Larry Snider

Beyond the Chaos

There is a cost that has grown for years in a conflict that has taken so very many lives and changed so very many more that no Palestinian or Israeli is left unaffected. There is a cost in a Molotov cocktail in Duma and a stabbing in Jerusalem and in placing yet another brick in a settlement and in the demolition order for Susya. There are people on the right and the left and in between who have been victimized by a conflict that continues uninterrupted causing them to lose their vision and their belief in the reality of anything better.

Where is peace? It has been sacrificed on the fires of Duma and Tabgha. It has been lost behind a Wall that was built to separate two peoples who were at each others throats in a previous outburst of hatred and vengeance. It is torn asunder in a resistance that pelts soldiers with rocks until the next death and then the next. It has taken Israeli after Palestinian after Israeli after Palestinian for a lifetime and then another and now yet another until the blood overwhelms every reasonable person and requires them to become unreasonable. Where is peace? It has been sacrificed on the altar of violence.

There are still those largely pure of heart, (and maybe a bit naive), that seek peace and pursue it. Most are looking in from outside a Middle East that is on fire, lit over and over again by arsonists that are locked in an unholy war of tribe against tribe, ideology against ideology and state against non-state. It is not unlike the reports of the forest fires on the West coast of the US, “burning out of control.” Leaders call for peace with empty words that fall on ears made deaf by decade after decade of unsuccessful negotiations and unending acts of brutality and retaliation and a pain that has sapped the ability for anyone to believe in a solution. There have been too many acts of aggression by everyone to permit peace to be a real possibility anymore.

So what does the government of Israel do? Its extremists have lit too many matches. Its population is awaiting the next Palestinian reaction. The next reprisal and then it will be Israel’s turn once again. It is a deadly war of attrition that has excised almost everyone’s belief in peace.

I look at Jerusalem and Ramallah and Bethlehem and Nablus and Hebron and Rafah and Tel Aviv and Ashqelon and Jenin from a safe distance every day separated by some 5000 miles of Atlantic Ocean. But the safety that I counted on was interrupted forever on 9/11 when terror crossed the Atlantic making the whole world into a single battlefield. And now I look at ISIS and watch it kill across the territory of Syria and Iraq and in a deli in Paris and a mosque in Texas. And it is simply too much!

There is little hope of words coming from Netanyahu, Abbas, Obama or any other leader putting out the fires of hate that are burning out of control in the Middle East and far beyond in warfare large and small and the open ended call by Islamic extremists to join the Jihad. There must be other solutions. Looking at Israel-Palestine it is clear that people are divided on so many levels that they do not even meet except in conflict. This is the challenge that must be faced by Israel’s leadership and equally by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. It is possible to sign a piece of paper, but that very paper will not be worth a thing unless both peoples believe in peace once again.

To do that is bigger than any party, any politics and any leader. It requires a new formula by an international community that has the wisdom to look beyond guilt, beyond blame and beyond punishment at the fundamental need for people to come together in dialogue, to speak with instead of at each other and to listen to the truth of the “other” until they absorb it enough to understand and accept it as a validation by Israelis of the humanity of Palestinians and by Palestinians of the humanity of Israelis.

To organize and implement A National Dialogue for Peace that continues beyond the deadlines of any political season with the formal blessing of the leaders is an exercise in crafting a future that interrupts the ongoing equation of Violence + Vengeance = More Violence by imposing an educational process on two peoples, their politicians and their society’s that brings people together in search of peace.

About the Author
Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace a non-profit based in suburban Philadelphia. Today he lives in New Jersey and is a Board Member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.