Magazine article Tikkun

An Arab Plan That Jews Must Pursue

Magazine article Tikkun

An Arab Plan That Jews Must Pursue

Article excerpt

PEACE GROUPS OFTEN LACK A CLEAR, REALISTIC vision- something tangible to pin their hopes on. That can change now in Israel and Palestine. It is the right time, with Israel feeling less invincible after its failure in Lebanon. Many people realize that guns are not going to decide this conflict. And now there is actually something real and concrete to work with.

After the crisis in Lebanon, some Arab states have dusted off the Saudi peace plan of 2002. Upon its unveiling, the initiative was adopted unanimously by the Arab League, and has received endorsements from Iran and even Hezbollah after it was accepted by the Palestinians, including Hamas. Nevertheless, the plan was virtually ignored by Israel.

The Saudi proposal calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it captured in 1967, including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. It also calls for a "just resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem ... in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194," which, in 1948, recommended the unconditional return of refugees, the demilitarization of Jerusalem, and the placement of the city under UN administration. In exchange, the Saudi plan offers not only full peace with Israel, but also the establishment of "normal relations" between Israel and the entire Arab world. The term "normal relations" is not trivial.

When peace proposals are floated, Israeli and Diaspora Jews are often skeptical of what guarantee can be given to ensure that once Israel's "guard is down" she will not be attacked by neighboring Arab states. Obviously, Israel's enormous military superiority and strong alliance with the world's sole superpower is not sufficient insurance, and clearly not enough to end the conflict. The guarantee of "normal relations" is intended to accomplish this.

"Normal relations" means social and economic interdependence, which is a huge incentive to maintain peace. Simultaneously, it means building relationships between people through business dealings, cultural and academic exchanges, and the like. Under such circumstances, both sides thus have far too much to lose by initiating violence.

It is often stated, incorrectly, that democracies do not go to war with each other (Israel and Lebanon just disproved that once again). …

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