Fantasies

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 18 Oct 2021

Amos Gvirtz – TRANSCEND Media Service

11 Oct 2021 – I fantasized about a different speech. Let’s imagine that instead of threatening Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett had appealed to its leadership to change direction.

For example: instead of channeling all your and our energies into preparing for a war that will wreak havoc and death on our peoples and the peoples of the region, let us rather strive to resolve our conflict and advance the well-being of our peoples and the peoples of the region.

Let us imagine that Bennett had announced that Israel is favorably considering the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative and in the interest of building trust between the two sides, will halt all activities in the West Bank aimed at the displacement of Palestinians as well as launch an initiative to rebuild Gaza.

I know that most readers of this article will think that I am a hopeless dreamer who understands nothing of what is happening around him.

Israel has become the neighborhood bully – after all, none of its neighbors wanted it to exist – but that position could only have been achieved with the help of an international bully who stood to benefit from its support of the neighborhood bully. Of course this support was not given freely. The neighborhood bully has to serve the interests of the international bully. During the 1950s it was France who backed Israel in exchange for safeguarding its interests, but France’s support weakened when these interests shifted. And then Israel managed to procure the support of the number one international bully, the United States of America. A dream come true!

Jimmy Carter’s election to president of the US was an “historic accident.” To the best of my knowledge, the man dared to ask how to best use his tremendous power. Should it be used to continue to maintain the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union while preparing and honing their capabilities for mutual destruction? Or should it be directed towards the creation of a better world, one whose leaders would be concerned principally with the welfare and well-being of their people? In the elections that followed American citizens took care to correct the “error.”

Regarding Israel, President Carter was given the opportunity to try and realize his vision. Egypt had shifted its Cold War orientation from the Soviets to America and part of the deal was to apply American pressure on Israel to return Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace. Carter wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries which would require a solution of both the Palestinian and Syrian conflicts. Israel’s refusal, apparently with strong support from within the US administration, prevented Carter from fulfilling his vision and forced him to content himself with a separate peace between Egypt and Israel. To this day Carter is persona non grata in Israeli government circles.

Today, waning American interest in Middle Eastern oil together with its increased unwillingness to pay for these interests with the blood of its soldiers, has served to strengthen Israel’s power as the neighborhood bully. Israel presents itself as the major power standing between Iran and its ambitions for regional domination. This is the rationale behind the Abraham Accords. Israel protects Sunni countries from the spread of Shiite Iran’s influence in exchange for easing the pressure on Israel on Palestinian and Syrian issues.

And so the military build-up continues. Oh yes, on both sides. Only it is impossible to shake off the troubling questions: where are you leading us? What vision do you offer us? To live by the sword forever?  Or is there some safe shore that one can hope to reach? And perhaps my fantasies offer an alternative vision?

Western Europe realized these fantasies when, following the calamities of two world wars, they established the Common Market and then the European Union. It seems to me that Europe is flourishing like never before.

Will we continue with the present policy until death and mutual destruction – on the scale that occurred in Europe – force the survivors to learn the lessons? Or will we show wisdom and choose the path of peace before this happens?

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Amos Gvirtz is founder of Israelis and Palestinians for Nonviolence, was chairperson of the Committee against House Demolitions, and a peace and human rights activist. He is a former Israeli representative to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and wrote the book, Don’t Say We Did Not Know. It is live in the Amazon store and is available for readers to purchase here. In Kindle you can read it for free.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Oct 2021.

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