The next phase

You can’t be for peace unless you’re for the two-state solution. So says the PLO. You can’t be for peace unless you return to the 1967 lines. So says Saeb Erakat. You can’t be for peace and be forced to negotiate over the issue of the Jewish State. So says the PA, the PNC and US Secretary of State John Kerry. You can’t be for peace without accepting the Arab Peace Initiative and the “Right of Return” for all Palestinians. So says the Jordanian king. You can’t be for peace without a closed Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. So says Abu Mazen. You can’t be for peace period, and you can’t accept the Jews as your equals. So says Hamas.

You can’t be for peace and still have doubts about the good intentions of the Palestinian people. So says the Israeli far-Left. You can’t be for peace and believe that peace is virtually impossible without including the 4.5 million Palestinians living east of the river. So says the British Foreign Office and the US Department of State. You can’t be for peace and also expect the US government to roll-back Iranian hegemony within the region. So says President Barack Obama. You can’t believe in peace if you believe that Jews have the right under international law to live in Judea and Samaria. So says the American Jewish Friends of Peace Now and J Street. You can’t be for peace without restricting historic Palestine-Israel’s borders from the “river to the sea”. So says the US, Britain, the PLO, the EU, the monarchy in Jordan and the Israeli secular establishment. You can’t be for peace without taking chances with other Jewish people’s lives. So say all the naive Jewish liberals who would have you believe that peace is possible through acceptance of ninety per cent of what’s written above.

The greatest myth in circulation today is the myth that a West Bank Palestinian State will somehow create a workable two-state solution. During the first phase of the so-called two-state solution, there will be instead three states — a Jewish rump state with its back to the sea, a Palestinian mini-state on the high ground with a democratic veneer, and a Hashemite absolute monarchy with a vast Palestinian majority. This wobbly structure could probably last a matter of months (perhaps weeks) and not much more. Either the Jordanian king will insist on relieving the kingdom of its Palestinian majority, or the Palestinians within the kingdom will demand to federate or confederate with the West Bank state. Either way, the result would be unsustainable. Political chaos would ensue. For a true process to be successful, the political future of the east bank of the Jordan River must be brought into the peace structure from the very onset. For all of those so-called “experts” on the peace process who believe that they “know what the final outcome of the two-state process looks like”, I say that their paradigm will never be tested because it is grossly unworkable and duly misinformed.

The same is true for the 1967 lines. These lines are militarily untenable. Any future stable peace must consist of at least two constants of self-defense. First, Israel must be able to defend all her borders through strategic depth with the entire Arab and/or Islamic world (including Turkey and Iran). Second, Palestine must have armed forces to be a normal state. These concepts are simply impossible without the geographic entry of Jordan into the peace process. Demilitarization is not a viable option that any Arab leader could sell to his population, and to think otherwise is pure folly. Similarly, Israel without a West Bank defensive line would be forced to rely on doomsday weaponry that would restrict the entire region to a razor’s edge nuclear strategy. Without an Israeli Jordan Valley defensive line, a Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East would be impossible. This type of zone is the only way to prevent Iran and many others from developing their own nuclear forces.

But peace cannot rest on balance of power alone. Culture and religion must play a huge role for any historic Middle East peace plan to reach fruition. The Oslo Process (twenty years without success) has been a secular nightmare. First and foremost, it is unbalanced in the sense that its two competing narratives (Israeli and Palestinian) cannot be reconciled. Both national secular movements claim the same territory as their homeland and rightful possession. All arguments simply bypass each other as both parties to the conflict merely “whistle in the wind”.

Without reconciliation there can be no peace. Nationalism doesn’t have the force of Judaism and Islam. Only a Divine inspired intervention can succeed on the metaphysical level. Only a faithful interpretation of the two Divine documents, Torah and Koran, will allow the intervention to proceed, as Supreme Authority trumps human fear and hesitation. Only with Divine inspired intervention through the deep narrative of the Divine historic will can the appropriate theological understanding establish the mystical architecture necessary for a durable political peace. The material benefits of this peace must be tangible and shared universally as a global statement of Divine Presence and the certainty of human justice. After all, this is the message of both Judaism and Islam. For the Muslims, the Jewish State must cease to be an anathema and become instead the culmination of Koranic prophesy. And for the Jews, Islam’s place in the promise to Abraham must be shown through proper interpretation of Torah, updated to this new era of Jewish sovereignty in search of peace.

Yes, Jerusalem should be the open capital city of two states for two peoples living both together and side by side in the historic Land of Israel. The geography of this land is well known to all except the secular authorities who would distort its dimensions for imperial advantage. If Jews cannot live in Judea, then Englishmen cannot live in England; it’s that simple. When Moses looked across to the “Promised Land” he looked north-northwest, where he saw a valley with two sides to a river and the highlands to the west. He saw an historic land with a Divine Covenant now recognized by three global religions. Israel and the Palestinians should be the rightful inheritors of this Divine Land for all believers world-wide. It is upon this geography, both physical and metaphysical, that the Peace of the Holy Land shall be made.

The political Left in Israel and elsewhere are for the most part atheists. They perceive justice in categories of time either from the French Revolution (1789) or the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). As secular Zionists, they are in open rebellion against religion, especially traditional orthodox authority. They have attempted, and failed, to make an historic treaty with the secular forces of the Palestine National Movement. Netanyahu was a traditional secular rightist who, like Sharon and Olmert, have gone over toward a leftist position. This centrist camp have found it extremely difficult to manage a political understanding with most other secular forces in Europe and the US. They have also (for political reasons) relegated and threatened the Israeli Right, but still found it impossible to deal with the Palestinian National Movement. Even if the current dialogue were to continue with an agreed framework, the prospect of a comprehensive agreement between any of these particular actors and the secular Palestinians is remote.

The religious Zionists have never entered a serious political dialogue with any of their Islamic contemporaries. Hamas rejects Israel and the place of the Jewish People (on the Land of Israel) in the Koranic Moses narrative. But to work for peace is a Judaic imperative. And since the religious Zionists’ emphasis on conquest without reconciliation has also reached an historic dead-end, perhaps the next phase of the peace process could encompass a religious understanding that includes a far more spiritual narrative. Instead of directing its message toward Europe and the US (which have their own problems), Israel would be wise to integrate her message toward an enlightened Islam. Democracy, economy, human rights and physical geography (solar energy, desalination, decentralized workshops and small farms) are vast new areas of religious territory where the inspirations of Judaism could coincide with an Islamic world ripe for progress through innovation. A Jewish State in search of true categories of justice for all the world’s peoples can only fulfill its mission through a religious understanding with its neighbors. The non-Zionist Orthodox cannot lead the way. Only religious Zionism can direct us toward the next phase of the peace process. For unlike the traditional Orthodox, the religious Zionists believe that the sovereign Jewish presence in the Holy Land (lead even by secular forces) is a direct sign of a G-d in history. Of all the Jewish actors on the scene today, only religious Zionism connects the past with the present and future.

The Palestinians are not fools. They understand that the global community has tired of the secular Netanyahu narrative. Oslo is now finally dying before our very eyes. The future is not promising for Israel without a next phase to the peace process. Our closest friends worry as our enemies prepare their international response. The Israeli Center cannot hold without the leadership of the religious Right. The Left prepares its concessions and bides its time. Even though G-d has promised us peace, it is still up to us to come up with a narrative and an alternate plan. Hopefully, the next phase of the peace process will reveal a great reawakening of the Jewish People with their G-d of history. It’s up to us; it seems history has left us little choice.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).
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