By Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
Danny Schecter, a Harvard Faculty (“Obama’s Betrayal Offer Lessons We can’t Deny.” Free Thought Manifesto: 9/16/2011) quotes a rational perspective of David Foster:
"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness ………It is about simple awareness – awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over…"
If the Israelis and Arabs were conscious of time and history and the imperatives of freedom from the tyranny of subjugation and dehumanization of which both Jews and Arabs had historical experience, they should have viewed the issue of Palestine in rational terms rather than escaping from the facts of human life. Israelis do not live in peace with occupation of Palestinian homes and lands, if they had genuine sense of attachment to Palestine, would they be killing the fellow human beings and destroying the natural habitat of Palestine? Palestinians are displaced and scattered all over the world because they lacked proactive vision, organization, purpose of unity, intelligent leadership and social-political understanding how to communicate with the occupier of diverse socio-political and religious spectrum. Both parties are victims of their own emotions and cultural heritage to overwhelm the political ambitions. If military power was to be the determinant factor for the future of nations, Hitler and Mussolini would still be alive not lost and disgraced, Israeli should know and learn but peacemaking and conflict management could have been sorted out if both – the progeny of Abrahaimic Faith were in contact, talking and not fighting with each other. Politicians are not the people to resolve problems, they are more problematic by their Nature of Things as they live and survive on problems to get elected and re-elected. If there were no problems (fair or foul), politicians are more useless creatures – a social, moral and financial burden on societal conscience, than being useful to human community. Why is it that Jewish and Muslim scholars could not talk for problem solving and contemplate co-existence?
Politics is a game of pretension like a stage drama enacted by planned scheme of things, casts, dresses, clichés, performance images and the end goals- a willing suspicion of the disbelief of the performed act. The actors pretend to be something; they are not but make the audience feel entertained with unthinkable. The Western democracies enjoin systematic programs of political good time with billions of dollars budgeted for the information media, performers, perks, imposters and the real actors – politicians making stage shows to win the game. Politics is about winning, not losing the invisible battlefield. There exists a wide gulf in ideas and perceptions how the Israeli politicians define political games and what the Arab rulers perceive of the intents and purposes of politics. The puppet show goes on for ages with the blessings of the European colonialists and the US intermediaries claiming to be the proponent of peace but none knows what peace means in the real world.
The rebellious and wicked against peace, freedom and justice were rewarded by the European conquests, whereas, poor and destitute were scolded by progressive animosity and insanity in international political governance. E.H. Carr points out a learning role of the history. But history sees the people and nations by their actions, not by their claims. The so called superpower nations leading the global political arena have denied the determining role of the history and the resulting war continues to engulf the humanity all over the globe. The Arab-Israeli conflict is explicitly outcome of the superpower politics. Once again, the stage for dialogue is set with superficial issues and ambiguous agendas to undo the prospects of a real peace between the contending parties.
Israelis and Palestinians are at crossroads as the opportunities for peaceful and negotiated resolutions of the emerging conflicts – more critical and multidimensional than what were in 1948, seem to get obscure and disappear from the rational course of actions. The State of Israel was established on a resolution of the UN General Assembly, why the same principle and action is objectionable to the current Israeli leaders for an independent State of Palestine? Jews had no home country until 1948, but Palestinians have been living for centuries in what was Palestine (now Israel), strange as is that Jews under the British colonial mandate can migrate to Palestine from different parts of the globe and take others land and build settlements but Palestinian can not go back and reclaim their homes. When the European tortured and killed Jews for ages, Arabs were the people and societies to welcome Jews and offer social and political asylum and appoint them to position of distinctions and honor. What a tragedy of history that Jews coming to Palestine do not view the Palestinians as humans with equal rights and dignity. There appears to be something terribly wrong with human thinking, conscience and rational outlook.
Both parties talk about peace and futuristic relations in abstract terms. If reason and facts of human life are to be the basis of dialogue for peace, let the non-belligerent representatives of societies deal with it. Let the religious and social – peace activists and intelligent scholars assume the role and responsibilities of conflict resolution and peace-making. Why? Because for over sixty years, the politicians have failed to produce any positive outcomes. By now, we know and realize that politicians are misfit for sustainable human development and co-existence between divergent societies and nations.
If the Israelis, Arabs, European and Americans are serious and committed to peacemaking in the Middle East, they must transform this responsibility into practical actions to create a conducive political environment in their sphere of interest to encourage the both parties – the masses for open minded exchange of social, moral and political thoughts and practices. The ordinary folks on both sides of the aisle cannot be ignored. The 6th decade old perpetuated animosities between the Arab and Israelis will not go away with the blink of eyes. Have the Arab-Israeli politicians given enough thoughts to these pre-requisites for the emergence of peace talks? The realities on the ground speak a different language although sign are there for understanding the relative importance of the new peace endeavors. There should have been a formal and well defined agenda to facilitate the favorable dialogue for peace. Such a move should have given the feeling to the belligerent viewpoints that something different and positive is in the making. For the agenda setting, the primary onus is on the US-Israel to demonstrate clearly that:
- All the illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, West Bank and other occupied locations must be stopped and subject to discussion for removal or adjustments.
- Under the original UN mandate, Jerusalem was recognized as an International City open to all three religions- Christian, Jews and Muslims. Now, East Jerusalem must be returned to become a Capital for the State of Palestine.
- Removal of the inhuman barbed–wired culture and walls from Palestine reminding of the Nazi era treatment and captivity of the Jewish people- a shame that East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza areas depict that image in the 21st century so called civilized world
- To allow free movement of people and goods across the occupied territories
- End of the blockade of Gaza
- In spirit and reality the end of the Israeli occupation paving ways for the freedom of Palestinian homeland.
Strangely enough, none of these vital factors were considered relevant by George Mitchell or the Obama adminsitration claiming to be the proponent of peacemaking.
Take no solace; the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict is as critical in global politics of the 21st century as it was in the mid 20th century. The global institutions such as the UNO failed miserably to evaluate its value in human terms. The continued animosity fed insanity leading to institutionalization of fear and mutual distrust over six decades. Since the Israelis and Arabs have opened-up the corridors of backdoor politics, would reason prevail over insanity to articulate a new hope for a promising future and durable peace in the Middle East?
All the actors in the peace dialogue process appear active and energetic to compete for global attention, recognition and credibility data. Islam emancipated the Arabs to develop a knowledge-based global civilization unparallel in human history. Its progressive achievements and contributions to the making of the European civilization are second to none. But with petro-dollar transitory prosperity, the Arabs seem to have compromised the norms and principles of Islam, they fell in humiliation and defeats and confined to remote palaces, not mindful of the world around them. They breathe and enjoy life on foreign myths and political clichés, misfit for the Arab-Islamic culture. If the wealthy Arab rulers were open to communication and listening to the voices of REASON and HONESTY by Muslim scholars, they could have made the earth feel their existence and weight. With massive Western indoctrination, the Arab rulers ignored Islam as a system of governance and adapted modernity of political tyranny against their own people and indifference to the issue of Palestine. Comparatively, Israelis have institutions and political leadership to represent the national interest although divergent viewpoints regularly sustain the Israeli political culture from one extreme to another. The Israeli politicians are fearful that Zionism doctrine is no longer relevant to the foundation of Israel and in recent days they have opened up the debate to call Israel a “Jewish State”- changing the belief from Zionism to Judaism. Some other extreme figures will stall the peace talks by insisting on continued Jewish settlements in the occupied land. Arab rulers date back to the colonial age and lack smart and intellectual foresights to compete with the Israeli strategies, often doing the opposite what was demonstrated to be agreeable and forthcoming. Recall the Israel spokesman at the beginning of the peace talk in early September stating that “Israel is looking for a large cemetery to bury the past” and to make new beginnings for peace talks with Palestinians. Instead, Israeli bulldozers went to the ancient Muslim cemetery in East Jerusalem and started disturbing the dead and removing their graves. One Arab member of the Knesset called it” Israeli war against the living and deads.” Israeli Government has some committed Zionists to oppose any peace initiatives with the Palestinians.
To Allan Hart, “Zionism” is the real enemy of the Jewish people. Now, the Israeli leaders are asking the people to make allegiance to the Jewish state although for all practical purposes, it was a Zionist state. Israeli policy makers enjoin proactive intellectual aims and strategies and are capable to manage navigational change even under most unfavorable circumstances but not the Arab rulers. The Arab world lacks institutions and proactive, educated and intellectual leadership to cope with the contemporary political contrasts and innovative ambiguities in policies and practices. Often the Arab rulers have relied on rear mirror to move forward in relations with Israel and the rest of the world. Islamic faith and civilization gave the Arabs intellectual prominence and successful standing in global affairs. Islamic approaches to governance are institutionalized and focus on people’s consent and advisory for the development of official policies and practices. God fulfilled the promise of authority on earth when the Arabs were in complete submission to God and followed the Islamic system of governance. Islam defines the people of the Book, namely the Jews and Christians as part of the concept of Ummah- One nation originating from the Abrahamic faith. For 800 years, Jews and Christians lived in peace and honor and flourished during the Islamic civilization in Al-Andulus-Spain. In all human affairs, the Arab leaders used to have moral and intellectual superiority as they were dedicated to follow the commands of God. The Divine message (Al-Qura’an: Al-Noor), illustrates the truth clearly, if the contemporary Arab leaders are open to listening, learning and advice:
“Allah has promised to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds,
That He will of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them,
That He will establish in authority their religion- the One which He has chosen for them; And that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they lived to one of security and peace…”
Any time, US Obama administration wants to assemble the herd, they start speculating about peace-making n the Middle East. Subservient Arab rulers would rush to assemble at the conference table without thinking or taking time to analyze the pros and cons of such political moves. One would wish if the contemporary Arab rulers were equipped with knowledge, intelligent mind and public institutions of advisory and accountability, they would have behaved differently and saved themselves from utter embarrassment of being useless and stupid in global affairs. The whole Arab world is in political chaos because of the authoritarianism. The politics is a game of pretension and stage acting overwhelmingly embedded in leadership acts of knowledge and intellectual pursuit to challenge the existing status-quo. But the old-aged Arab rulers have little to share with the knowledge-based modern age of creativity and impressive leadership. They live in palaces, not with people to understand the encompassing realities of the 21st century global politics. Leaders create leaders but rulers inherit the rule, fair or foul. Most of the Arab rulers are authoritarian, and operate in close circuit political cell excluding the voices of reason and intellectual foresights. The phenomenon of change is not allowed in the corridors of palaces, it lives in denials. But the Israelis are the master of change, both in policies and practices. Were the peace talks simply meant to dispel the global anti-Israeli reaction against the brutal attack on the Turkish flotilla sailing to Gaza with humanitarian aid and the killing of 7 innocent Turkish aid volunteers? If so, they have managed to disregard the global criticism with the US complicity and active support. The people of Gaza are suffering from the Israeli blockade and Arab states/leaders combined are not in a strategic position to break the Israeli blockade. Given all the wealth and the illusion of economic prosperity, all the Arab rulers do not weigh on the global scale of leadership role play. If they adapt to listening and learning as critical values for effective leadership, they can be changed and reformed to perform with improved leadership qualities. Learning is vital for the 21st century innovative leadership.
MJ Rosenberg, a Senior Foreign Policy fellow (“The Disaster Known as Netanyahu” Free Thought Manifesto: 9/16/2011) gives a real perspective to a media-run campaign:
“Israel's propaganda machine would have it otherwise. It insists that the Palestinians, and the Arabs and Muslims throughout the world who support them, don't really care about the occupation. Their goal, we are constantly told, is to destroy Israel itself. As proof, they insist that "the Palestinians have never recognised Israel's right to statehood.
This is the kind of thing that used to be called the "big lie." The Palestinians have repeatedly recognised Israel's right to statehood and security within the 1967 borders.”
One wonders, when would the Arab rulers relinquish the neo-colonialism traditions and make ways for the new, educated and intelligent young generation to assume leadership role and be able to challenge the prevalent insanity in global affairs. America and Isreal will be open to listening and understanding for a peaceful co-existence if the Arab leaders could pose an intellectual and moral-political challenge. There is none on the horizon as ignorant and egomaniac rulers are caught in a battle for their own survival. They operate form a position of extreme weakness, not of strength to come up with any challenge except being subservient to the Master. The Arab leaders do not have the political and strategic capacity to challenge Israel and its occupation of Palestine, whereas, Israel despite its military strength and institutionalized power, cannot claim to be at peace and durable in search of a peaceful con-existence. There are persistent engineered animosities, not rationally balanced perspectives for the peace talks to be meaningful for mutually favorable outcomes. Israelis and Palestinians desperately NEED change but change will come only if they want to change their pre-conceived notions and perception of fixed political stance, superiority and domination. MJ Rosenberg clarifies the point:
“The worst part is that nearly all of Israel's problems with its neighbors could be resolved by ending the occupation. Even the economy would benefit if the Israeli government was not wasting so much money on the settlers and their exorbitant demands.”
No one people or nation can occupy another nation and claim to be at peace, secure and having friendly relationships. Time and history in the making offers a unique opportunity to Israel to end the occupation and let the people be free and to the Palestinians, to be open to rational thinking and sacrifices for better and sustainable future in co-existence. History shall judge the people and nations by their actions, not by their claims. Recently, an Unknown Author offered this poem “Your Dimension of Greatness” (Free Thought Manifesto 10/01/2011) striving to be optimistic for problem solving amongst warring people.
No one can know the potential,
Of a life that is committed to win;
With courage – the challenge it faces,
To achieve great success in the end!
So, explore the Dimension of Greatness,
And believe that the world CAN be won;
By a mind that is fully committed,
KNOWING the task can be done!
Your world has no place for the skeptic,
No room for the DOUBTER to stand;
To weaken your firm resolution
That you CAN EXCEL in this land!
We must have VISION TO SEE our potential,
And FAITH TO BELIEVE that we can;
Then COURAGE TO ACT with conviction,
To become what GOD MEANT us to be!
So, possess the strength and the courage.