Israel: Your Last Chance Is Now

Israel has tried to remain quiet through the democratic revolutionary movements going on surrounding the country. Other than its normal rants more recently against Hamas, now an official part of the Palestinian government like it or not, Netanyahu’s government has been silent. Then came Nakba Day when the Palestinians remember the exodus of their people and the loss of a State due to the unilateral declaration of Israel. On that day, Israel found itself in the same position as Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi — firing at peaceful demonstrations and killing unarmed civilians.

These civilians were decedents of the Nakba, Palestinian refugees who have spent their lives in overcrowded refugee camps. They want to go home and they want their voices to be heard by Israel. So off they went on a march toward the Israeli border. Refugees from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon were on the move and Israeli’s soldiers punished them for it. Many were wounded and several lost their lives.

Despite the fact that these young men and women were slain before they even got close to the border, Israel was intent on making itself out to be the victim. It complained to the United Nations, an entity that it does not even respect that Lebanon and Syria should be held accountable for violating its sovereignty taking no responsibility for their own lethal actions.

The real strategy for Israel should have been to allow the protesters to reach the border, hold them there and protect their right for peaceful demonstrations. What was obvious though is that Israel is incapable of protecting peaceful protests; it has become much too comfortable instead with solely firing weapons.

Force was used to create the refugee situation and force continues to be the action of choice. Unfortunately for Israel it has done nothing but make the Palestinian people fight harder for their rights and self-determination. Israel must now face the truth. The 63-year experiment to displace a group of people in favor of a theocratic state just isn’t working.

Those who marched on Nakba Day, in the territories and out, are reflecting the greater regional discontent with government repression. In this case, Israel is not an exception. No state will remain viable while millions of people are dominated, marginalized or occupied. It is time for change and, more importantly in Israel’s case, peace.

As the dictators of the region tremble, two have come to Washington to try to convince the U.S., again, that they will pledge loyalty in lieu of democracy just to survive. His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are making that case for continued support. The difference now is that it is not in America’s interest to invest in either.

U.S. interests are only served if King Abdullah and the Gulf monarchies stop pandering to the extremist and chose democracy, opportunities and freedoms for the people. As for Israel, it is in America’s interest and theirs to do the same. Building a wall or murdering unarmed protester is not the answer. The world at large understands this as well.

It won’t be long before a group of countries join the Palestinians in their own unilateral declaration of a State. In fact, this is sure to take place in the United Nations in the next few months. Israel should join this movement and be the first to declare a Palestinian State and invest itself in the States success, not, as it has in the past, await disaster.

Israel is one of the top 50 most prosperous states. There is no reason why it can’t move forward and share its knowledge with the Palestinians helping to train those who govern, develop infrastructure and lay the foundation for a solid economy. It is not a competition for dominance nor is it zero-sum; it is a necessary camaraderie for mutual advantage and existence.

Further there is no reason to start dumping arms in Palestine. There are enough in the region already. In fact regional disarmament should be a priority. Why not use the plethora of Israeli arms to form a regional alliance for protection of peoples and resources to move toward abundance and wealth, which is much better than constantly vying for annihilation of the other.

The right of return must be addressed and reparations for confiscation of homes and land are essential. There are plenty of ways to tackle this. Work out a division plan to allow returnees to move into the settlements instead of destroying them, develop and implement economic and urban reconstruction plans so that Palestinians have a place to return to encouraging all to live and become members of their communities. If Jewish settlers choose to remain, they like their Palestinian counterparts in Israel will live under that States laws. And resource distribution is vital, Israel must recognize this especially since they own so little, but have the knowledge to disseminate it fairly.

Finally, each must have their own capitol city while Jerusalem becomes an international center for all people of all religions. A place to celebrate the steps toward inclusion and ultimately setting a precedent for no longer tolerating discrimination or unjust treatment, displacement or genocide against those who are not like you.

There is no denying that when individuals see positive change, their views of hopelessness change. When diplomacy and relationship building is implemented, resorting to war becomes an afterthought not a reflexive action. This is the only way.

Israel must take the initiative now. It is its last chance. If it does not it will be destined for one of two outcomes — a one-state solution (which would in the end benefit everyone the most) or no state. Because when people cannot move beyond fear and war they will inevitably and, more frighteningly, unconsciously fail to see that they have set themselves on a path to destruction.

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