Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jerusalem Post: Middle East Drama starring Israel's Danny Ayalon

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Middle East Drama starring Israel's Danny Ayalon
By Ray Hanania
(Published in the Jerusalem Post Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010)

When Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon intentionally disrespected Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol last month in the "sofa affair," many believed he was just an immature politician.

In reality, though, Ayalon's snub of the ambassador represents more than just one man's failings. His actions symbolize the fundamental shortcomings common to rejectionists and shared by the Arabs, too.

Ayalon didn't accidentally disrespect the Turkish ambassador. He did it with flair and intended mischief. Ayalon had Celikkol sit on a couch in his office that was "lower" than his own chair. Not that anyone would care except that Ayalon intentionally pointed out the slight to the Israeli media to drive home the embarrassment.

Celikkol was "summoned" to Ayalon's office to be "reprimanded" because Turkish state TV was airing a program that made the IDF look bad. Well, if they were mad about that, you can imagine why they were enraged with the war crimes allegations against the IDF in the UN's Goldstone Report.

And in an apparent response to the Ayalon "slight" of Celikkol, a billboard went up near Istanbul on Sunday depicting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan standing upright before Israeli President Shimon Peres, an advocate of peace, who was portrayed "bowing" to the Turks. Is that the best the Turks can come up with?

THE CONTROVERSY hadn't even cooled when Ayalon did it again last week. This time, Ayalon reportedly refused to meet with an influential delegation visiting Israel organized by J Street and refused to let them meet with senior Israeli officials, a charge the Foreign Ministry denied earlier this week. J Street is the celebrity Jewish American lobbying group that seeks to replace the rigidly right-wing policies of AIPAC with more moderate views to convince American Jews to support peace based on two states. The delegation included five members of the US Congress, normally a place where childish behavior is rewarded.

But for Ayalon, it wasn't enough to not shake their hands or make them sit on a "time-out couch." According to J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami, Ayalon ordered a "boycott" of the delegation.

When the congressional delegation protested in anger, Ayalon reportedly apologized (although this was also denied by the Foreign Ministry) - through a surrogate - to them too.

AYALON'S CONDUCT is not peculiar to Israelis, though. There is more than enough childish behavior among the Arab and Palestinian rejectionists. Arabs don't need a TV show to set them off. There are more "serious" things like when an Arab journalist tried to interview an Israeli official and was reprimanded by the Arab Journalists Syndicate, which acts more like a mafia than a professional fraternity of the Fourth Estate.

But the worst offense for the rejectionists is to embrace the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

Arab rejectionists insist that the solution is a failure. Their answer: one state, a goal they share with Ayalon whose right-wing party endorses one state but without Palestine, while the Arab rejectionists endorse the same without Israel.

So why not have a debate about it? Because that is normalization, too. Haram[forbidden] of the highest fatwa order.

This attitude to "normalization" (contact with the enemy) and "public debates" isn't just a problem with Arabs in the Middle East. It is a bigger problem with the Arabs who live in the West and in the US.

Recently, a group sought to bring together two Palestinians to debate the issue of "One State or Two?" at the University of Chicago.

The proponent of the two-state solution is Hussein Ibish, a fellow at the moderate American Task Force on Palestine in Washington as well as one of the most articulate English language spokespeople for Palestinian rights.

The sponsoring organization at the university reached out to nearly every leading Palestinian activist to present the case for "one state," and all refused, including, according to Ibish and event sponsors, the canonized saint of the "one state" plan, author Ali Abunimah.

Based at the University of Chicago, Abunimah is one of four founders of the online "Electronic Intifada," where Palestinian moderation is regularly browbeaten and defamed. Abunimah is also the author of the convoluted manifesto and the rejectionist's bible titled One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Basically, the "one-state" theory goes like this: If Palestinians will just refuse to compromise and to create two states, Israelis and Jews will simply give up so Palestinians can replace the Jewish homeland with an Islamic homeland.

Just like that.

Wow. If we only knew that, how many suicide bombers could we have spared in the past? A stupid notion, it has gained huge support among Arabs, maybe because it is just that, a stupid notion.

But "one state" advocates have an ulterior agenda. They know their idea is impossible to achieve and it allows them to exploit Palestinian anger and frustration, turning suffering into hatred and hatred into violence.

Rejectionists have no desire to compromise. They want to keep the conflict going until they can win, they think.

In the end, although Israeli rejectionists are similar to Palestinian rejectionists, there is one glaring difference. Palestinians never apologize for anything or admit they are wrong.

Apologizing means compromise. Apologizing recognizes a mistake. Palestinian rejectionists live in a pretend world where their mistakes don't exist and their failures are not debatable. War crimes committed on their behalf are never addressed, only the war crimes of others.

Danny Ayalon may be a poor diplomat but at least he knows when to apologize and recognize when he is wrong.

When Israelis and Arabs can apologize and recognize when they are wrong together, and stop denying everything as they often do, maybe, just maybe, we might see the day when genuine peace is achieved.

That's something I would bow to myself.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Abbas should call Israel's bluff and push for peace talks, Jerusalem Post column

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Abbas should call Israel's bluff and push for peace talks
By Ray Hanania

It’s too easy for members of Israel’s government to call for peace talks to resume. From one side of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s mouth, he says he wants peace. From the other, he says he won’t freeze settlements.

They are not compatible statements, but Netanyahu knows that each message has a
different intended audience. Not freezing settlements is intended to provoke Palestinians into their typical rejectionism. The Palestinians have a button that Israelis can easily push to get the reaction they want, the same reaction every time.

Netanyahu also knows that constantly calling for peace is exactly what American leaders want to hear, easing the pressure off President Barack Obama. The US, which has a multibillion-dollar annual investment in Israel and politicians who pander to pro-Israel votes during biannual elections, doesn’t really care about the problems of the Middle East conflict, so freezing or not freezing settlements is a non-issue to most Americans.

Do Netanyahu and most Israelis want peace? The only way to find out is to push them into a corner from which they can’t escape. But you can’t do that when you are in your own corner, drawing lines around yourself and babbling meaningless rhetoric as the world continues to collapse around you.

Instead of issuing unenforceable preconditions on Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should go to the peace table and play the cards he has. Talk. But this time, do what his predecessor the late president Yasser Arafat failed to do. Partner peace talks with public relations. When they collapse, as they might, make sure you get your story out first before Israel, not three years later as Arafat did in futility during the siege of the Mukata and the confrontation years with Netanyahu’s party predecessor Ariel Sharon.

WHAT’S THE worst that can happen? Peace talks collapse and the region nose-dives into militant-driven violence, terrorism and excessive, heavy-handed military responses from the IDF. Or, just maybe, peace talks progress and Netanyahu, given something to take back to Israel’s increasingly intransigent population, shows them peace might work and restoring hope.

Peace is the only answer that can move Israelis and Palestinians away from the precipice where they have debka’d during the past 62 years. Not only are Israelis and Palestinians bad dancers, they are terrible at reading road maps. But only Israel has the clout.

Israelis will not willingly budge from their rejection of compromise with the Palestinians. It’s been too easy for them over the years. The Palestinians demand “all or nothing” and constantly end up with nothing, while the Israelis take whatever they can get.

A peace agreement is the only way to freeze Israel’s settlement expansions around Jerusalem.

The Israeli settlements didn’t just appear because some ingenuous Israeli developed a bullet-proof strategy to build them, but because Palestinians always said “no,” demanding everything and always ending up with nothing. Israel had carte blanche to take what it wanted. And it did. Who wouldn’t?

IN RETURNING to the peace table despite Israel’s hard-line stance, Abbas can also give some strength back to the weakened President Obama, whose powerful shouts of peace sound more like distant whispers these days. If Obama can show some progress in the Middle East, he just might be able to leverage that to pressure Israel’s government to do more, which it should, and add tenor to his declarations.

But with Abbas saying “no,” and with Netanyahu’s clever double-talk to preserve his right-wing coalition, Obama can’t do much except tell Americans he will focus his attention elsewhere.

The Palestinians will never have a stronger American ally than Obama. Every other Democratic alternative, including Hillary Clinton, would move the table back into Israel’s corner. Politically, there is no advantage to confronting Israel in the United States.

Every Republican challenger, like Mike Huckabee, will be fawning all over Israel during repeated visits, telling the Israelis everything they want to hear, from bashing the Goldstone Report as the bible of anti-Semitism to promising that America will always stand by Israel’s side – well, as long as there are Jews in America who can vote. There is neither virginity in American politics nor innocence.

My guess is Abbas will make the wrong choice, again, and waste his time trying to smooth things over with the uncompromising Hamas, presumably to strengthen his own weak government. Only Hamas can play the game of double-talk better than Netanyahu. And there is nothing anyone could do to change Hamas, which is uncompromising by faith.

The only Palestinian leader giving Abbas good advice is his prime minister, Salam Fayyad. But Fayyad’s role has been relegated to that of an entertainer as he travels the country and the world telling audiences what they need to hear while failing with his own people.

The truth is Israel holds all the cards. If Israel wanted to end the conflict it could. But with Israelis becoming increasingly satisfied with the status quo – controlling everything with only “minor” losses of life – there is little incentive to push them to do the right thing.

If Abbas could stop being predictable and surprise Israelis and the US, maybe he could regain the momentum and reignite a peace process that Israel cannot reject.

What do Abbas and the Palestinians have left to lose that they haven’t already lost?

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at

Sunday, February 14, 2010

When journalists routinely brush off criticism of popular governments

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When journalists routinely brush off criticism of popular governments …

Last summer, New York Times Columnist Stephen J. Dubner wrote a column in which he trashed claims that the Israeli military was harvesting organs from palestinians without the permission of their relatives.
Dubner, with no facts but probably an instant bias against all claims critical of Israel or, more likely, that drive sympathy for the oppressed Palestinians, write that the claim was “probably false.”
Wow. A whole column on why something so significant would be false. you wouldn’t expect the New York Times or its flashy columnist, Thomas Friedman to explore the veracity of such an outrageous claim against Israel, athough Dubner made sure to include the knee-jerk response that Israel always makes when it is criticized, quoting:
“The Israeli government has struck back, claiming that Boström’s article is false, outrageous, and, in the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, a “blood libel,” the sort of malicious rumor that has led to the persecution of Jews for centuries.”
Then, Dubner went on to explain why harvesting human organs would be unlikely. It requires so much technical know-how.
That was in August 2009. A few weeks back, Jan. 19, 2010, Dubner offered a mild correction in typical pro-Israel bias seen often at the New York Times and in larger mainstream news media that just don’t want to be bothered by the facts when defending Israel or bashing Arabs. Dubner wrote:
“And in a more distant post, I discussed why an accusal of “the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers” was “probably false.” In a separate but related story, it has since been reported that “Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.” ”
Tragically, this kind of shoot-from-the-hip defense of a foreign government is not unusual. Had this story involved any other nation, it would have dominated the news headlines for weeks. It is scandalous.
The response of the Israeli  government — and I want to stress here that this is NOT about criticizing Israel or Israelis, but criticizing a government — is outrageous. They finally admit a decade later that they did indeed harvest organs from Palestinians. They lied about it when it happened, denied it and, as you read, slandered those who made the claims.
What does that say about today? That because the mainstream news media does not do its job, we must wait 10 more years to discover the truth?
What about the accusations in the report by renown war crimes Jurist Richard Goldstone, a report that detailed numerous atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers, including in one case rounding up civilians in a school building and then shooting them dead.
Read the Goldstone Report, if you have any foundation of professional journalism. The facts are outrageous and offensive. Those who are using the Goldstone Report to slander Israel and Israelis are clearly overstepping their bounds. But the news media refusal to hold the Israeli government accountable amounts to a violation of their professional responsibilities. Allowing people like lawyer Alan Dershowitz slander those calling for an investigation by publishing his columns in their newspapers is a violation of professional journalism, a violation especially when his accusations are published without adequate defense of the Goldstone Report.
The Goldstone Report reminds me of the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam by Lt. William Calley. Then, the news media held the US Military and the government accountable. yes, it was an outrage. But by airing the crimes and demanding justice, journalists reflected the highest levels of ethics and morality.
Today, that moral high ground is AWOL in mainstream American journalism.
I would like to see it return not just for the of the victims but for the sake of Israel. By investigating and prosecuting the crimes, the United States did this country a great service strengthening our Democratic principles by investigating and standing up for justice. Israel can and should do the same thing.
– Ray Hanania
(Ray Hanania is a  columnist for Israel’s  Jerusalem Post Newspaper, writing every Wednesday, and also a columnist for, the leading news and opinion site for Palestinians.)

Columnists: We come and we go (Jerusalem Post)

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Columnists, we come and we go
By Ray Hanania
(Originally published in the Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2010)

Years ago I was a lead writer for a flashy column in Chicago’s daily newspaper The Sun Times. Called Page Ten, it showcased an assortment of news tidbits – some called gossip, others called insider tips – and my beat was politics, mainly Chicago’s City Hall.

After two years, the editor called me one day and said the column run was over. All the celebrity recognition I received from the column quickly ended and the column was replaced with someone else’s. They moved me back to my regular beat covering Chicago’s City Hall, which is where I wanted to be from the beginning.

In journalism, this happens all the time. Sometimes the move is a shift. Other times it involves scandal. Sometimes, it even involves a newspaper reacting to public outcry.

In Israel, this week, The Jerusalem Post decided to drop the regular column ‘Critical Currents’ by Naomi Chazan, the head of the New Israel Fund. The change came in the middle of a storm of controversy in which Chazan and the NIF were being attacked by a right-wing Israeli organization which was angry because, it asserted, the NIF had made it possible for the United Nations to produce “The Goldstone Report.”

The Goldstone Report, as you have read, is the report completed by a fact-finding mission led by renowned international jurist and civil rights lawyer Richard Goldstone. The report concluded that Israel and Hamas both committed war crimes.

But in demonizing NIF and Chazan, the critics complained not that the report was inaccurate, but that some of the facts obtained by the report came from organizations that received funds from NIF. It is a typical lynch mob mentality. Demagoguery at its worst.

NEVERTHELESS, CHAZAN’S column was dropped. It should also be noted that Chazan was also writing for Yedioth Aharonot and Maariv and online web sites and some of her columns were dropped there, too.

I know the NIF very well. It has, in the past, supported the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour. I have attended many of the events it has organized in Chicago and in Jerusalem. It is progressive and it supports peace based on justice. It backs the two-state solution and its programs often involve frank discussions and analysis that not only challenge the extremism in the Palestinian community but the growing extremism in Israel, too.

I worked for Yedioth Aharonot’s online web page,, also. And I have been writing irregularly for The Jerusalem Post since leaving YnetNews about two years ago. (I won a Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Award for my columns at and I enjoyed the freedom they gave me.)  

But is an online news site. And being the old-fashioned journalist that I am, I still prefer the print newspaper. I like to see my columns in print, not just online.

Recently, The Jerusalem Post offered to give me a regular column. The column will run every Wednesday, except for this week. The column will reflect my fiercely moderate views and unashamedly anti-extremist views. I passionately dislike extremists – a political lifestyle I define for someone who rejects compromise and enables violence through selective silence; someone who denounces others for violence but is silent when their side engages in the same violence.

A moderate is everything an extremist is not. And, I will go further to say that the new Middle East is not a conflict between Israeli and Palestinians, but rather between extremists and moderates. I am proud to help lead that fight.

The fact that I am Palestinian does not make me feel uncomfortable writing for The Jerusalem Post, which is usually right of center (although it does carry left-wing columnists and op-eds) and all the way to the limits of the right. I don’t mind. To me, journalism is about divergent views.

In fact, to the contrary, I feel at home writing for the newspaper. I believe in the secular future of Palestine and Israel. I also recognize and respect the heritage of my family which has had roots in Jerusalem for a millennium and probably even more. Jerusalem is my home whether it is controlled by the Ottomans, the British or Israel.

Many Palestinians are angry with me for writing for The Jerusalem Post, but I don’t care. There are even more Israelis angered by my columns who sometimes are more articulate in expressing their hate.

But there are far more Palestinians and Israelis who support my views and who reject the extremists who try to control through censorship, intolerance and bullying.

I support the NIF. And I am proud to also write for The Jerusalem Post. I am sure Chazan will do well and find a new forum for her views, views that are badly needed.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and define “the moderate Arab voice” speaking to an audience or primarily Jews and Israelis who I believe need to better understand what has otherwise been a poorly articulated Palestinian narrative and viewpoint.

Named Best Ethnic Columnist in America by New America Media, the writer is a Palestinian-American columnist and peace activist. He can be reached at This column originally appeared at the news blog.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Criticize, yes; Demonize, no

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Criticize, yes. Demonize, no
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post Newspaper
03/02/2010 21:07

It wasn’t that the NIF criticized its government for moral lapses that angers its critics. That it criticized Israel at all provoked the venom.

I always thought it was the Arabs who had the most extremist fanatics screaming at everyone in my community who dared utter something “moderate” or “middle of the road.” In recent months, though, it seems that Arabs and Jews really have more in common than we think.

The Goldstone Report on the Gaza Strip has been a lightning rod for propaganda and hypocrisy on both sides. Authored by a Jewish jurist of the highest caliber, the report details the excesses that some – I repeat some – in Israel’s military engaged in last year against Hamas. It also details war crimes by Hamas against Israel.

If we could ever strip away the political layers of this issue and tune out those who scream that Israel is a “Nazi state” or those who call Israel’s critics anti-Semitic, we might get to a truth that is good for everyone.

Innocent people died in the conflict. The response from Israel was excessive and did not always show concern for the well-being of civilians. Of course, Hamas rockets fired wildly across the border did no better in caring for civilians’ well-being.

Some 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died. Maybe had the number of deaths been more equal, both Palestinians and Israelis might have taken pause to see this conflict not for the political points that could be scored, but rather for the humanitarian toll it involved. Maybe the debate would not have provoked such tragic hyperbole from both sides.

ON THE Arab side, I can say much of the debate is not about the war crimes or provocations of Hamas, but rather about blaming Israel. I happen to believe Israel’s government made a conscientious choice to attack Hamas even though the data compiled by reputable Israeli institutions showed that for the most part, Hamas was abiding by the summer “lull” agreement of 2008. I think some Israeli generals and government officials were playing politics, and the attack against Hamas had another purpose besides disabling its rocket-firing capabilities. But to the extremist Arabs, the Goldstone Report is a gold mine of hatred.

Tortured images of children mangled by bombs and fire are casually distributed on the Internet, not with condolences to the relativesbut with fiery words of hatred toward all Israelis.

Not saddened by the deaths, the Arab activists are moved to near glee to have finally caught Israel in a mistake, even though mistakes have been made consistently by all sides. The dominant Israeli response has been the same, but focused more on rejecting the criticism. How could a Jewish state founded in the wake of the Holocaust engage in such brutal behavior? It’s a dilemma few Israelis want to address. Nor will they admit to a weakening of Israel’s morality in its assault on Gaza.

But there are a few who recognize that addressing faults is what makes a people strong. In other words, recognizing the excesses of the Israeli military, despite all the arguments of Hamas provocation, strengthen rather than weaken Israel.

Strong leaders are not those who outgun critics in rhetorical skills or PR spin. A leader who recognizes his own faults and seeks to correct them is strong and courageous. It is the correction of a failure, not the denial of that failure, that is the substance of great nations.

RECENTLY, ONE courageous group in Israel, the New Israel Fund, stood up and questioned the IDF’s conduct during the Gaza war. By Arab standards, the NIF critique hardly satisfied the “Down with Israel!” protests that characterize most Arab responses. But the criticism stings nevertheless.

It wasn’t that the NIF criticized its government for moral lapses that angers its critics. That NIF criticized Israel at all is what has provoked the venom.

Calling Goldstone “anti-Semitic” does not seem to bother right-wing fanatics who defend Israel by demonizing the NIF leadership with Nazi-like caricatures.

NIF calls the attacks despicable, as they are. One such assault screams loudly: “Without the New Israel Fund, there would be no Goldstone Report, and Israel would not be facing international accusations of war crimes.” Really? Without the NIF, the Goldstone Report would not have come about?

The criticism is ridiculous, of course. War crimes are not based on accusations but on facts. Ugly facts. Distasteful facts. Unwanted facts. But facts nonetheless. Facts mitigated by context and circumstance perhaps, but facts that must be unbearable to those who have embraced Israel’s dreams through blindness rather than principle.

The accusation, repeated by other hard-line groups, is the equivalent of a police officer who sees a fellow officer commit a crime and turns that colleague in. It’s not easy and in many countries, including Arab nations, it is taboo.

I know Israelis have a tough time acknowledging ugly truths. Arabs have a tough time, too.

I hope to one day experience this simple dream where Israelis and Palestinians, instead of pointing fingers at each other, look first within to acknowledge and correct their own misguided actions.

When a Palestinian can denounce the Palestinian murder of an Israeli, and when an Israeli can denounce the Israeli murder of a Palestinian, then we might have begun to restore the moral compass we need to lead us all to peace.

Yes, it’s just a dream, but I can be criticized for that.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A dark lining in every silver cloud, Ray Hanania, Jerusalem Post

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A dark lining in every silver cloud
By Ray Hanania
Published in the Jerusalem Post Jan. 30, 2010
Why can’t we say that the recent reports of a reduction in violence is a result of improved relations? That maybe we are starting to hate each other less?

There were no suicide bombings in Israel in 2009. That doesn’t mean no one was killed. Media reports, including in The Jerusalem Post, note that five Israelis were killed in Israel and the West Bank last year. About 49 Israelis were wounded in attacks, not including those injured during Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of last year.

I am surprised, though, that Israelis didn’t give all the credit to the wall, which they call a fence, even though in reality it is a “wall” where it is around people and a “fence” where it is around farmland and open space.

Instead, some give credit for the lower casualties and deaths to war in the Gaza Strip. Others say it’s because of better security and the ability to prevent Palestinians from arming themselves. The focus is on the perpetrators, not those engaged in peace.

How about giving some credit to the majority of Palestinians who didn’t engage in violence, who didn’t engage in protests and who watch Israel’s government continue its policies of expanding the settlements in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, including on my land just north of Gilo?

During the same period, there were many Israeli assaults, mostly by the military and some by the settlers, against Palestinians. According to The Washington Post, 27 Palestinians were killed in “conflict related violence,” down by half from 2008. That doesn’t include the more than 1,000 killed during the war in Gaza.

It has become kind of an industry in Israel and Palestine. I mean, of course, not the killings, but tabulating death tolls from violence. It says something that it is easier to find out how many Israelis and Palestinians were killed by each other than in car accidents or suicide.

It’s almost like dying from natural causes or accidents doesn’t matter as much.

THE GAZA Strip isn’t occupied by Israel any more, although it is certainly controlled by Israel, with the help of Egypt – I’m not sure if that is better than it would be if it were reversed and the Egyptians controlled Gaza with Israel’s help.

But the West Bank and east Jerusalem are, and that’s where my focus is. Why can’t we say the reduction in violence is a result of improved relations? That we are starting to hate each other less?

Why isn’t that reduction in violence an impetus for both sides to ramp-up (an American corporate term that has nothing to do with building Israelis-only roads in the West Bank, by the way) peace talks?

Doesn’t anyone believe that if peace talks resume in earnest, there will be even fewer deaths? “Earnest” means Palestinians speak genuinely about peace and out loud against the violence, and Israelis stop advocating settlement expansion and start looking at shutting some down while easing restrictions.

Is it too much to believe that peace generates more peace? And that peace is the better “wall” or the better “fence,” depending on which side of the conflict you stand?

I own 33 dunams of land next to Gilo near the Muslim village of Sharafat, the “Tarud” land (one of my mother’s families from Bethlehem). The Israelis are planning to confiscate it and build new homes.

I won’t resort to violence, although I bet many others would if it was their land being taken. I will go to the courts and fight and demand that everyone who buys or takes a home there be sued. The court system is where much of this conflict should be taken, not to a violent battlefield.

But I understand that it’s easier to do things in the face of violence than it is in the face of peace. The unknown investors in Jerusalem who are licking their chops at profiting from my land want it this way. The violence allows them to continue to take and profit.

I know the extremists among the Palestinians also are licking their chops knowing that although they speak out against the land confiscations and settlement expansions, those actions give them perceived public approval to engage in more violence against Israel.

Imagine if the land confiscations ended, and the settlements were really frozen, that peace talks could blossom and even fewer people will die. Wouldn’t it be nice if next year, we read stories that reports no Israelis and no Palestinians were killed? Peace talks increased?

That’s the silver lining in the dark clouds above our lives today. We can have that, or we can continue to look for the usual dark linings in the rare silver clouds.

In the meantime, if you know of a good lawyer who doesn’t mind representing Palestinian rights in lands controlled by Israel, have them give me a call. I won’t engage in violence, encourage violence or enable violence to achieve my rights.

It’s something we all should try, don’t you think?