Thursday, May 19th | 19 Iyyar 5782

March 17, 2013 4:04 pm

Peace Later, Not Peace Now

avatar by Ronen Shoval

Shimon Peres. Photo: World Economic Forum.

A few days ago, in preparation for the arrival of US President Barack Obama, Army Radio held a discussion about the chances of reaching a two-state solution, as well as Obama’s passionate position on this issue.

“Solution proponents” can be divided into two groups.

The first group comprises those who believe that the morally right thing to do is to divide the land, since the Palestinian people deserves to have its own state. The second group includes those who are reluctant to give up any part of the Land of Israel, but are willing to pursue a solution that would bring about a physical separation from the Palestinian people in an effort to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.

The second group came up with ideas such as the disengagement (Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005). In other words, if in the past land for peace was an acceptable model, today people who supported the disengagement understand that we will never have peace with our neighbors.

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In lieu of land for peace, they now support the creation of a Palestinian state even without peace. In other words, land in exchange for a hug from CNN to be followed by missiles falling on Israeli land.

The sane majority in the State of Israel believes that Israel’s claims are fundamentally justified.

They also support the creation of a Palestinian state, but for a different reason: Zionism.

They are striving to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel, and are not under the mistaken illusion that the establishment of a Palestinian state would bring about peace. They fully understand that Islamic fundamentalism is the cause of problems in the Middle East, and not the “occupation.”

They have come to terms with the fact that a Palestinian state must be created, but are fully aware that its creation does not mean that the wolf and the lamb could ever live together happily ever after.

So what can be done to promote a true peace? To solve the conflict, we first need to understand the underlying issues. This is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian- Israeli conflict is merely one front of a much wider international struggle – the struggle between the West and fundamentalist Islam. Islamic theology assumes that the world is split into two groups: Dar al- Islam (the House of Islam – the area of the world under Islamic rule) and Dar al-Harb (the House of war – countries where Muslim law is not in force).

Whether we like it or not, Islam’s borders are bloody.

We are just one small front.

From Chechnya to Kosovo, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, there are rivers of blood. And we haven’t even touched upon the internal Shia-Sunni conflict, i.e. which branch of Islam will become the supreme world leader in the end.

We cannot let this depressing reality squelch our desire to achieve peace. We must not give up. Peace has been the dream of the Jewish people since the time of the Prophet Isaiah, and we will never stop yearning for it. We must not allow fundamentalist Islam to prevail.

Former US president George W. Bush tried to root out the problem, but erred on the type of solution he chose. Bush focused on the connection between freedom and peace. In his second-term inaugural address in 2005, he said, “As long as entire areas in the world are suffering from tyranny and are exposed to ideologies that encourage hatred and murder, violence will increase and its destructiveness will be doubled and will even break through the most protected borders and become a real threat. The only thing that will bring about an end to hatred and resentment is freedom.

“The sequence of events and common sense lead us to one conclusion: The survival of freedom in our country depends more and more on the success of freedom in other countries. Our best chance for peace lies in spreading freedom throughout the entire world. To that end, it will be US foreign policy to locate and support democratic movements in every country and in every culture, in an effort to bring an end to tyranny worldwide.”

Unfortunately, the translation of Bush’s brilliant speech into policy was a complete failure.

Instead of promoting democratic values, the US administration promoted democratic structure. In other words, instead of promoting human rights, and women’s and minorities’ rights, the Americans supported holding elections.

They failed to understand that it would have been preferable to have a dictator who allowed the promotion of liberal values (against his will and under US pressure), than to have a democratic structure that was indirectly responsible for bringing Islamic extremists to power.

If we are serious about promoting peace, we must do our best to help moderate Islamic groups get their voices heard. We must promote women’s and human rights organizations in the Arab Muslim world. We must help spread liberal values. We must rectify this sad reality in which women are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia.

And we must do so not just to improve the lives of millions of women living in the Islamic world, but since it is the only way to bring about true world peace. Only once it becomes part of the political culture of Islamic countries to treat women as human beings will there be the slightest chance that one day they might view the “Zionist enemy” as people who have the right to exist.

Shared values are the key to true peace. It is true that this is a distant goal that requires tremendous patience. We must give up the fanciful ideas espoused by “Peace Now,” which wouldn’t last a minute, and instead embrace a “Peace Later” approach that would last many years. This is only way to achieve a real peace in the Middle East.

Ronen Shoval is chairman and founder of the Im Tirtzu Zionist extra-parliamentary movement.
Translated by Hannah Hochner. This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

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