Get out of our way, politicians!

The outrageous ballet choreographed Tuesday in Washington, by two grim narcissists, will bring the house down, I fear. We may be on the verge of a new Initfada, an uprising, and this time, deep despair, a sense of nothing to lose, will be fueling it.

The Trump deal is like having trouble in your marriage and going to talk to a friend with whom you cook up a solution and then you go back to your wife and you say, “Listen, he and I cooked up this solution, and we expect you to cooperate with what we’ve worked out for you.” We wonder why she’s not enthusiastic.

Amos Oz said, “The Israelis and Palestinians will never be one big happy family. (The conflict) will not end in a honeymoon between enemies, but through painful and fair divorce.”

The Oslo dream of cooperating nations, side by side, Palestine and Israel, now seems like a wisp of cloud blowing away to the horizon. But we can live with a decent divorce. Divorced couples with children are locked together in inevitable cooperation. And we are the children of our nations. We need for things to work out between our divorced parents.

That’s not too much to ask, a decent divorce. An agreement crafted by two peoples who once lived well together, where the mutual respect, the regard is not gone. But there’s been too much pain, too much bloodshed to be able to overcome the wounds, just yet. Palestine needs her space right now. Like a recent divorcee, she must get up on her own feet, independently put her new life together. We, the divorcing husband, we can offer to help out at our “ex’s” house, when that becomes appropriate.  But for now, the kids’ welfare is what’s important. And as the divorce ripens, we will make that huge leap in consciousness, finally acknowledging that we Israelis will be safe and well only insofar as our Palestinian “ex” is well.

So now, together, brave Israeli Palestinian leaders must lead us to take our fate into our hands, here in our region. Let the people make this peace, while leaders will act to enable all the energy and brilliance of people working together. If leaders will only take direction from Abraham Maslow, who said, towards the end of his therapy career, “My job is to get out of the way of the healing process of my clients.” We Israelis and Palestinians require no help from outside “friends…” We will handle this ourselves, thank you. We, the people, we have the tools for the job and the keys to the door. Get out of our way, politicians. We’ve got lives to live.

Sulha Peace Project is one of more than 100 peace organizations working in Israel and Palestine. The beauty of the hard-working, well-meaning Palestinians who come to Sulha gatherings, their earnest desire to get to know us Israelis. The more comfortable Israelis, some initially wary, then daring to engage with the Palestinians. The Palestinians’ hunger to trust us, and ours to trust them. The breakthroughs at a workshop, the moments when what is possible is seen in a bear-hug between men. No deals going down here, just a fierce desire to live.

Yoav Peck, co-director of the Sulha Peace Project, bringing Palestinians and Israelis for people-to-people solidarity-building

About the Author
Yoav Peck, a Jerusalem organizational psychologist, is director of the Sulha Peace Project. Born and raised in New York/New Jersey, he holds a BA from Berkeley, and an MA in organizational psychology. He made aliyah in 1973, and was a member of Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi for 15 years, and has been living in Jerusalem since '88. He has three kids, and three grandchildren.
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