yet, the writing is on the wall. If we are to survive as a species, and more than that, if we are to bring a sense of hope to this world, we owe it to ourselves to ask if at least some of our deeply held beliefs make any sense. Because in a very real sense, it may very well be that our clinging on to false belief is at the heart of what is wrong in this world.

 

We come to believe the things we do in a variety of ways. Most of us are born into a certain worldview, a belief system, and we naturally accept as true the things we are taught at a young and tender age. It is certainly easier join in and play along than to defy conventional wisdom. Others come to believe in certain notions because they want those notions to be true. In other words, some people believe what they want to believe, and for some of them at least, the truth is just a side issue. And still in other cases, a person's mind and imagination can be hijacked by people with a certain agenda or ulterior motive. In this case, a person could be persuaded to believe certain things, things he would not ordinarily come to believe, because he has been persuaded to do so by those who would manipulate his thinking for their own purposes. Suicide bombers are a case in point.

 

Regardless of how we come to believe the things we do, some beliefs make sense, and some do not. Many of us have come to believe things that make no sense, and that would be difficult to justify using rational thought. There are numerous example of false belief: the belief that God would have us kill one another in His name no less when it is precisely He who created us in the first place, the belief that there is any measure of "honor" in "honor killing," the belief that holding on to yet another piece of land is more important than brokering a just and lasting peace, the belief that a weapon of mass destruction will bring security to a regime that is out of step with the will of its people, the belief that it is just dandy to keep running our economies on fossil fuels, the belief that our set of religious beliefs make us somehow superior to those of a different point of view, the belief that it is okay to keep women down even as we need them so desperately to lift us back up, and the list goes on and on...

 

We don't have to be prophets to read the writing on the wall. The stubborn clinging to false belief is bringing us ever more closely to the edge of the abyss. Previously local problems, like water shortages, or climate change, are quickly becoming global problems. Environmental threats are growing exponentially. Political and economic instability in one country can easily wreak havoc in an entire region. Weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands can be used to re-write the destiny of man. Religious discord, which has been around for thousands of years, takes on added dimensions in a world where technology has not kept pace with what is wise and prudent.

 

There was a time, not too long ago, when people used more of their common sense. Civilization has been around for some 10,000 years, yet we have been around as a species for some 2,000,000 years. Before there was religion, and politics, and technology, there were the cavemen, who had nothing to rely on but their common sense to survive yet another day. They hunted and gathered, and since no one really had much of anything, there was no real reason to kill or steal. It made more sense, in the hostile environment they found themselves, to help one another out, to "...treat others as you would have them treat you..." A movie on The Discovery Channel called The Rise of Man makes the point that The Golden Rule underscored the thinking of the cavemen.

 

To my mind, common sense is what we were given, by our Creator, to bring a semblance of order to our lives. People think of common sense in different ways: the wisdom of the common man, the wisdom born of shared experience, etc. I think of common sense as the intuitive wisdom to conform our thoughts and actions to universally shared truths and values. Don't blow a circuit, it's not all that complicated. The intuitive wisdom is the wisdom that comes from within. It's inside you. Thoughts and actions because it is not enough to think straight, you have to act on what you know to be true. Truths and values; truths are the realities we perceive, values are the realities we aspire to. And why are these truths and values universal? Certain truths and values are so rational, so logical, and so self-evident, that they are universally perceived as true, and therefore universally accepted.

 

As an example, here are three universal truths; the big three so to speak: The Golden Rule, The Golden Mean, and The Greatest Good. I call these the 3-G's for short. The Golden Rule tells us to treat one another as we would have them treat us. The Golden Mean tells us that truth is not an extremist position, but is to be found somewhere in the middle between two extremes. And The Greatest Good would have us do what brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number.

 

What if we could use our common sense, including the 3-G's, to inspire in one another a sense of hope, and to bring a sense of order to this dangerous and often volatile world? What if The Golden Rule would have us treat each other well by Investing in one another to create jobs: jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking? What if The Golden Mean would have us think straight by using our common sense as our Ideology? And what if The Greatest Good would have us maximize justice by organizing ourselves around a vision of Hope, a vision of peace, prosperity, and freedom? Put it all together, as Thomas Jefferson might have done, and the answer for world peace becomes not all that complicated, "We find this truth to be self-evident: Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace.

 

Yes, we find ourselves in troubling times. We sense that things are coming to a head, that history is playing itself out even as we speak. And we know that if things go wrong, they will go very wrong indeed. So what is the answer? What is the answer that could inspire a sense of hope in things to come?

 

Well, no one has the entire answer. That would be asking too much. But my sense is that at the heart of the matter is a need to re-think at least some of what we happen to believe, in favor of what makes more sense. We all believe in this or that. It makes us who we are. But it may be necessary, at this point in time, to filter our beliefs through the filter of common sense, to let go of some of our beliefs, in favor of something we can believe in even more. It may be necessary, in our time, to let go of who we are, so that we can discover an even better version of ourselves. It may be necessary to re-create ourselves in a new light, a light that shines as a beacon of hope, and that points to the realization of a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom.