Good News From The Holy Land

EDITORIAL, 28 Dec 2009

#94 | Johan Galtung

There was midnight mass in the little village church. The news–or olds–from the Holy Land were recited by the young priest: For us is today a Savior born, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The amens filled the church.

Next morning an AlJazeera panel about the Holy Land:  “West Bank settlers are dominated by a messianic-eschatolgical minority”, “no separation between church and state”, “time for a two-states solution is running out”, “maybe a Middle East Community, a BeNeLux, something like that”, “Netanyahu is only a right wing opportunist”. “the death of Zionism” – –

From whom the Holy Land news?  Avraham Burg, once speaker of Knesset, and president of the World Zionist Organization.

“Since 1967 Israel has been running a colonial empire”, “the Israeli army is a colonial police”, said another. And then: “Algeria resettled a million settlers; Israel will soon have half a million.  But where is the Israeli de Gaulle?, and a de Klerk, seeing the handwriting and acting accordingly”, “some settlers could remain on the West Bank in exchange for, on a one to one basis, Palestinians returning to Israel”, “even Olmert said in an interview that military victories will not give us peace, only land for Palestine”. (1)

Thus spoke the panel.

Meanwhile, an English court had issued an arrest order for Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni–programmed to visit the UK privately, hence without diplomatic immunity–the moment she set her foot on English soil, accused of war crimes in connection with the attack on Gaza a year ago. The parallel to a similar order in 1998 against Augusto Pinochet is clearly obvious, even if his crimes were minor compared to Israel.

She canceled the visit, and the order was withdrawn.  But Article 146 of the protocols of the Geneva Convention makes it a clear duty of states to apprehend war criminals regardless of nationality and where the crime was committed.

Meanwhile, the European Union declares Jerusalem as capital not only for Israel, but also for Palestine.

Meanwhile, the Jewish American opposition to US Israel policy, and to AIPAC, grows, the J street conferences in Washington being an example.  The very Israel-leaning Obama had at least some kind of verbal duel with Netanyahu about the ever increasing settlement, “natural growth” being a formula, no doubt the next one is already prepared by some think tank.

The Israeli responses are typical of a regime in decline and impending fall: rage, hysteria, character assassination of Goldstone, the author of the five hundred pages best report Israel could ever hope for; wild attacks on the UK and talks of boycott if they do not change their legislation. They are gambling on US support forever, and have powerful forces to count on, including Obama.  So far. But, they let the white apartheid go.  They let the Marcos dictatorship go.  They are letting the Chiang Kai Shek pretensions go. One day they will decide to let the zionist Israel grip on the Middle East go.

When the culture is no longer guiding human action, we talk of anomie: the grip is loosening.  When the structure is no longer guiding human action we may talk about atomie: the tissue is unraveling.  And when there is a disconnect between culture and structure, we may call about absurdity. Like UK colonialism exposed to the moral challenge of a Gandhi. Like “socialist” Europe exposed to the moral challenge of the dissidents.  Like the Holy Israel exposed to reality.

Time is approaching for the TRANSCEND August 2001 perspective:


    For Israel and Palestine there is no security at the end of this road of violence; only increased violence and insecurity.

    Israel is now in the most dangerous period of its history:

increasingly militarist, fighting unwinnable wars, increasingly isolated and with ever more enemies, exposed to violence, non-violence and boycott from within and without, with the USA sooner or later making support conditional on concessions. The basic change in South Africa, from inside and outside, comes to mind:

** Israel’s moral capital is rapidly depreciating, is probably negative in most countries, slowly also changing in the USA;

** Israel suffers from a de facto military coup, offering the electorate a choice of generals with limited agendas;

** Israeli violence and intransigence mobilize resistance and struggle in the Arab and Muslims worlds, if not in the sense of inter-state warfare then in the postmodern sense of terrorism against Israeli state-terrorism.  Highly motivated volunteers willing to enter this struggle are in unlimited supply;

** Sooner or later this will include the 18% Israeli Arabs;

** Sooner or later this may lead to massive nonviolent struggle, like 100,000 Arab women in black marching on Israel;

** Economic boycott of Israeli may come, like for South Africa initiated by NGOs and followed by local authorities and, like South Africa, maybe more important morally than economically;

** Again like for South Africa, US policy may change:

-economically Israel is becoming a liability, given trade-oil problems with Arab countries no longer willing to see the USA as a third party; with imminent boycotts and pressure to disinvest;

militarily Israel may commit the USA to a highly ambiguous war, and bases are available elsewhere (Turkey, Kosova, Macedonia);

politically Israel is a liability in the UN, the EU, and NATO allies, may not legitimize violent intervention. USA may prefer a reasonable agreement to supporting a loser (the Shah, Marcos).

Could this peace package be more attractive to reasonable people if the context changes in the way foreseen here?

[1] Palestine is recognized as a state following UNSC Res. 242, 338; with 4 June 1967 borders with small land exchanges;

[2] The capital of Palestine is in East Jerusalem;

[3] A Middle East Community with Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria as full members, with water, arms, trade regimes based on multilateral consensus; and an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East with a broader base;

[4] The Community is supported by the EU, Nordic Community and ASEAN financially and for institution-building expertise;

[5] Egypt and Jordan lease additional land to Palestine;

[6] Israel and Palestine become federations with 2 Israeli cantons in Palestine and 2 Palestinian cantons in Israel;

[7] The two neighbor capitals become a city confederation, also host to major regional, UN and ecumenical institutions;

[8] The right of return also to Israel is accepted in principle, numbers to be negotiated within the canton formula;

[9] Israel and Palestine have joint and equitable economic ventures, joint peace education and joint border patrolling;

[10] Massive stationing of UN monitoring forces.

[11] Sooner or later a Truth and Reconciliation process. Mediating a peace package should not be a country, or a group of countries; but a respected person or group of such persons. (018)


(1) Olmert wording from New York Review of Books, TMS 05-01-09: We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from all of the [occupied] territories.  Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]-without this there will be no peace.  Including Jerusalem, with, I’d imagine, special arrangements made for the Temple Mount and the holy/historical sites.)

(2) 50 Years: 100 Peace & Conflict Perspectives, chapter 16d, TRANSCEND University Press, 2008, see

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Dec 2009.

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