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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.

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Up to 500 feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck last week
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Listen to an interview with Nissim Dahan on the Tom Marr Show.

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Vision of Hope
file under: vision of hopepeaceeconomic development 11 Sep 2007 12:35 PM
Will Israelis and Palestinians Buy Into A Vision Of Hope? Posted by Nissim Dahan

You can't talk about peace in the Middle East, without talking about Israel and the Palestinians. While it is true that an accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians will have to be reached for there to be peace in the Middle East, it is also true that such an accommodation, in and of itself, will not bring peace to the entire region. In other words, the issues to be resolved in the Middle East go beyond the issues that divide Israel and a future Palestine.


In fact, it could well be argued that the ideological divide between the Western world and parts of the Muslim world would still be there even if Israel never came into existence. However, there is no question that resolving the issues between Israel and the Palestinians would go a long way to bridge the far wider ideological divide between the West and the Muslim world. In a way, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a microcosm of the wider conflict in the Middle East. Solving one will help to solve the other, and vice versa.


What is all the fighting about between Israel and the Palestinians? Experts point to all sorts of causes rooted in history. In the final analysis, there are equities on both sides of the conflict, as is usually the case. Jews trace their historical roots in the land of Israel for over 3000 years. Jews came to the conclusion, after some 2000 years of homelessness and persecution, culminating in the diabolical travesty of the Holocaust, that without a state of their own, they would have no future as a people.


Palestinians, on the other hand, believe that at least some of their people were unjustly displaced from their land when the state of Israel came into being. After Israel became a state in 1948, a great many Palestinians stayed in Israel, became citizens, and currently enjoy the highest standard of living in the Arab world. Arabs comprise about 20% of Israel's population.


Some Palestinians, however, were displaced from their homes either due to their own fears about the new state, or for security reasons during the War of Independence, or because the surrounding Arab nations told them to leave so that Israel could be destroyed, and they could then return to their homes.


But such was not the case. Israel repelled the invading Arab armies, and was not destroyed, and some 700,000 Palestinians became refugees in Arab lands, and have not been integrated into their host countries as ordinary citizens. It is also true, by the way, that as a result of the founding of the state of Israel; some 850,000 Jews were also expatriated and exiled from Arab countries in which they had lived for generations.


The question remains: Why, after so many attempts at brokering the peace, have all the attempts failed?


In the year 2000 President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak, as part of the final status talks of the Oslo Agreements, offered President Arafat most of what Palestinians had been asking for: between 94 and 96 percent of the West Bank, 1 to 3 percent of Israeli land to offset the 4 to 6 percent that Israel would keep for security purposes, all of Gaza, a Palestinian state with Arab Jerusalem as its capital, complete control of East Jerusalem and the Arab Quarter of the Old city, as well as the entire Temple Mount, along with 30 billion dollars to compensate refugees who would relocate to the new Palestine, and a dismantlement of most of the settlements in the West Bank. Arafat rejected the offer, made no counter offer, and a four year second Intifada ensued. Why did the peace effort fail?


People who rush to the peace table are often doomed to fail. This is particularly true of Israelis and Palestinians, where the levels of resentment and distrust know no bounds. People have to be conditioned for peace, in order to tip the balance in favor of peace. When it came to the peace offer made to President Arafat, the offer itself could not tip the balance in favor of peace, because people on both sides of the conflict remained too heavily invested in the mindset of war.


Leaders on both sides of the conflict, if they are to cut a deal, must come to believe that the advantages of peace will outweigh whatever advantages there are in maintaining a state of war. And we shouldn't fool ourselves. For some leaders in the Middle East, the threat of war is an effective propaganda tool for consolidating political power, for maintaining political control, and for diverting attention from internal political, economic, and social problems.


So how do you bring peace to Israel and to a future Palestine? Strangely enough, as you may have guessed, you sell each side on a Vision of Hope. Just as Selling a Vision of Hope could help bridge the ideological divide between the Western world and the Muslim world, so too can it help bring peace to Israel and Palestine. Israelis and Palestinians should begin to speak to one another with common sense and with a sense of personal dignity. Israelis should invest in a new Palestine, and begin to revitalize the economy of that forsaken region.


With investment will come jobs, and with jobs will come hope, and with hope will come the inclination to embrace the possibility of peace. Even your enemy will cut you a break if you speak to him with words that respect his dignity, and you show him that his welfare is your concern by investing in his future. In this way, you can inspire in him a sense of hope, and with hope all things are possible, even the impossible dream of peace. After conditioning each side in this manner, the peace table becomes a much more viable option.


The key to peace between Israel and Palestine is justice. Yes, there have been injustices in the past, on both sides of the fence. So the question remains: How do you bring justice?


As Israelis, do you continue to occupy a foreign land, and restrict your policy alternatives based on perceived, and perhaps real, existential threats? Or do you reach out for new possibilities by forging alliances with moderate Palestinians, and thereby marginalizing the extremists in the eyes of their own people?


As Palestinians, do you narrow your focus, and invest your energies in destroying Israel? Will that bring justice? Or do you instead partner with Israel, with all her technological and economic strengths, to help revitalize the economy of a new, and vibrant, and prosperous Palestine? Which option will really bring justice? Which option is really in the best interest of all concerned? Which option makes more sense?

Comments (2)Add Comment
Role of Syria in Middle East Peace Solution?
written by Bruce, September 17, 2007
Great site. Very intelligent, positive and hopeful dialogue on a very important topic.

My question is what role will Syria likely play in any Middle East peace plan and how do the recent rumors of Syria getting nuclear technology and equipment from North Korea play into this?

Re: Role of Syria in Middle East Peace Solution?
written by Nissim Dahan, September 18, 2007
Thank you for your kind comments Bruce. We would be honored to hear from you on a regular basis.

With regard to your question, there is no doubt that Syria will have to play a vital role in any comprehensive peace plan in the Middle East. I realize that Syria is currently allying itself with fundamentalist regimes like Iran and her proxy, Hizbullah. But actually, Syria is a secular state, and religious fundamentalism does not hold much sway there. If the West reaches out to Syria, ideologically and economically, and if Israel follows suit, I can see them realigning their alliances, and moving closer toward peace. There are such talks taking place as we speak.

As for nuclear aspirations, there is no question that rogue extremist regimes will try to acquire nuclear weapons, because possession of such weapons is a defense shield, of sorts, against any outside interference. How fast would we have attacked the Taliban, for example, if they possessed nuclear weapons? It is precisely becuase of this grave danger that we in the West must begin Selling a Vision of Hope. Partnering with nations like Syria, will lessen their perceived need for nuclear weapons. In addition, Selling a Vision of Hope will embolden us, with moral clarity of purpose, to take military action against nuclear weapons facilities, when that is the only viable alternative left on the table.
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