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Again and again, private organizations appear on the scene promoting agendas designed to advance peace in the Middle East. In many cases, their intentions may be good; unfortunately, however, they generally lack a minimal understanding of the situation, and their programs and proposals are based on mistaken assumptions. As a result, their contribution to an easing of the prevailing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is of little or no value.
Take, for instance, OneVoice, which had planned to hold simultaneous "happenings" on October 18 in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park and in a football stadium in Jericho. The gatherings had been intended to encourage the leaders of both sides - Israel and the Palestinian Arabs - to isolate the extremists in their respective camps and take the steps necessary to implement a two-state solution.
As the Post reported this week, the concert in Jericho was called off after participants were threatened. "For security reasons we cannot have the concert at this time," said Nisreen Shahin, executive director of OneVoice Palestine. A day later, the Post further reported that the Tel Aviv event had been cancelled in solidarity with the situation on the Palestinian side.
But even had the "happenings" actually happened, they would have been an exercise in futility.
A CLOSER look at the agenda of the OneVoice group reveals that it's fundamentally misguided. In its overarching desire to adopt a "balanced" approach to the conflict, the movement's program devolves into unacceptable moral equivalence.
OneVoice calls for "an immediate cessation of all violence, from both sides, in all forms."
Can any honest observer of the Middle East scene equate the carefully nuanced military strikes carried out by Israel's security forces with the wanton violence against innocent civilians perpetrated by the terrorists on the other side?
OneVoice demands action "against incitement on both sides."
We are all painfully aware of what is written in Palestinian Authority schoolbooks, broadcast on the PA's official TV programs and preached in area mosques inculcating hatred of Israel and Jews. No parallel incitement against Arabs is practiced in Israel.
OneVoice stresses "the importance of ending terror and occupation."
In other words, "terror" and "occupation" are synonymous and need to end simultaneously. This equivalence lends a legitimacy to terrorism even as the use here of the term "occupation" flies in the face of the historical and legal facts.
The 1967 Six Day War, as a result of which the territories in question came under Israeli control, was a war of self-defense.
Until then, the West Bank and Gaza had been occupied illegally by Egypt and Jordan, having been earmarked for Jewish settlement by the League of Nations Mandate of 1920, as reconfirmed later by the United Nations (Article 80 of the UN Charter).
FACTUALLY, therefore, these are territories in dispute, whose ultimate fate will have to be decided in future peace talks. This was the underlying assumption of UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted after the Six Day War, which called for an Israeli withdrawal from "territories" (note: not "the territories") occupied during the war to "secure and recognized borders."
Resolution 338, adopted by the Security Council in 1973, called for negotiations between the parties to achieve the aims outlined in 242.
If all the territories taken over by Israel in 1967 were to be considered under occupation, and thus had to be returned to their "legal" owners, what would be the point of negotiating "secure and recognized borders," as mandated by Resolutions 242 and 338?
Moreover, for many Arabs and their supporters, there really is no difference between Israel before and after the Six Day War: All of Israel is illegally occupied territory. The Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964 already - that is, three years before the war - set as its goal the "liberation" of Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa and all of what was once known as Palestine.
And now, OneVoice offers us the questionable equation: occupation=terror.
Can one be expected to relate to this as a serious basis for a meaningful peace effort?
IN POINT of fact, any effort to promote a meaningful breakthrough in the conflict is to be welcomed. But if the assumptions on which such an effort are based are entirely false, and the existential and historical truths are distorted, what good can come of it?
There are many issues on which, in genuine peace negotiations, Israel would be able and ready to compromise - as must happen in any negotiation. But Israel has no right to compromise on its past, or to ignore flagrant distortions of the Jewish people's history and heritage.
So long as the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is based - as far as the Arabs are concerned - on a denial of the ancient Jewish connection to this land, there is no chance to achieve peace.
The Bible teaches, "Love truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:19). There is a direct connection between the two.
As they contemplate their cancelled "happenings," OneVoice leaders might also want to ponder the lesson that a solid understanding of history - contemporary and ancient - is an indispensable condition to peace-making in the Holy Land.
The writer is an international film producer whose films include The Garden of the Finzi Contini, Central Station and One Day in September.