Fake peace versus real peace
Woe unto them that call evil good
And good evil;
Who present darkness as light
And light as darkness;
Who present bitter as sweet
And sweet as bitter!
I thought of this verse from the Biblical prophet Isaiah when I read about the speeches of #45 (the 45th president of the US, whose name I prefer not to use) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Instead of dealing with the raging economic and health crises in their countries during the weeks before Rosh Hashanah, they were both very busy trying to convince the world – through their spin tactics in the media – that they were engaged in making “peace” between the State of Israel and the small country in the Gulf region known as the United Arab Emirates, and the even smaller island nation of Bahrain.
But nothing could be farther from the truth. This was a “fake peace.” They knew it very well, but nevertheless they chose to try to deceive their citizens – which is their regular practice – even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. I, for one, was not tricked by their spin, nor was I am impressed by their cliches.
Why is this a “fake peace” and not a real one? In contrast, what is a real peace about?
First of all: this is a fake peace because there was no war or conflict between Israel and these countries. You can’t make peace with a country you are not at war with.
Secondly, this was not peace with the UAE, but a “normalization of relations” between these two countries, and just an announcement of something to come with Bahrain. Normalization of relations is certainly a good thing, but it is not an end to a conflict. In the case of the UAE, there has already been business relations with companies in Israel for a long time.
Third, this is more of a “deal” (the American president’s favorite word) whereby some companies in the US, especially within the military-industrial complex, are going to make a lot of money by selling aircraft and other military hardware to the UAE. In some comments, the US president even admitted that it is about money.
Lastly, the timing of this deal was extremely transparent. It was clearly related to the elections in the US in fewer than two months, and to potential elections in Israel’s unstable and insane political environment. Don’t forget that the prime minister in Israel wasted most of the month of August in an internal political crisis, in which he and his cronies threatened us with elections every day.
What then are some examples of serious negotiations for real peace?
• Real peace was concluded when Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat negotiated and signed the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in March 1979, a peace accord signed by two countries which had fought four wars with each other!
• Real peace was accomplished with the negotiations between Israel and the leadership of the Palestinian people in 1993 that led to the Oslo Accords, which gave us some hope in the region for a few years that there could actually be a resolution of the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
• Real peace was achieved once again when Israel signed a peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in October 1994, a peace accord that ended the armed conflict with Israel’s Arab neighbor to the east that had existed since 1948.
These are all examples of genuine efforts to reach peace agreements with countries or political entities which had previously been at war with one another.
In recent decades, the Israeli-Arab conflict has morphed into the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This is the conflict that must be resolved if we are to have peace with our neighbors. Ignoring it by diversionary tactics like the recent reality show on the balcony of the White House in an election year – in the midst of a pandemic – is like burying one’s head in the sand. It is simply another attempt to fool the media and the people.
Nevertheless, this is the policy of the American and Israeli governments at this time. Despite the brief mention of their desire to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the agreement between Israel and the UAE, everyone knows that this is totally lip service and that these current “leaders” have absolutely no intention of doing this. Instead, they have purposefully alienated and isolated the Palestinians, which reflects their real intentions, which are to continue the policies of creeping annexation and occupation rather than resolving the conflict with the Palestinians What we need is not grandiose shows and speeches in Washington DC, but honest politicians and diplomats who want to achieve real peace between peoples in conflict, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. The writer is a retired lecturer, educator and inter-religious peace activist. His most recent book is ‘The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem’ (Hamilton Books, 2017). He is currently working on a new book about peace builders in Israel and Palestine. For more about him, see his website https://ronkronish.com