The word occupation is one that means many different things to different people. To some, it’s exactly that, an occupation, a blatant and aggressive form of colonialism and a theft of land. To others, it’s not an occupation at all; it’s a rightful return to a homeland after many millennia. And to yet others, it is merely a means to an end — security. Regardless of how you view the occupation or “occupation” there are important conversations that need to be had.
Last week, a group of a few hundred Israeli intellectuals, including scholars, writers, artists and high-ranking military officers came out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The anti-occupation movement has been gaining traction in recent years but within Israeli society seems to have hit a ceiling. That ceiling exists for the simple reason that most Israelis are terrified of the implications and can’t visualize the process that could bring a peaceful end to the occupation. And, until those who wish to end the occupation can explain in a pragmatic manner the process itself, that ceiling will never be broken.
The majority of the citizens of planet earth can be against the occupation but until the majority of Israelis agree to a change it will not take place.
Proponents of ending the occupation see it as the best and most just path towards ensuring lasting peace, freedom, and sovereignty for both nations. Sadly this is not enough to overcome the fears and concerns of the majority of the Israeli people.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Israelis who support the continued occupation don’t support it for religious, ideological reasons but merely as a means of security. A buffer zone of sorts between Israel mainland and “those who wish to destroy” them. The trauma and fear of the Jewish people is deep rooted and justified. From multiple holocausts to expulsions from their homes all over the world to millennia of persecution and prejudices. This deep rooted fear is an aspect of Israeli society that is not understood from the outside but understanding this is a crucial step towards finding real and practical solutions to this conflict.
In order to end the occupation a set of challenging and important questions need be answered.
What does it mean to end the occupation?
Does ending the occupation involve a recognition of Israel’s right to exist?
Does it ensure the safety of the Israeli people? (which was not the result of ending the occupation in Gaza)
What does ending the occupation mean for the nearly 400,000 settlers currently living in the West Bank?
Do we uproot them from their homes?
If so, are we prepared for the potential implications?
If we decide that the settlers get to stay, who will ensure their safety?
These are just some of the questions that need to be answered in order to get the majority of Israeli society behind this plan.
Seeing the end goal is crucial but it is not enough to get there. Many great ideas fail in their execution and if a clear and pragmatic plan is not developed, any plan to end the occupation will surely fail too.
I do believe that we can solve this conflict without uprooting people from their homes, one which will ensure security, sovereignty and peace for both nations.
My friends in Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world, if you are against the occupation, have a different plan for peace or a solution to these issues, I would like your input. Please let me know the solutions you have to the concerns above. You can write them in the comments below or send me an email. The hope is to inspire constructive dialogue and to build a unified vision, a collective effort of millions of minds. I look forward to hearing from you.
Peace is more than just a dream; it is a potential reality and once we unify around a path towards that dream, the dream will become a reality.