Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hamas have condemned the Holocaust. Raphael Levy responds "That would be good and welcome news. It appears however, that it is only when it speaks to CIF readers that Hamas condemns the Holocaust and antisemitism."

Raphael, Did you read the Guardian article by Daniel Barenboim ? He writes:

"Sometimes people ask me, "What is a Jew?" The answer is the following: a Jew who has antisemitic experiences in Berlin in 2008 is different from the Jew who had antisemitic experiences in 1940. The Jew of 1940 felt threatened; the Jew of today can think of his own land, of Israel. Today I can say, "Either you learn to deal with me, you antisemite, or we go our separate ways." That makes an existential difference. I am a short-term pessimist about the Middle East, but a long-term optimist. Either we will find a way to live with each other or we will kill each other. What gives me hope? Music-making. Because, before a Beethoven symphony, Mozart's Don Giovanni or Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, all human beings are equal."

As Jews are diverse, so are Palestinians, and so are members of Hamas. Each has his or her own history , resulting in his or her unique motivations and complexity. It is easy to take absolutist positions, as in "All Zionists are racists, therefore Israel must disappear" or "All Palestinians are militants, therefore they must be defeated". Absolutism is a recipe for annihilation of the Land itself, in a huge, possibly nuclear, war.

We greens have a duty to find a way to peace. We have to be able to see over the wall that divides the two communities, we have to point to the common humanity and common Land that unites them. The needs of the people and the Land transcend the need of some to express their hate in actions that can only create more hate.

The first step is to look at any gift from the "enemy", no matter how small, for what it is - a gift. Look away from the gift, and you can see plenty to hate; that is old news, but the gift is new. This condemnation of the Shoa by Hamas is a gift. Accept it.

It will take more than one gift to break down the wall of distrust. Israelis told me that the Arab word for ceasefire means "rearm". Palestinians tell me that every time they negotiate, Israel ends up with more of their territory. A succession of gifts, each one bigger than the previous is necessary. There will be setbacks. Yes some of the gifts may contain poison. So be careful, but continue to trade in gifts.

Peacebuilding is long, difficult and challenges us all to the depths of our being, but if the alternative is all-out war, we have to speak with our "enemies".
It worked in Northern Ireland, it worked in South Africa. It can work in Israel/Palestine also, if you will let it.

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