Pro Israël and Pro Hessel

For those who may have followed the publication of Stephen Hessel’s pamphlet ‘Indignez-vous’ which calls in some ways for a mini-revolution against social injustices, some clarification may be necessary on the subject of Israeli politics.

Hessel opposes the occupation of Gaza on humanitarian grounds, the construction of the wall and the treatment of the Palestinian people. Do not confuse this with opposition to the existence of the state of Israel.

People may use the issue of Gaza and the publication of this widely-read pamphlet in support of Syria or Iran’s opposition to Israel. Indeed, whether you consider the State of Israel legitimate or not, many do and for a good reason, none the least the suffering of Jews during the war or the claims to the ancient holy land.

It is unfortunate that Israel has followed the political path of segregation and separation, too reminiscent of the very concentration camps from which the Jewish people fled. Relations with countries surrounding Israel have been far from peaceful and the peace process founders even today.

The Wall is symbolic of this, as was the Berlin Wall symbolic of the mistrust between East and West. At a time when Russia’s president is to visit Palestinian representatives in Gaza this week, what hopes are there for rekindling this peace process and for finding a solution for deep and lasting peace? The wall would be demolished as part of a peaceful solution even though two billion dollars has been spent on it.

Indeed one wonders even how it has been possible to build such a wall while at the same time negotiating for peace. The Arab-Israeli conflict goes back to 1967, the six-day war and 1948, the very creation of the state of Israel, but it is too easy to fall into this ‘traditional’ conflict pattern between two peoples. Peace is possible.

Harmony and ‘living together’ is possible. Not perhaps, while Israel maintains its current policies, but neither in a situation claiming the extinction of the Israeli nation. No-one has yet found the balance of peace. Israelis may feel that their land is under threat from claims to property by displaced Palestinians.

The solution lies in the balance between these two claims, but even the intervention of a multitude of presidents and nations since Jimmy Carter has not brought about a long-term solution. Why not? What is the fundamental blocking point that the world’s diplomats not been able to solve: the coexistence of two peoples.

Where is the model? What guidelines did the Israelis establish in the region based on mutual understanding and cooperation? What lessons can these peoples learn from the Irish Conflict?

The worst lesson possible is that terrorist conflict can last for over a generation, but the best is that by negotiation, exchange, talking, patience, perseverance and a fundamental desire, that peace can be found. Peace for the benefit of all: this is the hope for Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

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