The answer depends upon the question. The question determines the answer. Will the options for the answer be Yes or No, or will be it multiple choice, or will it test knowledge and analysis as a short paragraph. These are some of the options that face teachers and educators at all levels when formulating quizzes, tests and exams. These are also the options and dilemmas that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will face if and when the peace process is posed as a referendum. It would be daring yet prudent to suggest that he pose the referendum to the entire Jewish Nation; because the State of Israel is the home of the entire Jewish Nation. It would be daring yet prudent to suggest that he pose the referendum to all the Palestinians, not just their leaders, for if they don’t agree to peace then the peace treaty has no effectiveness nor validity. The creation of the State of Israel and the peace process is all about ensuing that Israel is recognized as the home of the entire Jewish Nation, that it retains this identity and that it will continue to exist and to flourish.
As an educator I feel gratified when all my students pass their exams; it shows my ability not only to convey information and knowledge but also my ability to encourage my students to learn, to study, and to be motivated. However I don’t teach medicine nor am I a flying instructor. If I were, then I would feel compelled to insist that my all students obtain nothing less than 100% on all their exams. Who would want to see a medical Doctor or who would want to fly when these know less than 100%? Perhaps the 20% the pilot doesn’t know is how to land or the 10% the doctor doesn’t know is cancer. The same for the peace process. If Netanyahu cannot convince 100% of the Jewish nation and the Palestinians that the treaty will bring forth 100% peace; then it will be one step forward and two steps back. Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem will be the border with Palestine; back to the future – back to 1948 in the future of 2014, with snipers shooting into the windows of the heart of Israeli homes. Unilateral withdrawal from Gaza did not bring about peace even if it created an autonomous Palestinian enclave.
Netanyahu needs to engage in strategic communication with the citizens of Israel, with the entire Jewish nation and with the Palestinians. If the Palestinians, not just their leaders, are convinced that this is the first, last and only treaty and that they are getting their state then peace is on the right track. If the Palestinians, not just their leaders, believe that this is just the stepping stone to removing all Jews from Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and everything in between then the treaty is toilet-paper. If the Palestinians, not just their leaders are 100% motivated for 100% peace then the referendum will be a foregone conclusion. The Citizens of Israel and the Jewish nation will show their willingness to comprise territory for peace, stability and prosperity. If the Palestinians, not just their leaders are not 100% motivated and if they seek less than 100% peace then the Citizens of Israel and the Jewish nation will show their apprehension in their answers to the referendum.
No-one wants a referendum result of a small majority, either for or against the proposed peace arrangements. So Netanyahu must engage in a process of education, using strategic communication. He must educate the Palestinians, the Citizens of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish nation. The lesson is that the status quo cannot continue, that instability and lack of agreement will result in chaos and anarchy, that militarism, terrorism and war is not an acceptable way to live life, that Israel will always exist and that it will always be the home of the entire Jewish nation; and that there will also be a sovereign Palestine.
The question the Referendum should pose to Citizens of the State of Israel, to the entire Jewish nation and to all Palestinians must be “Have you read and understood the Peace Treaty and do you accept and believe that this will achieve its intentions and objectives by all those mentioned therein including you.” If the answer is not Yes by 100% then it is clear that there are those who will not adhere to the path of peace. Those who answer No will persist in ways of violence. Ultimately then the referendum results will emphasize the strength or the weakness of Netanyahu’s ability or lack thereof in educating skills, in negotiating skills, in motivating skills, in political acumen and in strategy and strategic communications. Vote Yes, but only if you are convinced that everyone else will also vote Yes; there is no value in voting Yes, if there are Palestinians and others who Vote No. Peace requires a 100% commitment by 100% of all of the population without regard to colour, creed, race or religion.
Dr Glen Segell, FRGS, is Researcher at The Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv, Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defense and Communication