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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

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Category >> Palestine
file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 4 Jun 2010 10:08 PM
What Do The Flotilla Activists Want? Posted by Nissim Dahan
I know what I want, but I'm not quite sure what the flotilla activists want, although I do have my suspicions.


I want a peace deal to be cut between Israel and Palestine, along the lines of the proposal made by President Clinton and Ehud Barak in the year 2000. I want to turbo-charge and sweeten that deal by having Israel agree to help consolidate Palestinian security, because they need that, and to help grow the Palestinian economy with good paying jobs, including green jobs. I want to end the occupation. I want to see two states living side by side in peace, and partnering together for the sake of a brighter future. And finally, I want this peace between Israel and Palestine, this model, this seed, to be the impetus that gives birth to a new and revitalized Middle East, a Middle East in which everyone has a place at the table, a stake in his or her future, and where every child bears witness to the realization of a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom.


That's what I want. Is that what the flotilla activists want? With all due respect to the dead, I tend to doubt it.


Let's start with the assumption that the activists are peace loving people who simply want to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. OK. But why not allow the ship to be inspected? The other ships were inspected and the humanitarian goods were sent directly to Gaza. Such is the case with the many ships and trucks that deliver aid to Gaza on a daily basis. Why did the activists on the Mavi Marmara not cooperate in this regard? Could it be that they were trying to deliver more than humanitarian supplies?


There are other troubling questions which come to mind. The activists, according to extensive video footage, seemed highly prepared for a violent confrontation. They wielded weapons such as knives, handguns, steel rods, and chains. And when the Israeli soldiers first came on board, albeit by helicopter, they were violently attacked by an angry mob, and in fact, one of them was thrown overboard. This happened before the soldiers started shooting, when they were armed with paint-ball guns. Do peace activists normally resort to violence so easily? Is that what peace is all about?


Other questions come to mind. Why was a prayer meeting held on the ship with the call for the downfall of the "Zionist Entity" and for Shuhad (suicide in the name of Allah)? Why did the Arab Media report that the flotilla activists were writing wills, preparing for martyrdom, and determined to reach Gaza or die? Why was Senanur Bengi, one of the activists, quoted as saying, "I love my father very much.  I miss him a lot. He asked me if I want something. I replied him that I hope he would become a martyr?"


Does this incident strike you as an example of peace loving activists who want to help by delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza? What's all this martyrdom talk all about? Since when has martyrdom become a pre-requisite for humanitarian aid?


Is Israel without blame in all this? No. The violent confrontation could probably have been avoided with better planning on Israel's part. And some would criticize Israel for imposing the blockade in the first place. But a good case could be made that Israel's actions do comply with international law. Israel and Gaza have been, and are still, at war. Thousands of missiles and mortars were launched from Gaza into Israel's cities, putting some 250,000 Israelis in harm's way. Hamas has stated publicly, over and over again, its determination to liquidate the Jewish State. Hamas gets its funding and weapons from Iran, who has also expressed its desire to "wipe Israel off the map." Is it that unreasonable to inspect incoming ships for weapons, considering that weapons are being smuggled into Gaza on a daily basis? Would you expect any less of your government under similar circumstances?


Could Israel be doing more to advance the cause of peace? Yes. A lot more. But advancing the cause of peace should not, and cannot, come at the expense of security, especially when a nation is facing existential threats on a daily basis.


My hunch, although I could be wrong, is that the flotilla activists, or at least some of them, were determined to break the blockade, and in so doing, provoke a violent confrontation with Israel. In short, they were looking for a fight. At least some of the people, I hate to say it; do not want an end to the occupation. They do not want a peace treaty. They do not want two states living side by side in partnership and peace. They want; I'll call it as I see it, nothing less than to dismantle the Jewish State.


And what better way to begin the process of dismantling the Jewish State, than by first undertaking to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world? In this public relations war, a war which Israel has failed to win, what better way to delegitimize Israel than to provoke her into attacking a flotilla of humanitarian aid? It's perfect. Let Israel fall on her own sword, and she did. And such an effort at delgitimization is part and parcel of an international effort to demonize Israel, and to use that platform to call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS).


It is the ultimate irony, however, that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East. She is the solution. Eran Shayshon, who works for a think tank in Israel, wants to rebrand Israel as the fount of "creative energy." He emphasizes her high tech and science, burgeoning economy, entrepreneurial zeal, energetic lifestyle, and vibrant diversity of opinion and culture. I would add that Israel is a vibrant democracy that for the most part, protects the rights of minorities including her 20% Arab minority. As far as I'm concerned, it would not be an exaggeration to say that if you destroy Israel, you destroy the hope for the Middle East. Israel offers a lot of what the Middle East needs. Israel is one of the few examples in the Middle East that inspires a sense of hope. And for some, that's exactly the problem. Couldn't the Middle East benefit from some of what Israel has to offer? And couldn't Israel benefit from partnering with the Arab world? What keeps us from making that happen except an allegiance to wrong-headed thinking?


I may seem overly cynical to some. I'm not. Hope and peace resonate loudly in the very being of my soul. But I would like to believe that I see things as they are, at least some of the time. I understand that passions run high on both sides of this issue. In the final analysis, however, I cannot help but conclude that the flotilla was not simply an honest effort at humanitarian aid. It was designed and executed as a provocation, with violence and martyrdom as the intended outcome.


Such efforts may make some feel good about themselves, but they will not bring peace. For peace to come we will have to find the courage and the wisdom to let go of some of our closely held beliefs, in favor of ideas we can believe in even more, like Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom



file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 11 May 2010 5:11 PM
Peace In The Middle East: A Mosaic Of Mutual Self-Interest Posted by Nissim Dahan
The Middle East is home to some of the finest mosaics the world has ever known. Most of them date back to antiquity and bear stark witness to the passage of time. But what about now? Do you think it would be possible to create yet a new mosaic in our time, a work of art even more glorious than those which came before? Is it possible to arrange the broken pieces of the Middle East, in just the right way, so as to create a mosaic of mutual self-interest, a mosaic which inspires a sense of hope, and which brings into being the realization of a vision of peace, prosperity, and freedom?


Where do we start? We could start with the West Bank of Palestine, and try to convince the powers that be, the political and business elite, as well as men and women on the ground, that a Hamas takeover in the West Bank would bring to an abrupt end their dream for a new, vibrant, and prosperous Palestine. What happened in Gaza is a case in point. And we would suggest, as diplomatically as we can, that it is perhaps Israel, as ironic as it may seem, which is best positioned to guarantee security, to stave off the threat posed by Hamas, and to help grow the economy even more. Could the offer of security, along with economic growth, within the parameters of the 2000 Camp David talks, be the basis of a peace deal between Israel and Palestine? And could Palestine be the first piece that gives birth to our mosaic?


And then we could approach Israel and suggest, ever so politely, that as strong as she is, she still needs help to meet the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Even unilateral action by Israel, against the nuclear facilities in Iran, would need a wider base of support. If oil prices rise exponentially as a result of such an attack, or if terror abounds, Israel will surely need some backing from the U.S., the West, and large segments of the Arab world. Could Israel be persuaded to undertake a credible peace process in the West Bank of Palestine, as a way of gaining the credibility and support needed in her struggle with Iran? And could Israel be the second piece of our mosaic?


We could then move onward to Saudi Arabia, and suggest, ever so respectfully, that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to the Saudi leadership, especially as they contend with a restless Shiite minority, and a frustrated young generation without work. Could a credible peace process in the West Bank of Palestine be the impetus the Saudis need to make peace with Israel on the basis of the 2001 Arab Peace Plan? And could an agreement of this sort lead to a regional military/economic alliance, including Israel and the Arab states, by which these nations meet the security challenge posed by extremists in Iran, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., and by which they undertake together to create good paying jobs; jobs which grow their respective economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking? Could Saudi capital and Israeli ingenuity be partnered together to revitalize the Middle East with good paying green jobs? Could oil profits be used to generate green profits? And could Saudi be the third piece of our mosaic?


And then we could pay a visit to Hamas, preferably in a crowded and public setting, and suggest, ever so cautiously, that the peace, prosperity, and freedom in the West Bank, may cause the people in Gaza to wonder, "Hey, where is our share?" Could Hamas be persuaded that a restless and weary citizenry could mean an existential threat to their rule? And could Hamas be persuaded to join in on job creation by allowing an industrial zone to be built between Israel and Gaza which would create some 200,000 jobs, and which could go a long way to solving the economic and environmental problems which have yet to be addressed, such as water shortages and the like? Could Hamas thereby legitimate its hold on power and compete legitimately with Fattah, on the basis of jobs, not terror. And could Hamas be the fourth piece of our mosaic?


It could be argued that we would be remiss in our duties if we don't at least try to approach Iran. We could point out that in light of the anger of the people, and the economic downturn, and in light of a new economic/military cooperation between some of the Arab states and Israel, it may behoove the leaders in Iran to become part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, and to reorient their agenda in favor of job creation and environmental protection. In this way, Iran could still have its impact in the region, but in a way that empowers others to work with her, instead of plotting against her. And could Iran, thereby, become a fifth piece of our mosaic?


With the proper foundation, our mosaic would continue to grow in size and stature, as other Arab states join in, and become equal partners in this monumental effort to keep the peace, to grow the economies, and to unleash the potential of the people by blessing them with the gift of freedom. As time passes, the divergent and broken pieces of the Middle East will be held together not by love for one another, although that may come in due time, and not by a compulsion to do the right thing, although this too may come one day. The pieces of our mosaic will be held together by the cement of mutual self-interest. And there is no greater form of self-interest than the need to survive in the face of some very common threats, threats which threaten us all, such as extremist thinking, the lack of jobs, and a short supply of cool, clean, drinking water.


file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 10 Mar 2010 1:57 PM
What Will It Take To Cut A Deal? Posted by Nissim Dahan
President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu may soon embark on yet another round of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Each leader, in his own way, faces daunting challenges, in part because he must answer to ideological constituencies which are vehemently opposed to the concessions which are part and parcel of the peace process. Netanyahu, for example, will face an uphill fight convincing his right-wing coalition to compromise on Jerusalem. And in a similar vein, Abbas could be relegated "traitor status" for compromising on such contentious issues as the "right of return." And yet, a successful outcome of these talks could be the spark that lights the fire of change in the region, and for that matter, in the world as a whole.


As difficult as it will be to contain dissent from within, so much more so will it be difficult to contain dissent from without. Due to a number of factors, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been accorded a symbolic significance way beyond the four corners of the conflict itself. Chances are good that if the conflict would have been limited to a territorial dispute between two peoples, an equitable agreement could have been reached long ago. But because so many other players forced themselves into the picture, players who were not and are not directly involved, the prospects for peace have remained dim at best. And thus, parties outside the conflict itself, including extremist elements, have helped to keep the conflict alive, for their own purposes, and for a whole host of reasons, including the desire to divert attention from internal problems of governance, and as a way of consolidating political support for governments and groups which may otherwise have failed to garner such support.


The question arises, therefore: Given this debilitating cocktail of internal opposition and external pressure, what will Abbas and Netanyahu need to do to maneuver through this politically charged ideological minefield, in an effort to broker a peace deal? The answer may be that the negotiations themselves will have to be strategically positioned within the context of a higher and brighter vision for the future, within a Vision of Hope, so as to rise above the political fray, and beyond the restraints that have been imposed by domestic and foreign players. In other words, because the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been manipulated to embody the ideological imperatives of so many diverse constituencies, Abbas and Netanyahu, if they are to succeed on peace, will have no choice but to sell a new vision to the man on the street, so as to elevate the negotiations themselves to a higher level, a level that rises above the crippling narrow agendas of the past.


What sort of vision would be required to give the peace talks a chance? Such a vision, a Vision of Hope, would have to be multi-faceted so as to address all the various impediments to peace. A Vision of Hope would include five parts, like the five fingers of your hand:


Ideology: If there are ideological forces at work which seek to impede the peace process, Abbas and Netanyahu should formulate and use a new ideology, a new framework for rational discourse, An Ideology of Common Sense, to speak to one another, and to the world for that matter, with common sense and with a sense of personal dignity. Words matter, and the right kind of words, used in just the right kind of way, can inspire a sense of hope, which will help raise the level of discourse to a much higher level. Instead of believing in what we want to believe, it may well be time to start believing in what makes sense. Instead of jumping to false belief and rationalizing why we're right, why not use rationality in the fist place to arrive at what is worth believing in? In a more perfect world, common sense, the collective wisdom born of shared experience, will inspire our thinking and inform our speech. In our fractured world, common sense is the common denominator.


Investment: If extremist groups on both sides of the political fence use charitable handouts to consolidate political support, Abbas and Netanyahu should discuss, as part of the negotiations, using international investment dollars to create jobs: jobs which grow their economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking. The idea here is to win hearts and minds by giving everyone a place at the table, a stake in his or her future, in a sustainable world.


Hope: If the extremists in the region have worked to engender and sustain a sense of dread about the future, then Abbas and Netanyahu would do well to use An Ideology of Common Sense along with some well placed Investment Dollars to sell their people on a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom. Luckily, the formula for world peace is not all that complicated: Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace.


Public Diplomacy: If the extremists continue to use their propaganda machine to disseminate hate, then Abbas and Netanyahu should not only sell a Vision of Hope, but should sustain a sense of hope by launching a series of public diplomacy programs which are specifically designed to prop the vision up, and to carry it forward, such as: a program to Empower Women, a Student Exchange, a Cultural Exchange, an expanded version of the Peace Corps, a Media Campaign, and a set of International Conferences. Take, for example, the program to Empower Women by financing female entrepreneurs and promoting women's rights. Empower Palestinian and Israeli women in ways that they deem appropriate, and you will have changed the dynamics of the conflict. Who are women? They are the givers of life and the caretakers of life and as such are uniquely qualified to reconstitute their societies consistent with a Vision of Hope.


The Willingness to Fight: If the extremists, on both sides of the fence, use terror to impede peace, then Abbas and Netanyahu would do well to collaborate militarily, perhaps as part of a regional military and economic alliance, to stave off the threats from extremist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and even groups in Israel which lean toward violence. If we already have to fight against the forces of extremism, and we do, then we will fight, and fight hard, but we will also position the fight within a Vision of Hope. We will raise the fight on the ground to a higher moral plain by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. People will fight harder if they know what they're fighting for. We are not fighting a "war against terror." We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope. There's a big difference.


If the upcoming negotiations are to succeed, there is no choice but to win the war for hearts and minds. Abbas and Netanyahu can maximize the chances for success on the peace front by daring to embody a Vision of Hope, and selling the vision to the man on the street. In fact, given the heavy weight from within and without, that attaches itself to the peace process, and the ideological extremism that has prevented any success in this regard, these two leaders will have to develop strategies to beat the odds, by beating the extremists at their own game. If they play their cards right, they can co-opt the extremists' strategy and thereby marginalize them in the eyes of their own people. So, for example, if the extremists are ideological about Jihad, or a Greater Israel, or what have you, we will be ideological about Common Sense. If they invest in charity, we will invest in jobs. If they sell a vision of hope for martyrdom, or paradise, or additional settlements, we will sell a Vision of Hope for Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom. At every turn we will cut them off at the pass and beat them at their own game. In the final analysis, the ideological extremists on both sides will not be able to capture the public's imagination, once people begin to imagine a better life for themselves. Some will say that all this may be a bit naïve or over the top. But as we are fond of saying: This may well be the time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible and to make the impossible come true.


file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 10 Feb 2010 4:30 PM
The Peace Puzzle Posted by Nissim Dahan
Peace in the Middle East has long been an illusive dream, but there are hints in the air that peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israel may soon be underway, and that this time around, some measure of success may be in the offing.


What indications do we have that negotiations are imminent? In late December, for example, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a convention of Israeli diplomats and made it clear that his intent is to conclude a peace deal based on two states for two people. He said, "The time for excuses is over. Now's the time for action." Such words could easily be dismissed as self-serving, but perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye. At around the same time, Netanyahu invited Zippi Livny, the leader of the opposition, to join his government. Was this simply an empty and cynical gesture, or could Netanyahu be seriously interested in enlarging his coalition, to counter a defection by some of his supporters in the wake of peace negotiations and the concessions which will have to be made? In addition, Yossi Beilin, one of the chief architects of the Oslo Accords, said recently that Netanyahu is very close to finalizing the terms of reference (TOR), or preliminary understandings, for a renewal of talks.


There are other indications that talks may soon be underway. With respect to reducing the number of roadblocks, and curbing settlement construction in the West Bank, Netanyahu has gone further than any previous Israeli government. Is this due simply to pressure from the U.S., or could it be something more? In addition, after Netanyahu met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on December 31, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit offered rare words of praise for Netanyahu, thanking him for raising new ideas and advancing the peace process. Reportedly, Netanyahu was quoted as saying, "Help me with Abbas and I will be ready to go for a far-reaching deal."


These and other indications all point to an imminent resumption of peace talks, but the question still remains: What reason is there, this time around, to expect a successful outcome from the negotiations which may soon be underway? The answer may be that a peace deal may be in the offing not because the two sides love one another, but because for the first time, they need one another, in a substantial way, and this sense of mutual need may be shared by many of the key players in the region, and beyond.


Why would Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank, be inclined to conclude a peace deal at this time? It is clear to many observers that Fatah and Hamas find themselves locked in an existential battle for survival. The more moderate and secular Palestinians in the West Bank, including members of the Fatah leadership, do not want to see a takeover by Hamas fundamentalists, as occurred in Gaza. To stave off this threat, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has launched and is implementing a two-year state-building plan, which is similar to Netanyahu's vision of peace through economic prosperity, and which includes General Dayton's training of Palestinian security forces. Economic prosperity and job creation, along with a consolidation and strengthening of the security apparatus, would be an effective way of containing Hamas. Israel could play a major role on both these fronts, economy and security: helping with job creation, taking down more roadblocks, bringing in foreign investment, and helping to consolidate Palestinian security, perhaps as part of a regional military and economic alliance, in exchange for a peace deal.


But why would Israel be inclined to push the peace process forward at this time? The answer is relatively straight forward: Iran. Just as Hamas poses an existential threat to Fatah, so too does Iran, with its nuclear and foreign policy ambitions, pose an existential threat to Israel. And Israel, in order to stave off this threat, will need international support from the region, and from the international community at large. Such support will be needed even if Israel acts unilaterally to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. The negative repercussions from such an attack will be significant, and Israel will require international consensus and support to mitigate the effects of these repercussions. A peace deal with Palestine will give Israel some measure of credibility, as she undertakes to contain the Iranian threat.


And why would the nations of the region be likely now to support a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, when in the past it served their interests to block such an agreement? The answer, once again, is relatively simple: Iran. The existential struggle between Hamas and Fatah, and between Israel and Iran, is even more pronounced between Iran and many of the Sunni states of the region. Iran undertakes, on many levels, to challenge many of the quiet understandings that have been reached in much of the Arab world, and poses a credible threat to many of the regimes in the region. Iran does not hide her intention to foment unrest using her various proxies, and a nuclear Iran would render that threat even more palpable. A regional nuclear arms race would likely ensue, bringing even more instability to an already volatile region.


And why would the United States, the Europeans, and large segments of the international community, be likely to support a peace deal between Israel and Palestine? The answer, once again is not difficult to fathom: To insure the free flow of oil, and to gain a measure of credibility in the fight against ideological extremism. Peace in the Middle East would go a long way to mitigate the volatility of the region, and would bring some semblance of stability to the price and supply of oil. In addition, an historic peace deal of this sort, along with the regional cooperation and even prosperity which would be engendered as a result, would go a long way to weaken the appeal of extremist thinking, even though much more would have to be done in this regard.


In sum, while it is always difficult to predict what will happen in the Middle East, especially when it comes to peace, there may be some reason for optimism due to the unique alignment of self-interest among the key players in the region, and beyond. Usually, self-interest takes us in different directions from one another. In this case, however, it may be the key to bringing us together in common purpose.





file under: PalestineMiddle East PeaceIsrael 4 Dec 2009 1:39 PM
Peace in the Middle East Posted by Nissim Dahan
Peace in the Middle East is still only a dream, but the actual terms of a final peace agreement between Palestinians, at least in the West Bank, and Israelis, are not all that difficult to imagine.


Security: Israel would prefer for the new Palestinian state to be demilitarized. Palestinians in the West Bank, however, do not want to see a Hamas takeover there. They see what happened in Gaza, and have a very different vision for the West Bank. Therefore, a deal may be possible by which Israel, as part of a multi-national force, including several Arab states, will agree to guarantee the security of Palestine, even against Hamas, in exchange for an agreement to keep the new Palestinian state demilitarized.


Settlements: The vast majority of settlements will be turned over to Palestinians. Some of them, however, will become part of Israel, in exchange for an equal amount of Israeli land. Let's look at the numbers. There are approximately 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Some 220,000 live in several settlement blocks, which will probably become part of Israel, as part of a land swap. That leaves 80,000 settlers, 40,000 of whom will agree to leave the settlements in exchange for compensation, and 40,000 of whom are die-hard believers. The Jews who refuse to leave can become citizens of Palestine, just as Arabs are citizens of Israel, to the tune of 20% of the population. Prime Minister Fayyad has said that he would not be opposed to Jews becoming citizens of a new Palestine.


Borders: Once the issue of settlements is resolved, the final borders between Israel and Palestine can be drawn up accordingly. The final borders will likely be very close to the 1967 borders. Approximately 4-6% of the West Bank will be retained by Israel in exchange for land swaps of Israeli land. Some the land swaps could include a roadway to Gaza, for example.


Jerusalem: Jerusalem is a contentious issue, to say the least, because of the religious significance she holds for all three Abrahamic religions. Israel would probably insist that Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of the Jewish state. However, this issue could be finessed by giving Palestinians a certain measure of sovereignty in the areas where they predominate, as well as control over Islam's holy sites. This could be done without technically "dividing" the city, but simply recognizing, in a formal way, the demographic divisions that already exist there. If Jerusalem is truly the City of Peace, then why not use her to usher in an age of peace?


Refugees: Israel will not allow the Palestinian refugees and their descendents to enter Israel and become citizens. Such a move would destroy Israel as a Jewish state. However, a certain number of Palestinian refugees, as determined by Israel, could be allowed to return to Israel for humanitarian purposes. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees would be entitled to become citizens of a new Palestine, and would be compensated by Israel for the losses which they and their families suffered. The number of 30 billion dollars was discussed in previous negotiations. Some of this money could be used to build institutions in Palestine, including: revitalizing the economy, promoting education, instituting the rule of law, sponsoring student exchanges, etc.


Gaza: It is unlikely that Hamas would buy into such arrangements, at least for the time being. Therefore, a Palestinian state could be declared in the West Bank only, at least for now. However, as peace, prosperity, and freedom begin to take hold in the West Bank of Palestine, Hamas would be under extreme pressure to follow suit in terms of job creation, or face the wrath of its people in Gaza. As such, if Hamas decides to legitimate its hold on power, with good paying jobs and the like, it too can become part of the new Palestinian state, or declare its own statehood.


So you see, on the surface, at least, the terms of a peace deal are not so difficult to fathom. What is difficult is to get people on both sides to take a second look, to become more open, and to embrace the possibility of peaceful co-existence. Getting that to happen will require us to stop blaming each other, and to look inwardly, and to ask ourselves what sort of future we want for ourselves, for our children, and for the countless generations of children yet to come.