Violence and Road Map--what you can do about it
Source Rabbi Michael Lerner
Date 03/06/22/11:22

Rabbi Michael Lerner


Dear (place your congressional representative, senator or editor
of local newspaper or manager of TV station here, and edit as
you see fit--make this YOUR letter):

I  support  the good intentions behind President Bush's Road
Map for peace and deplore the current violence in the Middle
East that followed the signing of the agreement at Aqaba. I am
particularly glad that the U.S. is no longer saying that it is taking a
hands-off approach, since that has only left the murderous
status quo in place.

I'm writing to you because I want the Road Map  to succeed. And
I believe that you could help if you'd be willing to convey  to the
Administration my suggestions on how to overcome the
roadblocks to peace that have emerged in the last few weeks.  
I'm hoping that you'd introduce a Congressional resolution or
write and circulate a letter to your colleagues that would contain
these two ideas I outline below.

There are two steps that President Bush could take which would
significantly improve the chances for success of the Road Map.

Step One:  The Road Map Empowers the Extremists.

As President Bush noted, there are forces on both sides of the
struggle who do not want peace. For example, Hamas and the
fundamentalists in the Palestinian camp realize that peace will
necessarily lead to the acceptance of an Israeli state--an
outcome they believe violates their religious commitments to an
Islamic state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.

Unfortunately, because the Road Map calls for the cessation of
terror as a prerequisite to any peace negotiations,
fundamentalists on both sides know that in order to pre-empt
peace, all they need to do is perpetrate violence on the other
side. Because of this, the Road Map, as it is currently formulated,
guarantees the immediate escalation of terror and actually
rewards violence. Their aim, to stop the peace process, the
Road Map tells them, can only be achieved in one way: they
must plant bombs! That is  why there has been a serious
escalation of violence since the signing of the agreement.

Not to put the blame all on the Palestinian side, because a
significant group of Israeli settlers believe that the West Bank
has been given to the Jewish people by God and that allowing its
return to Palestinian control would be a violation of God's will. So
they engage in provocative acts, like the charade of dismantling
settlements a few days ago, only to rebuild settlements nearby a
few days later (a move that is obvious to Palestinians on the
ground, and makes them feel that the whole process is a trick,
but which is rarely reported in the U.S. media).

The Solution:  The U.S. government must  make strong and
unequivocal statements asserting that "regardless of how many
acts of violence are perpetrated by those who oppose peace, the
United States intends to establish a Palestinian state living in
peace with Israel within three years, and will not permit terrorists
or provocative acts by either side to interfere with that process."    
This must stand in stark contrast to Ariel Sharon, who continually
says that the process cannot proceed until terror has ceasedhe
very position that guarantees that it will not cease. Rather than
lecture the Palestinians about their need to take "stern
measures," disempower the extremists by taking away from
them this promise that gives them all the ability they need to stop
the peace process.

Step Two: The Road Map does not adequately empower the
moderates in the Palestinian world.

These moderates need to be able to tell their own population
that if they distance themselves from the extremists they will
succeed in obtaining a viable Palestinian state. But they've heard
Ariel Sharon clearly state that at the end of the Road Map--after
the three years of jumping through various hoops in which they
prove to the Israelis that they can operate as an effective police
force to suppress armed struggle against Israel--the result will
be "a negotiation" at which time Israel  will offer them a state in
42% of the West Bank. Because that is Sharon's intention, he
was able to say to his own extremists that they could stay in the
settlements and that their great grandchildren would remain in
those settlements, while simultaneously misleading our
President by assuring him that Israel would offer a Palestinian

Ariel Sharon's intentions, coupled with the ability to enforce them
through military Occupation, makes the "state" that this Road
Map leads to very unappealing to most Palestinians. So how can
Palestinian moderates use the prospect of these negotiations
three years from now to motivate people to marginalize the

The solution: The President must use the power the U.S.  gained
with Israel (by virtue of having eliminated the Saddam Hussein
threat)  to publicly and unequivocally state that the United States
supports and will insist upon a Palestinian state throughout the
West Bank and Gaza, and a return of Israel to the pre-67 borders
with "minor border modifications" so that Israel can incorporate
the Jewish sections of Jerusalem and a few border
settlements--and that these minor modifications will be
negotiated right now, at the beginning of the process. And the
U.S.  should then state other terms as well: (a) the creation of an
international fund to provide compensation to Palestinian
refugees who choose to live within the Palestinian state, but also
compensation for Jews who fled Arab lands from 1948-67; and
(b) funds to resettle Israeli settlers within the pre-67 borders of
Israel (however, the U.S.  should make it clear that those settlers
who wish to remain in the West Bank should be allowed to do
so, but only as law-abiding citizens of the new Palestinian state
and without any claim to protection or interference in their
well-being from the State of Israel, just as Arabs living within
Israel must live as law-abiding citizens of Israel and without any
claim to protection or interference in their well-being from the
State of Palestine).

The U.S. should also insist that this agreement will include
peace agreements, full recognition, and normal relations with all
surrounding Arab states. These agreements must include the
sharing of the ecological resources of the entire region in an
equitable way to benefit all its inhabitants; the creation of a joint
Israeli/Palestinian anti-terrorism force that will be supplemented
by U.S. intelligence forces and dedicated to fighting terrorism
which will continue even after the creation of a new Palestinian
state (because there will continue to be elements in both Israel
and Palestine who try to undermine the agreement even after it
has been implemented); and specific steps to root out from the
media and the school systems elements that teach hatred of the
Other, along with the creation of institutions aimed at creating
mutual respect and understanding of each other's history and
culture, and at fostering a new attitude of reconciliation and
generosity toward the Other. To ensure the safety of Israel from
attack from other states which might at some future time be
hostile, it must be given, as part of this agreement, an ironclad
mutual defense pact with the U.S. For similar reasons, the same
should be given to the new Palestinian state.

These steps will not satisfy Hamas, which seeks the total
destruction of Israel. But Hamas has grown in strength and
support largely because many Palestinians have lost faith in the
possibility of achieving a life of dignity for themselves, and have
turned to visions of fulfillment offered them by fundamentalist
alternatives. While there will always be a core of haters who will
try to undermine any peace settlement (and that will include
Jewish fundamentalists who  believe that God gave the Jews the
West Bank as their eternal possession), their support will
dwindle dramatically if the U.S. can show the Palestinian people
that there is something real to achieve by renouncing violence.

These steps are detailed in the Resolution for Middle East
Peace being circulated by the Tikkun Community, a progressive
pro-Israel, pro-Palestine organization which you may have read
about in the June 3rd  edition of The Washington Post ("New
Group Offers Alternative to AIPAC"  
What the President could do now is very simple: he could insist
that the negotiations originally scheduled for the end of the three
years be done first, right now, so that a complete agreement could
be reached now, under the guiding eye and pressure of the U.S.,
and then, armed with that agreement, both sides would have real
motivation to take the enabling steps defined in the rest of the Road
Map. Failing that, the U.S. could publicly state the terms suggested
above as the major  terms that it would seek out of any agreement.

There is one other element in the Tikkun Community resolution
that is gaining more and more credibility as the current violence
escalates: its call for the introduction of an international force to
provide a buffer between the two sides by separating them and
preventing violence.

In the July 2003 issue of TIKKUN a similar idea is put forward:
the possibility of making Palestine a short-term international
protectorate, so that Israeli troops would be withdrawn and
replaced by an international force to oversee the steps of the
Road Map, while preventing acts of violence on both sides. Such
a force would be stationed on the 1967 borders, and would thus
not attempt to do what Ariel Sharon is doing in building a wall
through the middle of the West Bank: namely, consolidate the

I would be delighted to discuss these issues with you in greater
detail. It would be a terrible shame if the Administration backed
away from its commitment to stay involved and create a peaceful
solution. But to help them, they need these specific ideas that
could help make the Road Map work. Will you please bring it to
the Administration and to others in your community?

YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS and phone number  

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