Not in security, but peace

As long as we don’t want peace or to believe in it, no matter what we call it, we will live with occupation and war, and not for long.

By Merav Michaeli

 The “check it out” trend these days is: “Check it out, they’re not spacey leftists, but true-blue rightists who have a vision of one state for Jews and Palestinians.”

My heart is gladdened, really and truly, not sarcastically, when reading these words in the July 16 edition of Haaretz Magazine (“Endgame” ). “The harm we are inflicting on the Palestinian population has become far more mortal,” said MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud ). “It’s impossible to go on like this, with a situation in which my Palestinian neighbors have to cross three checkpoints to get from one village to another,” said Emily Amrousi, former spokeswoman for the Yesha Council of settlements. “The worst solution is apparently the right one: a binational state, full annexation, full citizenship,” said Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council. “If Zionism means saying: ‘As few Arabs as possible,’ I must say that I don’t accept that,” said former defense minister Moshe Arens. “Whenever I hear about a demographic threat, it comes first of all from a type of thinking that says Arabs are a threat. … I am appalled by this kind of talk,” said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ).

But at the same time, harassment of the Palestinians continues in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel. The Likud sponsored and voted for bills excluding Arabs from work, from Jewish communities and from their own families. A bill for a pledge of allegiance to the Jewish state was rejected at the last minute thanks to Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor; the Public Security Minister and Police Commissioner called for pardoning a policeman who shot an unarmed Arab burglar; the Yesha Council is revving up for the end of the settlement building freeze; the Knesset revoked the pension rights of former MK Azmi Bishara (who was never convicted ) and some of the rights of MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ), alongside a display of physical aggression against her.

Azmi Bishara

Former Israeli Arab MK Azmi Bishara

Photo by: Reuters

The seeming contradiction is resolved if you delve into the question of what kind of citizenship the people quoted above offer the Palestinians in the one state: “I want it to be clear that I do not recognize national rights of Palestinians in the Land of Israel. I recognize their human rights and their individual rights, and also their individual political rights – but between the sea and the Jordan there is room for one state, a Jewish state,” said Hotovely.

So in any case the Palestinians are inferior people, whose human rights do not include national self-determination, and anyway we decide what happens to them and for them.

Exactly like what we do in practice to the Palestinian Israelis. With them, as well, no one talks about peace. Closeness, understanding, cooperation – peace. No one on the right sees the Palestinians who are here and those who are there as equal to him or her, and none really trusts them. Even if one of his or her best friends is an Arab.

In that respect rightists are not really different than leftists. Even most of those who have been talking for a long time about two states are speaking about a political settlement, about separation, in the best case, an agreement (and Netanyahu’s revolutionary invention: occupation plus economic peace ). Just not about peace.

But that is the heart of the matter: peace. It can be in a format of neighboring states, or of two national federations under a state that is jointly run, or even in one multinational, multicultural, multi-religious state.

Every one of these solutions, though, depends on our desire to be on good terms with the Palestinians. Every one of these solutions can only happen if and when we see our neighbors as people, as equals, and we want to live in peace. Not in security, but in peace.

As long as we don’t want peace or to believe in it, no matter what we call it, we will live with occupation and war, and not for long.

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