Dear Jewish Sincere Friends of Peace: Have you Missed this little Detail ?

Poster of the (Israeli) Peace Now movement:
“Each flag needs a balcony”

Israeli public life has many very Sincere Friends of Peace. “Peace Now,” the Meretz Party, many members of Labor, the most influential Israeli newspaper (HaAretz), and many smaller groups, all compete with one another, year in year out, demanding that the Israeli government make more concessions to the Arabs so as to achieve peace. And as for Jews in the diaspora — the U.S., Britain, continental Europe — well, it seems that currently the loudest voices (though not necessarily the most numerous or the most thoughtful) chime in: peace now, make more concessions, abandon the settlers on the West Bank — peace now !

Even people like myself who are unaffiliated with such groups can rejoice in the colorful diversity that such organizations contribute to Israeli and Jewish society. Of course I do not rejoice in the ultras, those who work for the destruction of Israel, but, surely, those are a different kettle of fish altogether.

But to come back to the major “peace” groups. Anyone who has watched them for many decades, as I have, must have noticed a little detail that seems to have escaped them altogether. That detail consists of an absolute absence of any similar peace movement among the Arabs. Even allowing for the fact that there is very little of a functioning “civil society” in Arab societies that would allow for unofficial political movements, it is nevertheless true there is some variety among Arabs in their views concerning Israel. Insofar are we can judge from public opinion polls and expressions in Arab writings and speeches, this variety runs the gamut from the most extreme hostility (Hamas) to somewhat milder hostility.

But, whatever the details, the broad picture is evident. There is no “Peace Now” among Arabs. There is no “Arab Voice for Peace.” There are no “Arabs for a Just Peace.” There is no AStreet that would urge concessions to Israel. Nothing of the sort.

My dear Sincere Jewish Friends of Peace: can you detect a little problem here somewhere ?

5 thoughts on “Dear Jewish Sincere Friends of Peace: Have you Missed this little Detail ?”

  1. Dear Werner,
    Apparently, you haven’t been paying attention to developments. You’ve totally ignored the Saudi/Arab League peace initiative. And you’ve missed the fact that Abbas has renounced the second intifada and all violence as counterproductive and against the Palestinian national interest.

    You also haven’t noticed the burgeoning growth of a cooperative non-violent movement of Palestinians and Israelis to resist the path of the West Bank security barrier (the fact that it takes the property of several villages and divides farmers from their fields). The most famous and successful such instance (resulting in a favorable ruling by Israel’s supreme court) was at a village called Budrus, celebrated in a very fine documentary film with that name.

  2. Not at all, Werner. The Palestinian leaders of the Budrus non-violent movement made it very clear in the movie that they respect Israel’s need to secure itself against attack. They just don’t want the barrier impinging on their property. Moreover, they welcome the help of Israelis out of a mutual commitment to peace.

    It’s sad and telling to me, Werner, that you would view this act of solidarity by Israelis reaching out to Palestinians in distress as “anti-Israel” activity. Even the tough female IDF sergeant who confronted them speaks respectfully about the demonstrators. The movie also makes the point that this kind of non-violent activity is a departure for the Palestinians and that it is going on elsewhere in the West Bank as well.

  3. Mr. Selinger, I believe you’re missing one key fact about the Arab Peace Initiative; the lack of follow-up by its proponents. I may be mistaken, but the fact that it was presented as a complete ‘take it or leave it’, with no meeting, no discussion, ect ect puts a damper on possible excitement.

  4. The essential “concession” that the Arab world needs to make to Israel is to accept a two-state solution in which Israel remains secure with a Jewish majority. Since Palestinian negotiators have shown a willingness to settle most of their “refugee” population outside of Israel, to allow most West Bank settlements to remain within the context of a land swap, and to compromise on the control and sovereignty over parts of East Jerusalem, I would argue that they have made these necessary concessions.

  5. So what you are saying is that there is no need for a peace movement in the Arab world since the Arab elites are already committed to peace. That is a proposition that nobody will take seriously, especially not since about 2000.

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