Listening for peace

To attempt to make a serious contribution to the unending expletive-filled dilemma that is Middle East Peace is a fool’s errand. It has been done and done and done again with buckets full of both good intentions and bad. With all the anger, hatred, fear, anxiety, and pain it manifests itself in a thousand journey’s to nowhere. Peace is considered at best a description of a future situation that continues to recede.

That said, here I go:

I have seen people try to include Israeli and Palestinian officials. I have seen people do by creating organizations to establish relationships such as the Parents Circle, Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam, the Peres Center for Peace, the Alliance for Middle East Peace, Roots, Combatants for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Bat Shalom, Seeds of Peace, the Interfaith Encounter Association, the Compassionate Listening Project, B’Tselem and many more. But the politics of a greater Israel and a Palestinian state from the River to the Sea remain the catchwords of countless people who look at the other with extraordinary contempt. They have witnessed too much killing, too much terror and too much heartache to consider sharing their HolyLand.

Where does that leave President Abbas and Prime Minister Lapid, let alone all the other Party’s on the inside and out? We’ve come a long way from the 1967 and 1973 Wars. Today the West Bank includes approximately 2.7 million Palestinians as well as 140 Israeli Settlements with approximately 390,000 Israelis. East Jerusalem has approximately 428,000 Palestinians and 220,000 Israelis. Gaza is run by Hamas with approximately 2 million Palestinians. To recognize the ongoing nature of the warfare on all sides prohibits most progress and after decades the governments have moved away from any talk of Peace.

So what’s left?

I believe that the only way forward is for people to listen. There is a fundamental need for Israelis to listen to the Palestinian story; their history and for Palestinians to listen to the Israeli story; their history. So much death and blight and horror on all sides that each can come to acknowledge the deep scars that will never heal born by the other. And in that acknowledgement after a Program in Listening it is possible to consider a home for two peoples in the HolyLand. To get there a large ongoing Private/Public Partnership must be built to facilitate thousands of meetings with Israelis and Palestinians Listening for Peace.

It can only happen if private money from both peoples is generated and the Governments formally approve the process for a period of ten years. That is the minimum amount of time necessary to create a new People’s Coalition for Peace that will be large enough to put Peace squarely back on the negotiating table. And then the real dialogue begins: Two States? A Confederation? Something else that promotes equality while providing security? There is the money. There is the need. There are the Governments. May it be so!

Larry Snider 7/14/22 Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace based in Philadelphia. He considers the value of Peace in the Middle East every day.

About the Author
Larry Snider is President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace, an NGO based in Philadelphia that brings the faiths together to learn about and from each other and to build a new constituency for Middle East Peace.

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