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|24 Kislev 5762 07:36Sunday December 9, 2001|
An appeal for intervention
(December 9) - This is an appeal for immediate international intervention to stop the Palestinian and Israeli bloodshed. Both Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, our so-called "leaders" (today they are leaders only in the sense that they lead us further into hell), are caught up in a game that they started in 1982 in Beirut and have not yet finished.
They show no responsibility whatsoever for the lives of their peoples. The leaders of the United States, at the same time, are right now stuck with their own concept that terror can be uprooted only by force, a concept that Sharon is trying to implement in our region.
This is a dangerous escalation, as we are not the US and Afghanistan, but two peoples deeply interwoven in a very narrow and painful piece of land. There is no way for us to drive out the Palestinian people, just as there is no way for them to drive us out. But our "leaders" still behave as if this is their preferred option and we are all suffering the consequences.
The present "cycle of violence" is an indication of the depth of the dream that one group can drive out the other through terror. I assume that within the two nations there are many more people who want a compromise that will enable them to live and not to die. These people do not want a "final solution," based on ideals that were perhaps relevant in the past. They want a compromise one can live with, in dignity and mutual respect.
As I understand it, such a compromise will mean a Palestinian state composed of the occupied territories and Israel as a state with a Jewish majority within the 1967 borders (which means that most of the Palestinian refugees will not be able to return to their original homes).
There are a few others who may want to die for their ideals based on hatred and total exclusion of the other. We, as people, must find a way to let the many talk and not the few. Perhaps international crisis intervention will enable the many to voice their wishes and needs.
I was on my way home from a seminar in Northern Ireland (called "Peace is Tough") when I heard about the casualties of the last two terrible suicide bombers in Jerusalem and Haifa. There, we heard stories of British and Northern Irish people, deeply traumatized by violence they have committed or that was inflicted upon them.
They could start to talk only now, after their cease-fire gained some momentum. For them the "Troubles" are not yet over, as they are still haunted by fear, pain, and distrust that will take a long time to get over. Their way to seek relief was to listen and become more sensitive to each other's pain and sorrow. I envied them the fact that they could talk about the violent events in the past tense. For us it is still a daily reality. Most of our people are still blocking their feelings of relating to the pain of the other. They are full of hatred and wish for revenge.
But terror cannot be uprooted by force alone. As its roots are many and deep, resting on layers of despair, poverty, lack of legitimacy, and an ideology of hatred, it may be slowly reduced only by a delicate combination of short-term use of legitimate power and long-term solutions of legitimacy, political and economic change, and education. Only a change that will provide hope for people who have been made destitute by the current state of affairs will slowly reduce the extent of terror, both in our region and also elsewhere.
Before I went to Northern Ireland I participated in an event called Kids-Guernica, in South Tyrol, Italy. Paintings the size of Picasso's original Guernica painted by kids from all over the world, were displayed at Kronplatz, a local ski-resort. Our children, the Israelis and the Palestinians, could not compose a painting at home because of the current situation, and were therefore invited to do it in a small village near Kronplatz. They sat for a few days and designed a painting made of three parts: Palestinian, Israeli, and a joint part in the middle.
The Palestinian children painted 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, who was killed in the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the Aksa intifada, while his father tried, unsuccessfully, to protect him from the crossfire. The Israeli children painted a girl sitting with bent head and clutched arms, full of fear, all alone with a huge red background. In the middle, they painted a kind of a flower with the words in Hebrew and Arabic - "hoping for peace." When journalists interviewed them about the meaning of their painting, two of the kids (an Israel and a Palestinian) explained that in the current situation the adults are not able to defend their children any more.
If we think of what has to change in the current situation in the Middle East, I would take this painting as a model: We want to return to a situation in which adults can defend their children. Right now we are in a violent situation in which some children seem to be wiser than their parents.
(The writer is a professor of behavioral sciences at Ben-Gurion
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