WARNING : This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of other and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Presidential candidates pledge to the flag of Israel

URL - http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/presidential-candidates-pledge-to-flag.html

The Israelis must be laughing at these guys racing to prove who is loyal to Israel.  Jews need sincerity and not duplicity to feel secure. 

Cartoon Courtesy of Sherif Arafa

was another cartoon, where the candidates were in a competition,  "who licks the most" while Netanyahu was enjoying the service. 

A genuine security is like a child in mother’s lap; safe and free from fears. Israel needs security and Palestinians justice; one does not happen without the other. 

We the Americans,  and the Arabs have screwed up peace for them (both) by supporting one against the other, instead of getting them to sit down face to face and work it out. We give them funds and we have earned the right to ask Israel to be serious, and Arabs have the right to ask the Palestinians to be serious. 

Our aid should be dependent on peace they achieve. No fits and tantrum from Netanyahu should be acceptable to compromise long term security of Israel.  No progress no monies, period. We owe it to the people of Israel and Palestine and not their bad leaders. 

We need to be prepared to explain the short term rioting by the right wingers, who will jump all over, and the responsible parties need to get them involved and have them see the long term security for Israelis and justice for Palestinians, and not the short-term appeasements.
 We must protect Israel, our ally; however, if that protection is based on injustice to either Palestinians or the Israelis, our integrity becomes questionable,  and solutions would be unsustainable. We need to be above reproach and seek justice for one and all.  If we are a sincere ally, we need to be tough on our ally to put them on the path of security. The Palestinians will yield for peace if they see our sincerity.   

I am please to add a few pieces of conversation from the face book:

  • Najma M. Adam Salam Mike. Long time since I've commented on your blog, though I do keep up with your wonderful and necessary work. Agree with you on the above and love the cartoon. It may be a trivial detail, but I take issue with the sentence "We must protect Israel, our ally;...." WHY are we all socialized to think of Israel as our ally? WTH is Israel doing for us, really? If you get a chance to read or hear Mearsheimer and Walt's work on AIPAC and Israel, I'd highly recommend it. I'd like to advocate a just perspective -- that we protect both our allies, Israel and Palestine. And, I'd go one step further and say let's strive toward more allies internationally. This isolationist existence and sleeping with Israel while they continue instigating, murdering, and colonizing another nation and its people is what has partially led to extremists rising, IMHO. Long and short of this, Mike, is let's not say "our ally Israel" as if it is a fact. If you look at the billions of aid given to Israel (for?), it's much more accurate to say "Israel our burden".

    Mike Ghouse Dear Najma M. Adam, Salaam to you as well;

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, I deeply respect it. Indeed, I have kept up with the Israel-Palestine conflict fairly closely - both the people have been a victim of our (the world) bias.

    Indeed, ou
    r aid must be tied to progress in peace and justice, like you, I have shared that in the original note above. The ally comment is below.

    We did nothing till the tail end of the Holocaust, and that burns me, the scene where Jews (children, women, seniors) were pushed to the edge of pits and fired to death has been hard on me. The looks on their faces haunt me about the inhumanity in us (all of us) - where are you my friends? They silently endured the pain. In my college days, I helped a friend with answers in the exam and was caught and sat in the principal’s office… those friends did not even come by to see me. That betrayal is gnawing, I am sure all of us have been betrayed from time to time. When I see the helplessness of rape victims, when I hear a child being abused by his or her loved ones… it puts a pause in my life and I seek solutions.

    The Palestinians were thrown in to wretchedness for three generations, we (the world) kept blaming every one and but did nothing, and that burns me. They don’t have a home land in their own land, they don’t have a passport, they don’t have an identify, how humiliating that must be! Of course there are a lot more tragedies out there, but you get attached with some and they become a part of you without dimuniting the other tragedies.

    Israel is our ally, when the Arabs were out to annihilate them in 1967 (it’s a war thing and every damned warring nation is guilty of that including us). Israel needed us, and we did the right thing in supporting them, and that bondage has grown over the years. If you recall the Presidents before that did not support Israel. But our allyship does not mean that we should be unjust to the Palestinians, absolutely not. I am in the front supporting the rights of the Palestinians and Jews.

    I have been not kind to Netanyahu. Netanyahu is not Israel, he is an opportunist politician, he is not for Jews or Israel, and he is for himself like Madoff. But we cannot shirk our responsibility to Israel and Palestinians because of Netanyahu or Abu Mashaal.

    I have always stood up for the people who are wronged. I have been chewed out by a few right winger Jews for standing up with Palestinians on the Gaza massacre, held prayers… and have been chewed out by right winger Muslims for commemorating Holocaust every year. Right wingers do not represent humanity, they are for themselves and we don’t have to mirror them. It is about humanity and not politics. I feel the pain for both people and if we fail to feel that, something about humanity is missing in us.
    Mike Ghouse Carol Duff, it has happened after the war as well. I felt the same pain when the Rohingis were returned back to ocean by Bangladesh, if they went back to their home Burma, they would have been slaughtered.. All people have suffered, we need to see them as fellow humans and feel their anguish and pain, that completes the humanness in us, makes us a better being.
Mike Ghouse is committed to cohesive societies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Comrades, Join the “Peer Progressive” Movement!

Thanks tot the Scientific American for giving a boost to the Israel Palestine confederation

Fed up with Obomney? Sick of both Democrats and Republicans? Do you see the parties’ similarities—their cowardly hawkishness and craven obeisance to deep-pocketed donors–as more significant than their differences? Looking for a fresh new approach to governance and social problem-solving? Then you might consider becoming a “peer progressive.”
Peer progressives believe that “peer netw
orks,” consisting of many people of roughly equal status freely swapping ideas and information, can accomplish things that top-down, centralized, hierarchical organizations can’t. Peer progressives “believe in social progress, and we believe the most powerful tool to advance the cause of progress is the peer network.”

That quote comes from the new book by science writer Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age (Riverhead Books), which I just reviewed for The Wall Street Journal. Future Perfect is a manifesto both for optimism—which has become my favorite ism—and for the peer progressive movement. Peer progressives resist left wing faith in Big Government and right wing faith in Big Business. They believe in the wisdom of crowds, especially crowds exchanging diverse viewpoints.

Johnson cites research suggesting that a large, diverse group often comes up with better solutions to problems than a smaller, homogeneous group with a higher average IQ, a phenomenon summarized as “diversity trumps ability.” Johnson elaborates: “When groups are exposed to a more diverse range of perspectives, when their values are forced to confront different viewpoints, they are more likely to approach the world in a more nuanced way, and avoid falling prey to crude extremism.”

Diversity, Johnson elaborates, “does not just expand the common ground of consensus. It also increases the larger group’s ability to solve problems.” Peer progressives favor diversity not just for traditional liberal reasons, to counter sexism, racism and other prejudices, but because “we are smarter as a society—more innovative and flexible in our thinking—when diverse perspectives collaborate.”

Peer networks predate the Internet; Johnson sees them at work in the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and other periods of extraordinary creativity. But the Internet and other digital technologies–which reduce the costs, time and effort of communication–have turned out to be astonishingly effective enablers of peer networks. Hence we get Internet-catalyzed marvels ranging from Wikipedia and Kick Starter to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements.

Johnson is especially hopeful that peer networks can revitalize—even revolutionize—politics. He suggests how peer networks might thwart attempts by the rich and powerful to hijack U.S. democracy. We might move closer to “direct democracy,” in which we vote for laws and policies rather than for politicians who are supposed to represent our interests but too often don’t.

Political peer networks are springing up all over the world. Take for example the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation, which calls for incorporating Israel and Palestine into a Swiss-style confederation. The Confederation plans to hold an online election in December to form a virtual parliament. Saleem Ali, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont, notes in National Geographic that the Confederation represents an attempt to “move beyond the stagnation of one-state/two-state fixes.”

The underlying principles of peer networks have been explored by other writers. Johnson’s evangelical anti-authoritarianism reminds me a bit of the journalist Kevin Kelly, whose 1994 book Out of Control insisted that because nature organizes itself without any centralized control, we should too. But whereas Kelly came off as a bit of a crank, Johnson has a knack for sounding reasonable.

Couple of caveats: One, Johnson neglects to address the potential of peer networks for solving two of our biggest problems: militarism and climate change. In my Wall Street Journal review, I urged Johnson and other peer progressives to start thinking of ways to tackle the problems of warfare and excessive fossil-fuel consumption.

Caveat two comes from my friend and colleague–my peer!–Andy Russell, a historian of technology at Stevens Institute of Technology. Andy objects to Johnson’s claim that the Internet is itself the product of a peer network. Johnson calls Arpanet, the Pentagon-funded network that gave rise to the Internet, a “radically decentralized system” and a “network of peers, not a hierarchy.”

Wrong, says Andy, who has done lots of research on the development of standards for the Internet. “The evidence is pretty clear that the Arpanet and Internet were designed and built through a hierarchical process,” Andy writes. “In fact its hierarchy (and well-heeled sponsor, the Department of Defense) was the single factor most responsible for the Internet’s success: it kept at bay the factions unleashed by democracy in international standards committees.”

Steven Johnson no doubt welcomes this sort of criticism. This is exactly how peer networks are supposed to work. Johnson presents his vision of the future, Andy and I respond with our quibbles, others respond to us, we bicker, resolve our differences, agree to disagree, reach compromises, come up with new ideas and march bravely toward a more prosperous, peaceful future.

Illustration credit: http://www.charteredbanker.com
About the Author: Every week, John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A former staff writer at Scientific American, he is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's Books, January 2012). Follow on Twitter  

URL http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2012/10/08/comrades-join-the-peer-progressive-movement/

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Israel’s National Security: Myths And Reality

 A serious heart to heart dialogue is warranted, all I see is myths manufactured on both sides. Real and genuine security comes when the people take time to know each other, then conflicts will fade and solutions will emerge. I continue to admire professor Ben-Meir's approach towards solutions.

Mike Ghouse
Israel Palestine Dialogue.com
Israel’s National Security: Myths And Reality
Professor Alon Ben-Meir
Oct 9, 2012

Israel’s national security has, and for good reason, continues to be of prime concerns not only to its citizens but to world Jewry and many of its friends and allies around the globe. Israel has every reason to be weary of its enemies, who have time and again demonstrated that they are not worthy of trust and remain committed to Israel’s destruction both in word and deeds. For this reason, many Israelis have become increasingly more pessimistic and skeptical about the prospect of peace and for that matter, its durability even when achieved. 

This argument, however cogent it may be, has lost much of its significance as time and circumstances have changed. To be sure, although Israel’s military power remains central to its national security, no territorial depth or continued military buildup provides Israel the ultimate security it needs. In the final analysis, Israel’s security rests on peace with the Arab states, and its formidable military prowess must now be used to secure that peace, however elusive it may seem.

There are those who suggest that Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank will make Israel vulnerable to rocket attacks from the mountains overlooking Israel's population and industrial centers in the coastal strip below, rendering the country indefensible. As one critic wrote citing an American military expert, "’modern weapon systems, most of them with components which require line-of-sight emplacement, if deployed in the [Judean and Samarian] mountains…’ [Israel’s] present width in the central sector of the country would be reduced from 40-55 miles to 9-16 miles… [which] would render the country indefensible.” To support this argument there are those who simply take at face value the statements made by right-wing Israeli officials who link territorial depth to national security without examining the real relevance between the two, especially in the context of the West Bank and the territorial depth involved.

Against the one “American military expert” there are hundreds of Israeli military experts who disagree with this argument. No one is suggesting that a peace agreement, in and of itself, provides Israel instant security. Indeed, any peace accord will have to be implemented in stages that would entail quid-pro-quo requiring both sides to fully adhere to all provisions of the agreement, especially on the matter of national security concerns to Israel. Thus, security measures will have to be in place including, for example, the stationing of an international peace force, led by the United States, stationed along the borders with Jordan replete with enforcement capabilities. More important, however, is Israel’s deterrence and its own military that has and can prevent any violation of an agreement with the Palestinians.

With today’s military technology and the proliferation of short and medium range rockets (ranging from three miles to three hundred) in the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah, “modern weapon systems,” regardless of where they are placed, can hit every population center in Israel. Therefore, whether the distance from the mountains of the West Bank is ‘40 to 55 miles or reduced to 9 to 16 miles’ will hardly make any difference. What will make, in the final analysis, a real difference are Israel’s retaliatory capabilities and the potential unacceptable damage that Israel can inflict that would persuade the enemy from provoking Israel.

Ask yourself, why have the Palestinians in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon have refrained from provoking Israel in any serious manner since the Palestinians in the West Bank suffered from the Israeli onslaught in the wake of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2009? Hamas and Hezbollah in particular have not as of yet recovered from the destruction they sustained, and for them to re-engage Israel militarily would be nothing short of suicide. This is the reason why the Palestinian Authority opted to forsake violence to achieve its political objectives by peaceful means and the reason behind the relative calm that has prevailed. If one adds to that the element of the peace agreement, the likelihood of a new conflagration will become increasingly less desirable.

The issue is not where the border is finally drawn. Successive Israeli governments have sold the myth to the Israeli public linking the borders to national security, when in fact building settlements, such as Ariel, deep into the West Bank is ideologically motivated and has little if anything to do with national security. Indeed, what makes the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state defensible is not as much where the final border is finally established, but continued Israeli deterrence and, in particular, on the establishment of a comprehensive peace and normal relations in which both sides develop, over time, a vested interest. Any claim to the contrary is baseless regardless of what the ultimate intentions of the Palestinians are, as many Israelis contend.

It is a common belief in Israel that the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, cannot be trusted. They further argue that even if an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is achieved today the Palestinians will annul it as soon as they feel that its dissolution will work to their advantage. Many Israelis insist that the Palestinians are inherently committed to Israel’s destruction and that for the Palestinians, forging a peace agreement will amount to nothing more than a tactical move while waiting for a better day to realize their ultimate goal to bring about the destruction of Israel. The question is, however, who would make peace on the basis of trust alone? Trust can be cultivated only through a constructive and ongoing relationship that only peace can foster.

Let us assume for a moment that the lack of trust is the main obstacle to making peace. The question is, when will the day come when both sides begin to trust each other? Will it come after developing trade, commercial, cultural, scientific and diplomatic ties, or will it come when the occupation continues, the settlements expand, multiple checkpoints remain in place and thousands of Palestinian prisoners languish in Israeli jails ? Defying Israel today does not come from religious beliefs, albeit Hamas and others find it convenient to create such a link to convey their convictions. Indeed, notwithstanding the religious component of the conflict, the people, including the Palestinians want to live. They know that there is no virtue in dying in vain, especially when the prospect of destroying Israel is virtually non-existent, and more than anything else, when they have something to hold onto, like an independent state of their own.

Israel is and remains, for as far as the eye can see, a military power that no individual Arab state or combination of states can overwhelm militarily, and if they try they will do so at their peril. At no time in its history has Israel been stronger militarily. This mighty military prowess can and will be used to deter, defend or go on the offensive should Israel’s security be threatened. For this reason Israel cannot mortgage its security to a third party, it must remain vigilant, powerful and ready at all times to take any legitimate military action deemed necessary to ensure its survival.

Such a military power however can and indeed must also be used to reach out to the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab states from a position of strength. Otherwise, what is the point of such a military prowess if it does not advance peace? Israel will become increasingly more isolated, gradually evolving into a garrison state with ever diminishing friends and allies. As it is, there is not a single country in the whole world, including the US, that supports the occupation and calls on Israel to end it for its own sake.

Meanwhile Israel is gradually losing its soul and its resonance as it was envisioned by its founders. It is time for the Netanyahu government to be honest with the public and stop covering for the expansion and the building of new settlements in the name of national security.

Click here to read this article and more on AlonBen-Meir.com.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gates lashes out at Israel and warns against military strike on Iran

I am glad, finally a Republican had the common sense and the guts to speak out, most of the Republicans know that the aggressive stance of a few among us is wrong, but simply do not have courage to say, what is wrong is wrong.

Those few like, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Cain, Bachman, Huckabee and others even surprise Israelis for the pro-Israeli mouthing they do. Neither moderate majority of Israelis, nor the Jewry around the world is in favor of endangering Israel through Netanyahu’s’ bully pulpit. Loot at the way the American Jews dumped these men and women in the primaries and nearly 70% of Jews are with Obama, the sane man on the Middle East Policy. Netanyahu’s policies will render Israel insecure for generations to come; he has pushed Israel into isolation. I seriously doubt if he represents the view of a majority of Israelis and Jews around the world.  

Gates is right, and I have been talking about the same in numerous write ups as well as speaking out on Hannity Show at Fox News. I predict the timid ones will find a shepherd in Gates.

War is wrong, it will destroy Israel, Iran, others and US.  The common man gets screwed, while Cheney, Bush and others have their own safe heavens, they will never have to worry about losing the job, putting their hungry kids to bed or getting their home foreclosed.

Secretary Gates, you are a true American hero and a supporter of Israel and the peace.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to build cohesive societies.
#  # #

Former US defense secretary lashes out at Israel, warns against military strike on Iran
Israel ‘does not have a blank check to harm American interests,’ says Robert Gates — who last year called the Jewish state an ungrateful ally

The United States needs to tell Israel that it does not “have a blank check to take action that could do grave harm to American vital interests,” according to former US defense secretary Robert Gates.
Gates, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 through 2011, was quoted by the Virginian-Pilot as warning against a military strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, saying it could “prove catastrophic.”
Neither the United States nor Israel is capable of totally destroying Iran’s nuclear program, Gates said, and any strike would ultimately backfire.
“Such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable,” he said. “They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert.”
Speaking at a forum in Norfolk, Virginia on Wednesday, Gates added, ”The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”
Gates, who served in the Central Intelligence Agency for 26 years before becoming secretary of defense, suggested letting the United Nations attempt to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for the international community — and especially the United States — to warn Iran against passing a “red line” in nuclear enrichment beyond which military measures would be taken. The Obama administration has firmly rejected the idea of red lines, but has said it will stop Iran attaining nuclear weapons.
Last year, shortly before he stepped down as secretary of defense, Gates harshly criticized Netanyahu’s government and called Israel an ungrateful ally of the United States.

A ray of hope for Israeli Palestinian peace process

HOPE FOR ISRAEL PALESTINIAN PEACE PROCESSMoving forward with Israel Palestinian confederation

Each one of us is responsible to contribute towards the common good of the society we live in. We must work towards creating cohesive societies, where no one has to feel insecure, apprehensive or fearful of the others.

Thank God for providing me the opportunity to do my share of the  peace work involving Israel-Palestine, India-Pakistan and a few other conflicts. I am inspired by the words of Jesus, and the commitment was reinforced when I stood on Mt. Beatitude where Jesus delivered his sermon, Blessed are the peace makers, I felt the sermon deeply touching me. My other three inspirers are Prophet Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. 

 I have been to Jerusalem, talked to groups of Israelis and Palestinians, Knesset Members and Palestinian Parliamentarians, traveled extensively in Israel, and God willing I will be going to Jerusalem again on 12.12.12 to witness the elections proceedings in Israel as a board member of the Israeli Palestinian Confederation, more about it appended below.
Who am I to worry about Israelis and Palestinians? What inspires me to be involved in the Israel Palestine conflict? The following is the story of my struggle to see a cohesive world, the story will take you through different emotions but at the end, I hope you feel a sense of hope. It is a three part story published in Huffington post.  I have kept up with the conflict since I was a teenager, and had always wanted to contribute in the smallest possible way I can - Resulting in production of 5 Annual events called reflections on Holocaust and Genocides, with media coverage, and a full blog www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com with 100 articles. 

It is a blessing to have met Josef Avesar who heads the IPC. It was also a pleasure to write a note about the book, included in the inside pages of  the book,  “Peace, a case for an Israeli Palestinian Federation” and the book was presented to Sean Hannity of Fox News, when I was on his show. Check out the website to purchase the book
www.ipconfederation.org, it was released on United Nations day last year.
It’s a small step forward, but will gradually bring about a positive change. Nothing ever happens without making an effort.  I am pleased to be a part of this organization and admire the leadership of Josef Avesar.

We have 633 candidates for Parliament and 117 for President. The elections will start in 72 days. To view the candidates or read about the Constitution, please go to our website: www.ipconfederation.org.
.........................Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest onSean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly atHuffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blogwww.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily.

A Pragmatic Way to Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A Pragmatic Way to Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Six years ago, I received an invitation to participate in an event on peace-building in the Middle East at the University of California, Los Angeles. The seminar had been organized by a local lawyer, Josef Avesar, along with academics at UCLA to find a novel way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The idea was taken from other historic territorial conflicts and rivalries – to establish an Israeli-Palestinian  Confederation – analogous to the cantons of Switzerland uniting or indeed the articles of confederation of the United States, as noted by Amherst College political scientist Ronald Tiersky in the Jerusalem Post earlier this year.  However, unlike earlier efforts, this idea was to be implemented from the grassroots using the internet as a platform to recruit candidates for a “virtual parliament,” while the policy-makers remained deadlocked.

In six years, Mr.  Avesar has been determined despite all odds and has managed to get over 700 Israelis and Palestinians (including in Gaza) to run in a virtual election which will be held on December 12, 2012. Those who may dismissed this as a gimmick should note that even a willingness to run in an election of this kind poses peril to the candidates but they are willing to do so because they see this as the most tangible effort to “think outside the box” and move beyond the stagnation of one-state/ two-state fixes.

Last week, the New York Times published a full-page advertisement regarding the IPC and its election plan. Yet the level of suspicion, cynicism and contempt on all sides remains intense. There is still deep-rooted suspicion of even those of us who aspire for peace. As a board member of the IPC and as a Pakistani-American, I often hear from both Arabs and Israelis that such initiatives are merely a means of social-climbing or prize-fishing. Often we get labelled as “sell-outs” or “conspirators” or for those who like to offer a patronizing pat on the back, simply dismissed as “well-intentioned idealists.”

In my visit to Israel in 2010 on an invitation from Tel Aviv University and the U.S. embassy, I was alarmed to find how much the narrative of peace-building has eroded – to use an environmental metaphor. There is an uneasy calm, and a surprisingly sanguine sense of security, which many Israelis voiced to me across the political spectrum. Efforts such as the Israeli Palestinian Confederation are thus seen as an attempt to disrupt this calm. Yet, the reality remains that the status quo is untenable in the long-run. The Arab Spring and its aftermath reminds us that the magma of misery that many feel in the Middle East cannot be contained simply by higher walls and military security strategies. Initiatives such as the IPC deserve our attention because they urge us to consider hybridity in conflict resolution strategies – a pathway between the polarization of hard versus soft strategies.

Another path to peace which deserves  more attention is to get Israelis and Palestinians to study together and develop an epistemic community on fields such as environmental science. Such an approach is best exemplified by The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. Environmental factors will ultimately define the quality of life in the regions for all ethnicities and political persuasion – particularly within Israel’s political landscape which has become more atomized in recent years. The administration of Arava noted that it is more difficult for Arava to recruit West Bank Jewish settlers to study with Palestinians than it is for them to recruit Palestinians to study with Israelis.

During my visit to the Arava Institute in January, 2010 I met a young Jewish-American student who told me how his brother had chided him for being a bleeding heart for wanting to study with Palestinians.
I share this somber example with you because any celebration of peace-building and environmental stewardship must remain grounded in “reality checks.” The willingness of the Arava Institute to challenge Israeli law concerning the lack of access of Palestinians to educational institutions in Israel is an important example of their bold willingness to engage on these matters. As with the 700+ election-runners in the IPC virtual parliament, it is heartening to see Israelis and Palestinian students willing to endure the scorn of many of their friends for studying at the Arava Institute – the yearning for peace is high and regrettably gets eclipsed by the cacophony of radicals.
Additional initiatives such as Friends of the Earth – Middle East or the University of the Middle East Project, must be supported no matter how bleak the prospects for peace may seem. Peace-building is a generational struggle and a responsibility that incrementally falls on us all. The success of the IPC in my view remains in the process of cognitive change which it is fostering. The December 12, 2012 virtual election will be a momentous achievement even if its symbolic. All those willing to engage and embrace a democratic mechanism through this novel idea deserve to be congratulated and supported.
 # # #

Video explaining Israel Palestinian confederation

# # 

New York Times ad seeks candidates for joint Israeli-Palestinian parliament

New York Times ad seeks candidates for joint Israeli-Palestinian parliament
Confederation initiative launched by Israeli-born lawyer who now lives in California

An initiative to establish an Israeli-Palestinian confederation and joint parliament was publicized Monday with a full page advertisement in the New York Times, aimed at recruiting 1,500 parliamentary candidates from both sides of the conflict.
The initiative was launched by Israeli-born lawyer Josef Avesar, a California resident, and has been endorsed by former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami and Palestinian peace activist and National Council member Hanna Siniora.

Elections for a planned joint Israeli-Palestinian parliament are to be held on December 12, and the Confederation’s website allows Israeli and Palestinians over the age of 21 to submit their candidacy for parliament member or president. The parliament is to include 300 members, elected by 300 voting districts encompassing Israel and the Palestinian territories. Candidates must declare online “under penalty of perjury” that they are residents “of Israel or Palestine.”

The joint parliament is not intended to replace the existing Israeli and Palestinian legislatures, organizers explain, but rather help bridge the gap between the sides. According to the parliament’s constitution, legislation can only pass with the consent of both sides.
With a board of directors located in the United States, it is unclear where the parliament would convene once elected. Article 1 of the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation’s constitution stipulates only that “the time, place, and manner of the Parliament’s legislative sessions and voting mechanism shall be prescribed by the Parliament.”
# # #

Monday, October 1, 2012

Only The U.S. Can End The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

I have been reading Professor Ben-Meir's take on Israel and Palestine conflict, we have identical take on the issues. I have explored the same idea for years; the Neocons unfortunately have become parasites of the Republican party, them and guys like Netayahu and his ilk,  talk about the security of Israel, but do the exact opposite of it.  They believe in bully power, the power that will keep Israel insecure for generations, justice to the Palestinians and security to Israel will be sustainable, if it happens through a genuine dialogue.  

Romney would be bad for Israel's security and Justice for the Palestinians. He just does not have what it takes to bring deeply rooted conflicts to heal, he is business man, either he will cut the losses in the middle or stick with the friend Netanyahu to Israel's detriment. We the people,  will end up paying the price in terms of anguish, and a sense of doing the wrong to both the people. He will be no different than our former president, operating from the seat of his pants, rather than brains. Obama had great chances, but blew it, but he will not screw it up to hurt Israelis, Palestinians, and us the Americans. He is the least worst choice now.

Mike Ghouse

Only The U.S. Can End The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Oct 1, 2012

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved without the direct and active involvement of the United States, using both inducements and coercive diplomacy to bring about a peaceful solution. If the conflict remains unresolved over the next couple of years it will most likely precipitate a massive violent conflagration to the detriment of the Israelis and Palestinians and will also severely damage the U.S.’ security, economic interests and its credibility in the region. For these reasons, what the next president of the U.S. does within a few months after his inauguration will determine the future prospect of a solution, and the extent to which the candidates adhere to their campaign rhetoric will have a clear and immediate effect on how the Israelis and Palestinians react to any new American initiative to resolve the conflict. 

Mitt Romney’s position toward the conflict raises serious questions not only about his timidity but also his shortsightedness in connection with a complex conflict that has been simmering for decades and will, without a doubt, explode if a resolution is not found soon. In a number of bewildering statements, Romney blamed Palestinian “culture” as the cause of their current predicaments and faulted them for having “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.” With these comments, Romney is in fact sending the Israelis a clear message that they should maintain the occupation, further expand the settlements, and keep the blockade on Gaza, while inferring the U.S. will not bother to interfere. Conversely, Romney’s message to the Palestinians is that they have missed many opportunities in the past to achieve peace, their yearning for statehood is a pipe dream, and they should expect little, if any, assistance from a Romney administration. 

In the wake of the Arab Spring, however, as the Palestinians watch young men and women in several Arab states fighting and dying for their freedoms, their own relative passivity at the present will not last forever. Romney’s preference of “[kicking] the ball down the field,” (that is, letting events take their own course) is dangerously misguided and ultimately detrimental to the cause of peace. 

Indeed, should Romney become President and move to translate his campaign rhetoric into policy, he will seriously endanger Israel’s very existence, which he presumably wishes to protect, and will compromise its future as an independent democratic Jewish state while contributing to its isolation from the international community. At the same time, he will encourage the Palestinians to rise up out of desperation and hopelessness to end the occupation at whatever cost, akin to the rise of Arab youth against their own governments who are prepared to die for their freedom. 

President Obama himself has contributed to the current impasse in part by insisting early in 2009 that the peace negotiations should start by first freezing the settlements, which was a nonstarter for the Netanyahu government, and by failing to visit Israel when he travelled three times overseas visiting four Arab/Muslim states. The president went to Turkey in April of 2009, in June of the same year he visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and in November 2010 he traveled to Indonesia. For most Israelis, skipping Israel three times was nothing short of a slap in the face, especially in light of the fact that the President made a solution to the conflict a top priority by appointing former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as a Special Envoy to the region only 2 days after his inauguration. To demonstrate his seriousness about the urgent need for a solution, the next President must visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority and make it abundantly clear where the US stands. 

Nonetheless, President Obama, throughout his presidency and recently reiterated in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly, has insisted that the only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict rests on creating two independent states, a Jewish and a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace while growing and prospering together as neighbors. Any other message coming from the White House, regardless of party affiliation, will fundamentally be injurious to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The notion from some American politicians who have said that the U.S. should not have a greater desire for peace than the parties to the conflict is shortsighted. The U.S. has serious stakes in the region and responsibility toward its allies. The lack of peace will continue to undermine the U.S.’ interest, erode its influence and jeopardize its role in shaping the outcome of the multiple upheavals sweeping the region in the wake of the Arab Spring. 

To advance the prospect for peace between Israel and Palestine, the next president must take a number of critical steps. First, within a few months after the election, the President should visit Israel and Palestine and directly address the Israeli people as well as the Palestinians, strongly suggesting that only peace will serve their greater interests. He must look into the eyes of the Israeli and Palestinian public and emphasize that the U.S. is committed to a two-state solution and will remain consistent and resilient until such a resolution is achieved. The president should also accentuate that the U.S. will use all means available at its disposal to advance the two-state solution and stress that further delay would only harden the many facts on the ground, especially the expansion of settlements, becoming irreversible and rendering any future peace agreement virtually impossible. 

Second, the President must carry with him a general framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on prior agreements negotiated between the two sides, especially those achieved in 2000 (at Camp David between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak) and in 2007-2008 between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. In both sets of these comprehensive negotiations, the two sides have been able to resolve the vast majority of the conflicting issues. In the 2007-2008 talks, then-Israeli Prime Minister Olmert stated both sides had come “very close, more than ever in the past, to complete a principle agreement that would have led to the end of the conflict.” These prior agreements should be placed on the table anew and modified in order to create a clear basis for negotiating a peace agreement with the U.S.’ direct participation. 

Third, to increase the framework’s effectiveness, a new internationally recognized special envoy of the caliber of President Clinton should be appointed with a clear presidential mandate to work relentlessly to advance the negotiating process while keeping a top level American official in the region to press on with the negotiations during the occasional absence of the special envoy. To avoid deadlocks, the rules of engagement should be based on an incremental agreement on various conflicting issues, ideally starting with borders. The Palestinians should abandon their precondition to freeze the settlements before they enter the negotiating process. An agreement on borders will in and of itself resolve 70 to 80 percent of the final status of the settlements and define the parameters of the Palestinian state. Such an agreement will also facilitate the negotiations of other conflicting issues, including the status of Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, and Israel’s national security. Finally, the negotiations should not be open-ended; a timeline must be established, albeit with some flexibility, to prevent either party from playing for time. 

Fourth, it is imperative that the U.S. reaches out to other leading Arab and Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to make necessary concessions. Egypt must also be approached about beginning the process of influencing Hamas to change its open enmity towards and hardline policy against Israel. In particular, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-led government should persuade Hamas to renounce violence as a tool by which to reach its political objective of establishing an independent Palestinian state and remove from its charter the clause that calls for Israel’s destruction. These Arab states, especially Egypt, have serious stakes in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, any new conflagration between Israel and the Palestinians will impact directly and indirectly not only on their interests, but could also draw them into the conflict which they want to avoid at all costs given their own internal political combustion and uncertainty. 

Fifth, once the Israelis and Palestinians engage in negotiations, the U.S. should press both to immediately begin the process of changing their public narratives about each other by mutually ending acrimonious statements and expressions of hatred and distrust. To that end both governments should encourage universities, nonpartisan think tanks, and media outlets to deliberate publicly about the psychological dimensions of the conflicting issue and begin a process of changing mindsets about some of the inevitabilities of reaching an agreement. 

Even when the leaders reach an agreement behind closed doors, they cannot simply come out with pronouncements of concessions that were made by either side without first preparing the public. For example, an agreement on Palestinians refugees will of necessity entail the return of only a small fraction of refugees to Israel proper under family reunification, when in fact the vast majority of Palestinians still believe in the right of return. Additionally there can be no two-state solution without Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel and Palestine, albeit the city will remain united, which will be difficult for the Israeli public to accept. For these reasons, changing public perception about each conflicting issue is central to ratifying any peace accord. 

Sixth, in reaching out to the Arab and Muslim world, the President should help reignite the Arab Peace Initiative (API) which still represents the most comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The revival of the API remains critically important as even top Israeli officials, including the former head of the Israeli Mossad, Meir Dagan, have stated that the plan is central to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. As the whole region undergoes revolutionary change in the wake of the Arab Spring, restarting the API will have special importance in reaching a comprehensive peace and long-term stability. The creation of a “sovereign, independent Palestinian state,” which the API calls for, will greatly contribute to stabilizing the region. Indeed, various Arab and Muslim countries will begin to normalize relations with Israel and foster a lasting peace that will ultimately improve the lives of millions of ordinary citizens throughout the region. 

The Arab-Israeli conflict has been overshadowed in recent months by international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, the bloody civil war which continues to rage in Syria and the unending insurgencies and terrorism that continues to plague many nations. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is quietly simmering underneath the surface and is becoming ever more perilous. Israel continues to expand existing settlements and legalize others while the Palestinians remain hopelessly factionalized and aimless, unable to present a unified front to be taken seriously, and thus, leaving the festering conflict in the hands of radicals on both sides. 

For either President Obama or Mitt Romney, finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should remain a top priority. The status quo is explosive and it can only lead to a new violent and death-defying confrontation that will leave no victors behind but will result in horrifying destruction and will irreparably deepen the already existing divide between the two sides.

The United States has both the interest and the responsibility to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian self-consuming conflict in a region where the stakes for all concerned cannot be overestimated.