Worldfocus interview with Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force for Palestine, a non-profit dedicated to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Originally from Beirut, Ibish is the former Washington D.C. correspondent for Lebanon’s Daily Star and current author of IbishBlog.
Hussein Ibish: "The cultural, religious and political importance of the holy places means that Jerusalem is central to both populations. Both sides are becoming increasingly influenced by right-wing religious rhetoric. The conflict is transforming from an ethnic struggle over land and power in a small area — into a religious struggle between bearded fanatics on both sides about the will of God and holy places.
The Old City of Jerusalem requires a creative solution and the unique formula like the Vatican City. It can’t be the exclusive preserve of any of the religious or ethnic groups. A unique formula has to be found. But it’s not beyond the wit of man to come up with a solution for this, because the national interests of all parties require it."
We do indeed need creative solutions- and kind solutions ASAP to help stop conflict and the destruction of Palestine.
Oil painting, 1999, 165X200 cm.
"In Gaza, the blockade remains firmly in place, with all its adverse consequences for humanitarian access, for normal life and for the recovery and reconstruction effort. As always in these situations, civilians with no affiliation to armed groups or political parties, bear the brunt. The number of ‘abject poor’ among refugees has tripled in the last year to 300,000. Stunted growth among children, a consequence of chronic malnutrition, is making an appearance. The psychological damage to both adults and children is immeasurable, and it is apparent that the indiscriminate effects of the blockade serve only to swell the ranks of militants and the radicalized.
Conditions in the West Bank are similarly dire. The web of physical obstacles - some 592 currently - restricts Palestinian social interaction and denies access to economic opportunities and to resources such as land and water. Settlement construction and settler violence, land confiscation, house demolitions and evictions (including in East Jerusalem) and other violations of human rights are rife.
The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory constrain UNRWA’s protection, humanitarian and human development activities and make our operations more expensive at a time when our resources are severely limited." UNWRA's Commissioner-General
This dire situation is bound to go from bad to worse.
There is however hope that a just and lasting peace can be built by all the many people who understand the crucial importance of ending the Israel/Palestine conflict.
The Arab Peace Initiative clearly outlines what needs to be done:
Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
Is Palestine Worth Fighting For
As in the inner jihad-
the struggle to see
and think clearly
to speak honestly
To know horror- and betrayal
but to speak of hope
To shape revenge
into living well
to all you encounter
To find borders
for words and ideas
so that our quest for decency
dignity, and peace
might be known
In trying to help Palestine I think the Golden Rule and compassion for all involved is crucial... as is full respect for basic human rights including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees inalienable, legal, moral and natural right to return to original homes and lands.
Not all Palestinian refugees will want to be Israeli, and the Palestinian refugees really should not be pawns for political or religious war. These are people, human beings- men, women and children who need freedom & justice- and that includes the freedom to leave to find greener pastures... and good jobs.
When return becomes a reality many, perhaps even most, will want citizenship in a place called Palestine, with the freedom to go visit family and friends where ever they might be.
Some Palestinians will want to relocate far away from the scene of so much misery and suffering. I very much hope that America welcomes in as many Palestinian refugees as possible.
"The Golden Rule requires that we use empathy -- moral imagination -- to put ourselves in others' shoes. We should act toward them as we would want them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause them harm." The Charter for Compassion
Here in America, with our Constitution and Bill of Rights ensuring that we really do become a more real democracy, it is VERY easy to be convinced that a feel good one state "solution" to the Israel/Palestine conflict will stop the conflict.
REALITY CHECK: Wishful thinking will not create peace, nor will wishful thinking free Palestine.
We need to be noticing that if a viable and sovereign two-state reality is not reached that is the end of a place called Palestine.
A secular two state solution is the only solution for every one's sake, and negotiations on how best to respect and implement all the many international laws and resolutions already in place need all our support....
Calm and compassionate voices need our support. Moderates need our support. The idea of fair and just laws needs our support- civilization itself needs all our best efforts to help free Palestine from the many hate mongers, extremists, radicals, cynics and idiots who thrive on the continuation of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Wood to wood
old meets new
grains and stains
to me- and to me alone
What is Palestine now ?
Is it this delicate souvenir
like a feathered pen in my hand
this gift from the heart
with a compelling heritage...
Is it the gentle thought
the pleasant memory
the home cooked meal
loyalty and love- and logic - human dignity
with we the people working together
shaping hope for better days
Or is it the guns and the hate-
the cold cruelty and divisiveness
the rudeness and cynicism- the bigotry
the angry posters... the burning flags.
Who will rule the symbols
defining the borders
and the point of purpose
Who will find inspiration in our words- and efforts
... who will come to care about Palestine
In growing gardens for Palestine rather than rage for Israel, I think Palestine needs all our best efforts and creativity to help empower positive efforts and discussions that reach into the mainstream in order to convince everyone worldwide that Palestine really is in the best interest of all.
Letter I recently sent to President Obama
SUBJECT: Please do not give up on Palestine
Dear President Obama,
Please do not give up on Palestine.
These are indeed very troubling times, very discouraging and difficult... but please help keep hope alive that a just and lasting peace is more than possible- it is an absolute necessity for every one's sake.
"Extremists on both sides feeding each other’s appetite for destruction. That’s the menacing miscalculation from which my region is reeling: the belief that violence is the answer. The only answer is non-violence. That’s the seismic shift we need. Because the major threat to our world is neither nuclear weapons nor environmental disaster; it’s a population without hope. We have one on our doorstep. " Tactical Blinders http://2010.newsweek.com/top-10/tactical-blunders/israel-2006-war-in-lebanon.html
In seeing a new "Charter for Compassion" arise today- and in exploring "The American Task Force for Palestine" and all the ATFP's hard work to convince America to understand and care about Palestine, I believe that we need a Golden Rule Peace for Israel and Palestine, a Golden Rule Peace firmly grounded in full respect for international law and basic human rights- and in veering away from violence a golden rule guide to calming down the conversation rather than inflaming bigotry, extremism and despair.
The Arab Peace Initiative is reasonable and right: We do not have to demonize or destroy Israel in order to help free the besieged and displaced people of historic Palestine- but we do have to firmly and clearly demand that Israel fully respects and honors a two state solution, an end to its illegal occupation as well as an end to its public and private institutionalized bigotry towards the native-non-Jewish population of the the Holy Land: A Golden Rule Peace has to be on both sides of every and any border.... and in every home and neighborhood.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights wisely reminds us "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Please do not give up on Palestine.
Anne Selden Annab