Encountering Peace: Palestine is inevitable

The battle to prevent Palestinian statehood has been lost, and Israel had better come to terms with this emerging reality.

311_fayyad picks olives and flags (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
311_fayyad picks olives and flags
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Palestine is becoming a reality, whether we like it or not. The Palestinian Authority may not be increasing its sovereignty over a single centimeter of land, but the awareness of the emergence of the State of Palestine is spreading all over the world. The government of Israel might believe it has a veto over this process; it may believe it can prevent Palestine from becoming more than a “virtual” state, but it cannot.
The battle to prevent Palestinian statehood has been lost, and Israel had better come to terms with this emerging reality.
Yet rather than face this straight on and understand how its interests would be served by a free, independent, democratic and peaceful Palestine, this country is instead tightening its grip.
Our forces are arresting more peaceful activists and popular leaders, preventing protests against land confiscation, while inciting against Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority. The face of the occupation is becoming more visible and more ugly.
Palestinians, joined by internationals and a growing number of Israelis, are facing off with this ugly face every week all around the West Bank, from Naalin to Bil’in, from al-Masara to Nebi Salah, from Walaja to Oush al-Ghrab, from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan.
In all these places, the scene is the same, week after week; a protest is staged to decry a land grab to expand some settlement, a wall or a fence by public popular committees of locals; they are joined by other Palestinians, Israelis and international solidarity supporters who march to the point of confrontation. Sometimes some of the young Palestinians will throw some stones; at other times, with no provocation, the tear gas, rubber or plastic-covered bullets, concussion grenades and “the skunk” (stinky liquid) come down. Lately it’s enough just to be there when the soldiers are riled up.
That’s what happened last week in Silwan and in Nebi Salah. When there are no television cameras around, the soldiers tend to take greater liberties, but today everyone has a camera in his or her pocket, and there are no more secrets.
When I witness this wanton violence my blood boils and I am filled with shame. These surely cannot be the Israeli defense forces; just what are they defending, and in whose name? The farmers of Bil’in whose land was taken for the expansion of Modi’in Illit are not protesting in order to destroy Israel; they just want their land and olive trees back, and even the Supreme Court supports them. But our government acts with blind disregard for the law, and without the slightest sense of wisdom.
WHEN IDF soldiers fire tear gas canisters in Nebi Salah even before even a single stone is thrown, I say we have lost ourselves, and can no longer claim to hold the moral high ground. And no one should tell me the horrific, inhuman murder of the Fogel family has any bearing; I’m tired of the competition of suffering. I don’t want anyone to suffer, and believe that if we were wise, and if we act in our real interests and if we have the eyes in our heads to see how the world is changing around us, we would notify the Palestinian people that we, the Jewish people, want to sponsor the UN resolution for Palestinian statehood. We would shout from every hilltop that we want the Palestinian people to be free in their land so that we, the Jewish people, can be free in our land. And we would sit with their leaders, pull out our maps, and plan our withdrawal from the emerging state together.
I call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the paranoids and xenophobes who occupy the coalition seats in the Knesset, I appeal to the NGO monitors: Come to your senses! It is not too late to change course and turn enemies into allies. We have all paid a tremendous price, and everyone has lost. Compassion, understanding, a desire to work together so we can all live peacefully – this is how we can rescue ourselves from the growing hatred around the world toward Israel.
If we do the right thing, the whole world will not be against us. Let’s stop being so shallow as to actually think we can win battles with new hasbara, while attacking Jewish groups in America that don’t agree with the Israeli policies.
Our friends in Europe are about to join the rest of the world in recognizing Palestine. An American veto in the Security Council, and even a letter signed by 96 senators and 400 members of the House of Representatives will not prevent the state of Palestine from being born. We can try to oppose this process for a few more years, maybe, but we will not be able to block it.
If we ever hope to coexist with the state of Palestine, Israelis must join hands with Palestinians and nonviolently co-resist the occupation (special credit to my daughter Elisha and her partner Noam Lekach for the term). Our liberation and their liberation will be won together.

The writer is co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (www.ipcri.org) and is now in the process of founding the Center for Israeli Progress (http://israeli-progress.org/).