But There is No Peace – Why the Mideast “Peace Process” Needs to End


It was at my Uncle Mark’s fourth grade parent-teacher conference in 1970 that my Bubbe and Grandpa began to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mark had brought home his Chapter 2 math test, pressed with a ripe, shiny “78%.” There had been no teacher’s note, no call home, no indication that Mark had been struggling. The C+ wasn’t a failing grade, but it certainly signaled a fundamental misunderstanding of the material at hand. Why, my grandparents wondered, was there such a glaring lack of constructive follow-up?

By the time the conference came around, my Grandpa – whose charming frankness has bolstered a long career in business – was prepared to leave any sense of evasion at the door.

“Why did my son get a C on the last math test?” he asked Mr. Johnson.

The teacher explained that math grading was on a numerical basis, and the test had been worth a total of fifty points. Mark had scored thirty-eight of them, a C+. “We just present the material,” Mr. Johnson told my grandparents, “It’s up to the students to grasp it.” The teacher, it seemed, viewed his own reasoning as sound and effective.

My grandparents, however, saw a stark and damaging problem – one that could lead easily to more severe problems: Mark hadn’t been asked to study again or re-take the test, nor had Mr. Johnson made an effort to remediate the lessons of which his student had demonstrated such misunderstanding. Mark had likely not been the only fourth-grader to perform at a sub-par level. And yet, the class had continued on to Chapter 3.

There was no mention, at that fateful conference, of either Israel or Palestine. When I hear my Grandpa recount the story, I imagine the walls of the room being plastered with alphabet posters, shelves stacked with The Wind in the Willows dioramas and sheets upon sheets of smudged cursive letters. Admittedly, never, upon hearing that story, have my thoughts turned to the Middle East.

Until last week, when I sat in the back of a jam-packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton hotel. There, I listened as Shimon Peres, Israel’s celebrated and articulate president, addressed a crowd of hundreds of supporters of Los Angeles’s Jewish Federation. The moderator of the discussion asked Peres about Palestinian feelings of irrelevance. “Peace is a process,” Peres said, “not just a decision.” As I thought about that, my mind flashed to the parent-teacher conference. The following is where my mind wandered.

“Peace,” as an ideal, is Chapter 7, where all key figures – political entities, leaders, militaries, religious and societal groups – wear Mark’s shoes, hardly keeping hold of chapter two. Pushing them toward peace is akin to asking an out-of-shape toddler to swim the length of an Olympic pool. Peace, its very essence abstract, nondescript, and romanticized, connotes almost nothing concrete. By its nature, it is conceptual, not tangible. Its pursuit has propagated seasons of volatility, unrest, frustration, and regression on which the sun has yet to set.

In early 1775, on the eve of the birth of a nation that would become the world’s flagship demonstration of progressive thinking, one colonial leader conceded that the notion of “peace” was naïve – that his revolutionary brothers were better off acknowledging antagonism as an inevitable constant. “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace,” Patrick Henry told his compatriots, “But there is no peace.”

History dictates that diplomatic agreements in the Middle East serve to carry out specific regional tasks, almost never an inkling of broad, blanket “peace.” Camp David created a military and economic alliance between Egypt and Israel in 1979. Oslo curbed the First Intifada in 1993. The disengagement from Gaza was a step toward Palestinian independence, even if at the cost of Hamas’ rise. In each case, the ideal of “peace” fell victim to its abstract nature, instead moving toward a concrete, more humble, and feasible goal. Peace is too vague to attain.

When dignitaries allude to “peace in the Middle East,” they do so with an equivocal pseudo-idealism – a diplomatic irony of sorts. Any “necessity” for a peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an illusion. Reaching for peace is futile. The Middle East needs a stability process.

Stability begins with the agenda. A Palestinian government, Mahmoud Abbas wrote in his application for admission to the United Nations, would devote itself to continuing talks on “final status issues” once a state existed. In his purview, those constitute “Jerusalem, the Palestine refugees, settlements, borders, security and water.” But, through an Israeli lens, a comprehensive resolution will ride on negotiations that seek to rectify the Jewish state’s own distinct existential challenges, most of them demographic.

A “two-state solution” is achievable only where stability exists; stability will exist where the raging fires that are the above issues are quenched. If they continue to burn even after the allowance of Palestinian state, a two-state solution will not have been reached; rather, the region would take on a two-state existence with perpetual two-state troubles.

Suppose that the agenda for the stability process had room for only two issues. One must be a primarily Palestinian issue, one a primarily Israeli issue, and one that truly requires bilateral policy decisions. Those two issues – which, if resolved responsibly and with a necessary degree of compromise, could usher in the beginnings of regional stability in this era – are that of Palestinian national governance and Israel’s West Bank settlement policy.

There are those who call themselves “Palestinians” living in Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank – a disunited constituency. In the aforementioned document, however, Abbas refers to the Palestinian Liberation Authority (PLO) as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

For the last several days, the towns on Israel’s southwest side have fallen prey to an incessant rocket barrage by terrorists. On Sunday afternoon, two of the weapons fell in Be’er Sheva; one struck a school, and the other a car parked just outside of a home.

Hamas governs Gaza. A separate parliamentary coalition governs Israel. Under whose sphere of influence do those terrorists fall? Which leader, which government, is responsible for punishing those who commit such egregious acts, for deterring Palestinians from carrying out future attacks? Indeed, another state will come – stability will come – once all Palestinians know whom to call “Mr. President.”

By no means are settlements in the West Bank the sole roadblock to peace, but building and extending them only further agitates an ever-agitated people. House renovations in East Jerusalem needn’t end, but the Israeli government’s slews of new housing projects continue to edge more and more deeply into the West Bank and, thus, into the collective Palestinian psyche.

There is a legal statute in many American cities that states that if two neighbors have lived by certain property lines for a number of years, those lines become the lawful boundaries – even if they weren’t originally articulated as such by city plans. If Palestine is to be, effectively, the West Bank, then, before the state is established, Israel must act as though those lines already exist, and, accordingly, stop preemptively infringing upon national sovereignty. As of now, Israel has the right to establish its own housing projects in the West Bank, but it also has the power to cease.

This conflict is rife with more perplexing contortions than is an Escher painting, more hidden crevices than the canyons of Yosemite. I would never claim that this is the one and only way to solve this. That would reflect an arrogance that could have unsafe repercussions in this debate. For those reasons, I don’t call this a plan for peace; it is merely a few steps that might lead to more stability in a world in which “there is no peace.” Bubbe and Grandpa were right: Where we are Uncle Mark, a stable region is Chapter 3.

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About Ami Fields-Meyer

Ami Fields-Meyer is an undergraduate at Emory University. He has written more than 140 articles for Truth Be Told Politics. His pieces on both politics and religion have also appeared in the Huffington Post, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Sh'ma, the Emory Wheel, and the Milken Roar. Ami likes to listen to the Dave Matthews Band, can quote Anchorman start to finish, and relishes a good bowl of hummus.
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One Response to But There is No Peace – Why the Mideast “Peace Process” Needs to End

  1. Michael V. Caldwell says:

    “CHILDREN SEEKING WORLD PEACE” (Short Film Script)

    Opening Scene;

    We see the Outside of the United Nations Building next we see a man dressed in a suite carrying a brief case walking into the building he approaches the Desk of the Chairman of the United Nations, pulls out a very large manila envelope and hands it to the Chairman. The Chairman opens the envelope, reads the paper work and scratches his head, looks up at the Special Carrier with a bewildered look on his face and says; Wow this is an Extremely Unusual Request and it comes from very unusual sources this is a First for me.

    Carrier

    What do you mean unusual request, who sent the letter ?

    Chairman

    Did you notice the Post Marks on this letter ?

    Carrier

    Yes I did, and it also has so many different kinds of stamps on it from around the World.
    I have never seen so many Stamps on one envelope in my life, so who is it from and what are they want ?

    Chairman

    It appears that they are following up on an idea that originated from a Film Script Writer in America who came up with an Idea of writing a short Film Script he Calls “Children Seeking World Peace” The writer posted it on line and some of the Country Leaders around the World liked the idea so that they implemented it.

    Carrier

    Implement what ?

    Chairman

    Every Country in the World picked two Young Students from one of their schools a boy and a girl to represent their Country and are asking for a “SPECIAL UNITED NATION’S MEETING” that will be attended by all of the Leaders in the World but this is the Catch.

    The adults are not to speak at this meeting, only the Children will be allowed to speak at this Special meeting called “CHILDREN SEEKING WORLD PEACE”

    Carrier

    Wow, I see what you mean when you said an unusual request and that is comes from an unusual source you were right about that.

    Chairman

    There’s more this request gets even more stranger they are requesting that we install a large garden area next to the United Nation Building before this meeting takes place that we don’t plant anything in the garden area just leave it bare dirt, there are to be small signs placed every two feet next to the rows in this garden area with the names of each Country in the World next to each one of these signs there will also be a watering can containing water.

    Carrier

    Do you think that the Board will consider this bizarr & unusual request ?

    Chairman

    Yes I do after all these are the Children of the World, the next Generation seeking the opportunity for them to be part of the Peace Process from their Generation and we should give them the opportunity to do so.

    Scene Two;

    We see the inside of the United Nations building where many young children are standing paired off one boy and one girl facing all of the Adult Leaders from around the World these Children are from all walks of life all different nationalities and all dressed differently.

    Every Girl is holding a small pot containing a different flower in it in one hand and a small shovel in their other hand.

    Each Boy is holding a small pot containing a different kind of plant in one hand and a small shovel in his other hand.

    (all of these flowers and plants are beautiful and very colorful)

    Every Boy & Girl from their Country are wearing Name tags with their Countries names on the tags. The Children are just standing there in silence.

    The inside of this building is silent at first then we hear whispers coming from the Adult Leaders, what is this all about, what do they want, this is strange.

    Next we see a girl step forward from the row of children following behind her is another girl and a boy they are all three standing there for a minute and the room gets silent.

    Then the boy speaks,

    I have been chosen to speak on behalf of all of the Children in this room. We are standing here before all of you representing the Worlds Next Generation, Your Worlds Next Generation. We only have a few words to say to all of you here today.

    All of us had several things that we wanted to say to all of you today but we all decided that words are not enough without all of Our WORLD LEADERS making a Solid Commitment to end all Wars in Our World Today ! ! !

    So, we only have three words to say to all of you here today… ” PLEASE JUST STOP”

    (one of the girls standing next to this young boy translates this message in all languages)

    The three young children stand there for a minute in silence then one of the two girls step forward she says, we only have one more request to ask from all of you in this building today, please follow us to the garden area located just outside this building.

    (the other girl translates this request in all languages)

    The other children in the building follow the three children exiting the building followed by the Adults.

    Third Scene;

    We see all of the children lined up still holding their flowers and plants in one hand and their shovels in their other hand they are paired off one boy and one girl standing along side of the garden rows facing their Countries signs that are placed in two foot sections of their Special Garden.

    (we see all of the Adult Leaders standing around this garden in groups whispering to each other we can’t make out what they are saying to each other but they have a confused look on their faces)

    Next the same Girl that spoke earlier in the building is holding a flower in one hand and a small shovel in her other hand says, I would like all of the Adult Leaders from their Countries to stand in front of their Countries signs facing each of us. (translated by the girl standing next to this girl)

    The Adult Leaders line up in front of their Countries garden signs facing these children then every child bends down at the same time and digs a small hole in the ground in their two foot section of this Special Garden. (each two foot garden section now has two small holes dug in them and everyone is silent)

    Next we see the same girl that spoke earlier stand up after digging her hole in the garden she hands her Adult Counter Part Leader her Potted Flower and says, each one of these Flowers that all of us has brought here today Represent WORLD PEACE for Our Future.

    she continues..

    All of the Children Around the World requested this SPECIAL UNITED NATIONS MEETING to beg all of the Leaders of Our world to help us Plant our Flowers here today to end all Wars in our World Immediately and all of the Plants that the Boys brought here today represent Commitment To Do So.
    (translated again by the girl standing next to her)

    Next we see the Boy that spoke earlier at the meeting hand his Adult Counter Part his potted plant then the Girl that is speaking looks over at all of the other Children that are still standing next to their garden and she nodes her head.

    Then, All of the Children say the words together, in their own languages in a loud & begging tone. “PLEASE JUST STOP”

    Next, We see all of the Children reach in their pockets, pull out a small bag and pour out a few of seeds into each of their Adult Counter Parts hands.

    The Girl speaker then says,

    we are giving all of you our seeds to take home with you so you can plant them in your gardens as a reminder of your Commitment all of you made here today to; END ALL WARS In Our World IMMEDIATELY..THESE SEEDS ALSO REPRESENT FORGIVENESS for without forgiveness there can be no PEACE, so please pass these seeds on to your transgressor so the Peace Process can begin. (translated by the girl standing next to her)

    Last Scene

    We see all of the Adult Leaders bent down next to the Children planting the Children’s Flowers & Plants together in their “Special World Peace Garden” Located in Front Of the “UNITED NATIONS BUILDING”

    Fade Out..

    “DREAM BIG DO BIG”

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