Forum: Coexisting requires dialogue, tolerance
At issue: Have recent events in the Middle East set back, or eliminated, progress toward a Palestinian state? What must each side (Israel and Palestine) do to reach peace, or has the Palestinian Authorities fragmentation made it impossible?
Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?
Yes, but "how" is what most people don’t agree on.
Typically, there are three scenarios:
First, there will never be peace; Muslims and Jews have been fighting in that area for centuries.
Second, there can only be peace when there is a single, secular state that is not run by any religion.
Third, only when Israelis pull out of all occupied territories and allow Palestinians to return to the land taken from them will there be peace.
History has proven the first scenario false. While there were times of repression and segregation and Muslims and Jews did not coexist peacefully, for the most part, Jews and Muslims have peacefully lived together in Arab lands for centuries.
History has also shown us, from the Roman expulsion, to the Crusades and up to the horrors of the Holocaust, there must be a Jewish state. Jews have been the scapegoat for the world and have suffered because of it. The idea of a singular state would take away the only safe haven that Jews can go to if and when they are suffering from anti-Semitism.
The last scenario for peace is on some levels the most promising prospect. It is believed by many, that anyone who supports Israel automatically does not support the Palestinians. This is not the case. Many Israelis feel that there should be a Palestinian state, that the settlers in the West Bank should be pulled out and moved back to Israel.
In 2005, all Israelis – soldiers and settlers – pulled out of Gaza and left it for the Palestinians. And for almost two years now, rockets have been fired from the border into Israel and on civilians. Armed fighters have pushed into Israel to engage the Israeli Defense Forces, only to pull back and have the Israelis follow and then claim the "Israelis started it."
With the Hamas takeover in Gaza and the splitting of Palestinian rule between the West Bank and Gaza, prospects for peace look grim, often dead. But we cannot allow this to happen.
Israel has always wanted to make peace with her Arab neighbors and the Palestinians. But it has been to the benefit of Palestinian and Arab leaders to use the horrid conditions Palestinians live in as a justification for claiming they will "destroy the Zionist occupiers," all the while keeping Palestinians in camps, murdering them or not giving them citizenship yet claiming they have their best interests at heart.
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only come when the Arab world takes responsibility for its actions. Arab rejection of Israel and Israel’s right to exist has exacerbated the situation in which Palestinians find themselves.
It is argued that Zionism and Jewish claims to Israel only began with Theodore Herzl, yet Jews have lived in the land of Israel for 3,500 years. Zionist yearnings have been in the prayers and culture of Jews since their expulsion by the Romans.
On the other hand, Israel must reconcile itself with being the "Jewish state" yet ensuring that all of its citizens – Jews, Christians and Muslims – are given full and equal rights. Israel must pull back to the 1967 lines and allow Palestinians to create their own state.
On the Palestinian side, they must be able to talk honestly about the future of Jerusalem. The idea that Israel can give up East Jerusalem, with the holiest site of Judaism there, is preposterous. Under Jordanian rule, Jews and Christians were barred from entering their holiest sites. Without guarantee, a tangible guarantee, Israel cannot in good conscience allow East Jerusalem to become that way again.
The final and most important prospect for peace is when there is a true partner on the Palestinian side with which to work. Without that, Israel has the duty to protect the life of her citizens, which includes the building of the security barrier.
Terror has built the wall, but only peace can bring it down.
Clancy, a political science senior, can be reached via [email protected]