As promised, I have collected some suggestions for ways to actually help Israel and the Palestinians. The numbers on the following list of projects are mostly just to identify the items, not to indicate priorities. None of the projects require commitment to any particular type of X-state solution. And all of them should be worked on prior to committing to parameters for “final status issues”. I hope the references provided can motivate and encourage.
1) The international community should support the legitimate parties to create and execute realistic plans to integrate minorities within their countries or autonomous areas – here and now. Evictions should be avoided unless e.g. an Israeli settlement or an EU-sponsored Bedouin settlement in the West Bank’s “area C” – causes real problems, not imagined disasters. Minority members who leave should be able to get support for (re-)integrating in the country or area where they would belong to a majority – the follow-up of the eviction of Jews from Gaza in 2005 is nothing to be emulated.
2) The international community could pressure Israel to either drop Arabic as a national language – or truly embrace it. I think the latter is a better idea. As President Rivlin said recently: “The Hebrew language must be learned to perfection by the Arab population, but the time has come for the Arabic language to be learned by the Jewish population. Language leads from the ear to the heart.” Likud MK Oren Hazan is leading the way. Cheer him on!
3) Some members of the international community should commit do doing something about incitement – the brainwashing of Palestinians to hate Israel and Jews viciously and support violence against them. A few truly Non-Governmental Organizations are monitoring intensively – most notably Palestinian Media Watch, MEMRI, Israel Resource News Agency and Center for Near East Policy Research, who all stand out with their stunning films and translations. There are a handful of independent film-producers who also creating outstanding, moving documentation – most notably Pierre Rehov.
Surely there must be a way to increase their resources while sustaining their independence from governments. Do some serious fund-raising!
As to governmental bodies, at least some of them should make it a point to study what these independents are uncovering and to start effectively demanding changes e.g. in the TV-programming of the Palestinian National Authority or in how students in UNRWA schools are taught, which is appalling, despite some improvements in text books.
4) The international community should pressure the Jordanians and Palestinians to give Jews the same free access as Muslims have to the Temple Mount and to other places holy to Jews. To succeed with this project, there should be support, or perhaps even pressure, to get the Israeli government to develop a clear policy along these lines.
The “status quo” is an outrageous insult to Jews and reinforces the narrative that the Judaism doesn’t really value holy places. It also reinforces the experience of Jews grovelling in appeasement to “keep peace” – very very bad for everybody – and already leading to more and more aggression against perceived weakness.
5) Cultural institutions within the international community should try to ensure preservation of archaeological evidence of the various peoples’ presence in the Levant. The concerned should be aware that it is mostly the evidence of Jewish presence in the Holy Land that is being destroyed – while Israel is constantly and mendaciously being accused of destroying other peoples’ evidence. The concerned should also be aware that the Jewish people are, indeed a people with legitimate national aspirations. For inspiration, try learning about the City of David – maybe even take a couple of days to explore it.
6) The international community should encourage Israel to repair the neglect of “East Jerusalem”. I don’t think this can wait until broad agreements on jurisdiction are reached; I believe that specific projects can be defined with clear responsibilities. And some members of the international community could contribute materially, artistically, and spiritually.
7) The international community should pressure and help Israel and the Palestinians – along with members of the Arab League – to get closure on the two refugee flows of the 1940s (750.000 Arabs from the Holy Land, 850.000 Jews from Muslim countries, depending on your sources). Recognition of each other’s tragedies and cultural traditions for demanding and giving restitution is an important part. Working out monetary compensation will, in some cases, be necessary.
Above all the institutions now serving the few remaining Arab refugees and their almost five million descendants need re-working. At the very least, head-counts based on accurate definitions must be produced – and the focus should be on resettlement rather than on perpetuating the concept of the “refugee camp” long after tents have been replaced by potentially thriving urban neighborhoods. Rooting out violence-promoting extremists among UNRWA staff should be made a priority.
Working with these seven projects could – and should – keep most of the oh-so-concerned people busy, growing, and joyous for at least ten years. However, I guess some will still explod with impatience if they don’t get to have a say about about the political-military conflict-resolution parameters. So I will oblige them next time.