Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Stuck in the wilderness

For years, everyone has been asking: “Where did peace go?”

Well, I think I have been able to locate that elusive creature – but he is not in the best of shape. At this very moment, Shalom/Salaam is stuck at the border, insisting that he is not carrying a bomb.

“Are you carrying a weapon?” a string of Israeli officers ask him.

“Bro, I come in peace,” replies Peace, with his long, centre-parted hippy hair and Jesus creepers.

“But can you guarantee that you will stay in peace?”

“Just sign a peace deal and you will see the difference.”

“But can you guarantee that the Qassam rockets will stop? If we pull out of the West Bank, might the Palestinians not want more and use violence to try to get it. Israel is such a small country – at some points it is less than 10km wide. It is vulnerable to these rocket attacks.”

“Of course, Israel has the right to live in peace,” Shalom/Salaam maintains. “But even Hamas, because its charter does not recognise Israel’s right to exist, has indicated that it would accept a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 border. Besides, the Arabs have offered you a comprehensive peace deal and Syria wants to negotiate. What are you waiting for?”

“But it is impossible for us to evacuate the 400,000 people living in the biggest West Bank settlements. The political price inside Israel would be too high.”

“Why didn’t you think of that before you built them on occupied land.”

“At first, we wanted to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the Arabs. But, in Khartoum, in 1967, the Arabs issued their famous three ‘No’s. After that, the extremists hijacked the settlement process and built thousands of homes on the seized land.”

“But Peace comes at a price, you know,” Salaam/Shalom says, hiding, behind a melancholic smile, his feeling of being undervalued and unappreciated all these years he’s been living in exile, out in the cold. “I’m not cheap you know.”

“We can give them an equivalent amount of land in the Negev or southern Israel.”

“So, you want to give them desert in return for fertile land?”

“Water is not an issue. We can supply them with water to meet all their needs.”

Many Israelis, even my open-minded hosts, seem to be under the conviction, to varying degrees, that there is no clear end in sight, that whatever Israel does will not be enough, that as soon as Israel pulls out of the West Bank, rockets will rain down on its head every day.

©Khaled Diab


rina said...

Never before did I look forward so much to reading a fresh blog posting every day. More, please!!!

deb said...

Earlier Salaam/shalom tried his luck at a neighborhood block party.

“What are you doing here, this is only for neighbors!”

“But I live next door, can’t we all just get along?” replies the beleaguered Salaam/Shalom.

“How can you live next door? This is our neighborhood, we don’t even recognize you.”

In exasperation, Salaam/Shalom enjoins “Don’t you remember me, cousin? You pushed me to the sea, hoping I would jump in. So meanwhile I learned to surf and built a sweet beachfront condo with a fabulous garden. Anyway, you sold me the property.”

“That may be so, but you condo was illegally built on our ancient burial site so you will have to move it. We also expect you to excavate the site after you remove your things. Once you are vacated, you will certainly not be our neighbor, so please leave the party.”

“But I have grown comfortable in my house. Where will I go?”

“Hopefully, you also learned to swim.”

sam said...

hey Khaled

I finaly got around to reading your blog. i am realy enjoying it. it seems you are getting a good view of israel. sounds like you found a nice family that is willing to show you both sides of the conflict. its nice to read that your observations are fair. one thing i would add though is that sometimes after someone claiming to be salam/shalom gets past the interviews and crosses the boarder, he blows himslef up in a cafe. It is not easy to tell who is realy Salaam/Shalom and who is trying to exploit it.

if you have time to meet give me a call.


IsrealiMom said...

Well, if there's one thing we agreed on (and there were quite a few things, I think ;)), it is that the rockets and terror acts work against the Palestinian interest. I look forward to seeing the dialogue between Sallam/Shalom and the Palestinian side. I do believe they have quite a few questions to answer to as well...
"If you do indeed want an independent state and a stable peace, why don't you stop shooting qassam rockets? why support the launching of rockets and of terror attacks, even if these are only carried out by extremists? Why not call out to your leaders to extinguish the extremists and deter them from carrying on their actions? if you can't contain the violent parties, assuming they are only extremists, then can you really "apply for a state" at this stage?"

"During the time before the state of Israel was established, Ben Gurion took some very painful measures internally, disarming the extremist Lehi and Etzel. It was painful, it almost brought about our own mini civil-war, but it was done. And it had to be done in order for an established sovereign state to take shape and form. What's more, it was done prior to the British leaving, in part. Palestinians need to do something similar now, to show the world that they can indeed maintain a sovereign state. It's going to hurt too, but it's one of the prices not only of Sallam, but of becoming a sovereign state."

There, dearest, is my message for Sallam to tell the Palestinians at their own checkpoints in Ramallah. Like I told you yesterday morning, over that delicious omelette... I do believe it's in the interest of peace seekers on both sides, and specifically the Palestnians (them being on the side most in need of a state and of peace), to make the Israelis feel safe and unthreatened. Only there can peace be achieved. Just like it's in the best interest of Israel to help the Palestinians all it can to reach the highest possible level of prosperity.
Peace be with you, my friend, and watch it there at the checkpoints and beyond too. Looking forward to seeing you back here sound and safe!

Khaled Diab said...

Rina, you make me blush!!

Deb, thanks for the alternative version. IM, the post I just uploaded should answer some of your questions. I'll be finding out more in the West Bank. I look forward to discussing it all with you and your family over breakfast, lunch and dinner when I get back.

Sam, glad you're enjoying the blog. I'll be back in your neck of the woods on Sunday. We can meet then.

deb said...

Hey Khaled!! My version is more an addition than an alternative. Peace gets hit from all sides.

Looking forward to hearing about his status in Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone negotiate peace with a party who doesn't recognize their right to exist? That very notion - non-recognition - conveniently sets a precedent for annihilation. Without recognition there is not negotiation. After all, how can you negotiate if you're a non-entity? The idea is preposterous.