Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel: Change Your Vision for Long-Term Peace

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel: Change Your Vision for Long-Term Peace

Article excerpt

How do Israelis see their relationship with their neighbors, the Palestinians, half a century from now? This is a question that President Bush and his advisers need to start asking seriously, in private and in public.

The tangled relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians is at a turning point. The road map for peace crafted by Washington and three major allies seems to be leading nowhere. Israel has continued its construction of new housing for settlers in the West Bank, its tight clampdown on Palestinian society, and its extrajudicial killings of Palestinian activists. These actions are all infractions of the road map. And they make it very hard for the well- intentioned but politically weak Palestinian Authority prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, to continue doing what he needs to do under the road map.

There are two other Israeli policies of great concern. Israel is building a vast barrier snaking deep into the occupied West Bank. The barrier effectively attaches large portions of West Bank land to Israel while it encircles Palestinian communities and cuts offthousands of Palestinian farmers from their land.

Israel is also hanging onto thousands of Palestinian hostages - men who have been detained without trial, sometimes for many months.

Is this a way to build long-term peace?

I write from France, a country that was invaded and occupied by Germany twice during the 20th century. In the process of dealing with those two catastrophes, the French and their allies learned a lot about how to build long-term peace between former enemies.

In 1918, after France and its allies (including the US) brought about the country's first liberation from German occupation, they adopted policies that imposed harsh, long-term punishments on Germany and its people. Those policies helped incubate Adolf Hitler.

In 1945, after the Allies were successful in their second attempt to liberate France and the other German-occupied lands, they adopted a much smarter policy toward Germany.

By the time the Allies reached Berlin, Hitler and some top lieutenants had killed themselves. The Allies put 22 suspected top Nazis on public trial. (Some were found not guilty. Some were hanged, and others imprisoned.)

But then, at the insistence of President Harry S. Truman and his advisers, a determined effort was made to rehabilitate the rest of German society and to tie an increasingly vigorous, de-Nazified Germany back into a web of good relations with its Western neighbors.

That policy proved notably successful. France and Germany, which had warred against each other dozens of times over preceding centuries, finally found a way to build constructive, lasting ties. The two countries are now at the heart of the movement toward European political union.

The French themselves put a lot of effort into building these ties. …

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