Wednesday, April 8, 2020 -
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I’ll take no bloodshed

I haven’t completed reading President Trump’s new peace plan, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision To Improve The Lives of The Palestinian and The Israeli People.”

However, from the little I did read, it seems the overall purpose of the plan is not to reach any kind of agreement right now between Palestinians and Arabs. t is an effort to move the needle in this stalemate, to extend or redefine what is known as the “Overton Window” to reflect a more realistic conversation about what is and is not on “the table” in terms of Israeli and Palestinian realities.

With this proposal, “the rules of the game” have been changed. The spectrum of negotiation has now shifted.

Waiting for Israel somehow to magically disappear, to to violently be destroyed by

employing terrorism and chants of “from the river to the sea,” or be cowed by international economic pressures that will sabotage its economy — these fantasies are over, this new proposal suggests.

Another “game changer” is that by virtue of Arab diplomats of Arab Sunni lands, sitting in the same room as the Israeli Prime Minister and a document that, by definition, legitimizes Israel’s right to exist without discussing caveats of ‘48 or ‘67 boundaries, is nothing short of astonishing. Israel is Israel, be it de facto or by right, is what their participation amounts to; the rest is commentary.

This is a crucial departure from heretofore perceptions of Israel’s existence by the Arab world. To have cultivated this kind of consensus in supporting the Israeli narrative and historic tie to its land is most certainly worth noting.

That said, the absence of any Palestinian representative is also worth noting.

How an agreement meant to be between two parties, without representatives from each of those parties present, is indeed perplexing.

Granted, as time marches on, and Palestinians time and again reject every peace offer, they become more and more geopolitically irrelevant.

They undo themselves with their notorious pattern of shooting themselves in the foot.

This new plan is meant to be progress. It is meant to rekindle the conversation and negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. In my mind, it’s not meant to be the end goal or the solution, but a possible step in a new direction.

It’s contents suggest that it is somewhat of a counterpoint to the failure of 1993 Oslo approach, and end to Oslo’s “sacrifices of peace,” which, put crudely, was nothing more than an increased Israeli body count of innocent civilian lives shattered by Palestinian violence that increased in the wake of the Oslo “peace” plan.

That is why I cannot relate to the response of joy and exultation to Trump’s plan by the more right wing Israeli community.

Every twist, every turn in diplomatic proposals and negotiations, has only proven to be the pretext for Palestinians to increase their violence and terrorism. The risk of even trying to have the conversation or negotiation sometimes proves to be too painful a price, not to mention the actual Israeli concessions.

Personally, I’m shaking for what can possibly come.

Israel has already deployed additional military protection in various Israeli swaths of land that the new plan addresses.

To me, the singular fascinating detail in this new plan is the four-year grace period extended to the Palestinians.

This clause speaks to the psychological truth of the Palestinian mentality of rejecting every opportunity that comes their way. In the famous words of Abba Eban: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

The Peel Commission in 1937.

The 1947 UN Partition Plan.

The 97% offer from Prime Minister Barak in 2000, rejected by Yasir Arafat.

The 99% offer from Prime Minister Olmert brokered in 2008, rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.

And now, here is a pragmatic opportunity for a limited or partial sovereignty for the Palestinians, buttressed by staggering economic investment.

With all of its flaws from the Palestinian perspective, I would take it. And work to develop a successful enterprise, so it can eventually lead to a strong negotiating position, qualifying for or even demand full sovereignty.

But the Palestinians won’t do it. Not that Palestinians or Israelis are a monolithic group, but a pattern of a mentality emerged.

There is a famous midrash that illustrates the opposite of a Jewish mentality. Prior to the giving of the Torah to the Israelites, G-d first approached the nations of the world. Each nation rejected the Torah in its seed form of the Ten Commandments on different grounds. Each nation had a reason why the Torah was not a good negotiation, so to speak; why they were not “winning” in the offer given. Only the Israelites accepted the terms of the offer. And so it was. This is the genesis of the Jewish people — their acceptance of an offer that was deemed inferior by every other nation.

Yet again, it’s pretty clear that Trump’s proposal will be rejected. It is perceived by the Palestinians as bad for them. Which only raises the question, what would a good proposal look like? One where Israel regresses to its “Auschwitz borders” of 1967?

Look, it’s not simple. I certainly don’t have the answers or the solutions to this war of attrition that has unjustly gone hand in hand with the founding of modern day Israel. I believe in the autonomy and dignity of people. I believe in dignity for all human beings, with the clear caveat of human beings whose cause is not terrorism or violence.

Right now I just pray that the reaction that followed Oslo won’t be what transpires as a result of this new proposal. Peace can wait. I’ll take no bloodshed.

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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