The Vision: Plurality, democracy, justice
The chism today remains as it was for decades not a chism between states or between people. Instead what we have are two visions and states of humanity. On the one hand justice and peace and on the other a world of corporate greed and police states sustained by fear and violence. The world has seen periods were the latter state took hold and those were the periods of violence, oppression. The world has also seen goodness and justice. In the last 10 years, we saw that the only obstacle to having fear and violence dominate our world was the tens of millions of people protesting and positively acrting to effect change towards peace and justice. Their growth and their actions are beginning to get louder against globalization and against war.
There is much to be optimistic about. Hate of "others" may rally a few supporters but it does not build a lasting power. Fascists and Nazi ideologues used hate to build transient structures of state might. Norman Finkelstein documented in his book "The Holocaust Industry" how leading Zionists used the WWII holocaust to build hatred for others (Muslims and Arabs) and bring financial and political support of racist notions against native Palestinians. The harmful words and actions of Elie Wiesel, Daniel Pipes, Charles Krauthammer, and others do have consequences. While this may bring some financial and political support, to a few, its victims are numerous and whatever gains it brings to its advocates are transitory. Inevitably it leads to a backlash and violence.
Rhetoric and emotions can be used to build transitory might and influence. But if we as a human species will ever outgrow violence and war and build just and equitable societies, we must start with a discipline and control directed first and foremost on those we can influence: ourselves. That unlocks also our own power to effect real positive change in society. For many it is choosing between the lasting power of love and the transient power of hate.
I like other Palestinians see the struggle in Palestine in many ways as a Palestinian shaped by my own experiences of oppression. Yet I have lived more than half my life outside of Palestine and have come to view the struggle as connected to all other struggles around the world. The situation is peculiar in its geography and unique history but the forces and interests remain the same as those that shaped similar struggles in America, in South Africa, in Vietnam, and elsewhere.
Much needs to be done to bring local democracy even to places that claim to champion democracy (like the US). Local democracy means individuals develop self governance locally and their lives are not shattered by imposition from bureaucracy from outside and arbitrary denial of basic rights enshrined in the Universal Decalarion oF human Rights. Some threats to such democracy at the grassroot level include globalization (in the now customary way of explaining this as free movement of capitals and goods but not people), and violence (Thad Williamson, David Improscio, and Gar Alperovitz Making a Place for Community, Local Democracy in a Global Era Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, New York and London, 2003.)
From the individuality to the putting the community interest first is a long leap. Human historical experimentation from ethnic nationalism to empires have obviously failed at preventing suffering and war. My prediction is that the 21st century is likely to witness the most intense struggle between local democracy and global military/industrial hegemony. I believe local democracy will ultimately win and this will be good for the more human interest of individuals to support the larger collective: the human family.
The Charter of the African National Congress provides a good model for a document of Universal appeal which can be emulated in dealing with the question of Palestine/Israel. http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/charter.html
To achieve peace and justice in the area is really conceptually simple: enforce the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see Exhibit 1). Amnesty International presented a 10-point agenda for a durable peace based on human rights (reproduced in Exhibit 2). It is in fact impossible to envision a peace that would work without human rights. This was sadly attempted via the signed agreements between Israel and the PLO in Oslo and beyond which disregard basic rights enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Conventions (refugees rights, illegal settlement activities, collective punishment). It is essential in the success of future peace agreements to ensure respect for Human Rights. The logical extension of this is equality and thus having a pluralistic, multicultural socoieties that respect the rights of both majorities and minorities.
Towards this vision, I have put together a book Titled "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle" (Pluto Press, 2004; see http://qumsiyeh.org ). It provides the background and objective analysis demonstrating taht sharing the land and a pluralistic democratic and unified society is the best approach to peace with Justice. This manual for activists will discuss in the coming chapters the "how to" techniques used by activists to arrive at such a vision.