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AFTER THE LONGEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR

December 23, 2015

This evening, another three Israelis are hospitalized, attacked at the place where most of us enter the old city, Jaffa Gate. One of the men is fighting for his life. The terrorists are dead. Israeli policy to kill, not wound, terrorists in the act, is widely applauded here. In this outrageous turmoil, we are reassured by the solid certainty that the knifer was neutralized, forever. A crumb of satisfaction for our vengeful selves. We dig deeper into the hopelessness of the moment.

John Kerry was on my you-tube screen this week, 27 years old in uniform, as spokesman for Vietnam Vets against the War, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington. In the session, he is eloquent, dignified, reserved, and under-stated. He breaks the silence, just as our own Breaking the Silence folks are doing, documenting the reality of our soldiers’ actions. Our friend, John Kerry, desperate to assist us in moving forward, describing back then the unimaginable things the soldiers did in Nam. He knows what unjust wars do to the aggressor. And today we Israelis are like some goalie who bats down Kerry’s every attempt to net the ball of hope. Breaking the silence? Break your heart, watching the clips of decent, non-leftist Israelis describing what occupation forced them to do to Palestinians. Tender young people testifying to the scars that have been left on their souls, knowing that they allowed themselves to be active in the oppression of human beings. See http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/protective-edge

Last evening, representatives of peace organizations met to look at the possibilities of cooperation. The Peace NGO’s have a new director and fresh energy for confronting the despair all around. We are all doing great things, anti-occupation archaeologists from “Emek Shaveh,” social networkers joining us with each other, Israeli Arab/Jewish womens’ groups. Wonderful people keeping the flame alive. And now we begin to look at the exigency of cooperative action. Snow, where each flake retains its niche but together we are a snowfall.

At the meeting, I had my head opened. Since ’79, I have championed the two-state solution as the only possible scenario for the future. I now believe there may be other, more viable scenarios. The two state solution is technical, it leaves the human factor out, assumes that we can evacuate some 150,000 settlers after the ’67 lines have be adjusted. Even if that were possible, the root of the problem remains unaddressed. For any peace agreement to work, there will have to be an increase of gradually-developed trust between the sides. Last night, I considered that Two States, One Homeland may be the way. http://2states1homeland.org/ In their vision, settlers remain where they are, Israeli citizens living under Palestinian hegemony. Palestinians can live in Israel while remaining Palestinian citizens. The police of both countries commit to protecting the people who live in their territory. But both peoples are free to move through their common homeland.

Outrageously presumptuous. It rests on the recognition that this entire land is home for both peoples. It requires the awareness, of both sides, of the need to make this work. Those settlements that sit on contested land must resolve the conflict and relinquish the land, if it belongs to Palestinians. No artificial attempt to divide Jerusalem, rather division into two capitals of two countries, responsibility divided and shared.

Perhaps my grandchildren will see this come to fruition. Whatever happens, they will surely ask, “What did Saba do to make this work out for us? Was he stuck in being ‘right’ about the solution, or did he work for an arrangement that could actually bring quiet to our lives?”

The solutions evade us, the present savagery dominates our thoughts. Endless chauffeuring to keep my daughter off the buses. And yet we must push on. The work will inevitably require us to reach out to our adversaries, to dare to engage with people’s fear and grimness, to summon hope and offer a path toward the overthrow of the seemingly unassailable forces of darkness in Israel. We ended the meeting, knowing that we must bring forth the goodness and dignity in this country, and that we’ve got to work together. Spirited NGO’s with a song in our collective heart, eager to take on the shifting winds in this stormy sea.

Yoav Peck is director of the Sulha Peace Project, bringing Palestinians and Israelis together for people-to-people contact

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