peace keyhole

by Jerome Grapel

President Obama’s bold initiative with regard to the Cuban situation could be seen as a way to attack an even more problematic global problem, that referred to in the title of this essay. In other words, just as he did with Cuba, it’s time to cut the crap.

For more than a half century, one of the bones most stuck in the craw of peace and harmony in the world has been the seemingly untenable situation caused by the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. One might even argue it has been the #1 cause of geo-political unrest on this planet. This writer would award that dishonor to the energy needs of the developed world’s consumer society, but it would be difficult to argue that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not go a long way in easing tensions around the globe. Unfortunately, after more than a half century of trying to do just that, we seem to have hardly gotten out of the starting gate.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to achieving peace in this conflict is the political playing field in the United States, where Jewish electoral and financial clout has a tendency to emasculate a president’s ability to reign in Israeli imperial excess. The focus of this essay will be how this obstacle can be circumvented with a minimum of political fallout, but before getting into that let’s explain exactly what the goal is:

I’ve often expressed my skepticism as to whether the creation of Israel was a good idea. The course of post WWII history tends to fortify such skepticism, but it is now a moot point. Israel is a reality that is here to stay and I would not advocate for anything else. The most logical path to take has already been mapped out and agreed upon with the so called Two State Solution, that is, an Israeli state who’s right to exist is recognized by everyone, and a freshly minted Palestinian homeland occupying what has come to be known as the West Bank. Being that the Jewish State was carved out of what had been the Palestinian homeland for centuries, there are elements of the Arab-Moslem world that will never accept this (can you blame them?), but there is no choice but to play the game with the players on the field. The Two State Solution is not only the most practical way forward, but one that receives overwhelming support in the world, including the “official” support of both the United States and Israel.

The problem is that Israel does not seem to take this commitment seriously. Its actions, most embodied in their stubborn insistence on building Jewish settlements on the West Bank, seem to be laughing in the face of such commitment. The preposterous nature of both building these settlements and officially accepting a two state solution could be likened to shooting the bird at the international community. Everyone knows you cannot walk in 2 directions at the same time. The United States, as Israel’s principle sponsor in the world, holds the key to turning this around.

Although an American president finds it almost impossible to criticize an exaggerated Israeli military response to Arab provocation (this is no problem for the rest of the world), Barak Obama is not the first president to show displeasure for the continued expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Anyone with the I.Q. of a domestic cat can see the incompatibility of such actions with a two state solution. How can an American president make Israel live up to its two state obligation without suffering serious political damage domestically?
There are 2 words that become most relevant in dealing with this problem: “coalition” and “diplomacy”.

Let’s start with the former. For a generation or more now, the word “coalition”, used in reference to American foreign policy, has always been coupled to some form of war making. “Coalition”, in this context, has been used as a public relations stunt meant to deodorize the stench of what is really a unilateral act of military aggression by the United States. The “coalition” partners are primarily symbolic participants in actions that were instigated and carried out almost exclusively by Americans (what the quid pro quo is for this “participation” is anyone’s guess).

In trying to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian problem, the idea of a coalition would be anything but symbolic. All members of the coalition would perform on an equal footing, advocating with an equal amount of vigor in the singular task of resolving the conflict in Palestine. Nobody would be leading the coalition, nobody would be in charge of the coalition, nobody would, theoretically, have more or less influence in the coalition. This would be a seamless, joint endeavor. Most importantly, unlike the previous “coalitions” created by the United States, it would be a coalition to make peace not war.

This leads us to the word “diplomacy”. Diplomacy is an act that is always carried out far from the eyes and ears of public attention. It operates in the anonymity where the sun don’t shine. What usually becomes the visual results of such actions are the outcomes of long, drawn out, tedious machinations that generally leave aside the public forms of propaganda with which opposing parties confront each other. Diplomacy is pragmatism in its most distilled form.

If pragmatism is the word of the moment, then we must also realize the United States will have to play the major role in resolving this quagmire. It will have to be the Alpha Dog himself who becomes the catalyst for the peace coalition, a coalition who’s role will be to put pressure on Israel to comply with its demands (to be enunciated later in this essay). But the important part is this: although the United States will be the driving force behind the coalition and its demands, it will only be so in the shrouded back alleys of diplomacy. Once the coalition is formed and its policy can be formally declared, the United States becomes no more than another screw in the machinery of the apparatus. It becomes another voice amongst many voices. The whole idea is to provide cover for the United States, to take some pressure off the Alpha Dog so that its leaders can do the right thing in a domestic political climate that has always stymied this.

So here I am, it is 2016 and I’ve just been elected President of the United States. Without having changed the usual narrative that has revolved around the Palestinian question for so many years, one of my first priorities is to get to work building this coalition for peace. I do it behind the back of public knowledge. The logical place to start would be with our allies in Western Europe — England, France, Germany, Italy, etc. Once an understanding with these bigger players can be achieved, we try to put it all under the umbrella of the European Union. We then look to invite more people to the party. Such formidable players as China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, India, Canada, etc., can be brought into the process as members of the G-20 economic group. What we are seeking is a broad cross section of the world’s population and some form of African representation should be sought as well.

The American diplomatic effort must be clear in explaining its purpose to those it is trying to enlist, that being a broad enough global inclusion so that the United States can participate in the process. Although the Americans must be the primary instigators of this coalition and its policies, it only wants to do so in the diplomatic shadows. Once this all begins to come out of the closet, its role becomes no more than that of another member and the public relations efforts of the coalition must try to propagate this feeling. There are, supposedly, no dominant players. This is the only way the political class in the United States can find enough cover to buck the Jewish lobby in its midst.

If we accept the idea the Two State Solution is the goal of this coalition, how does it go about accomplishing this?

As the newly elected President of the United States, what I envision is this: once the coalition is formed, it begins to work secretly on formalizing its policy. It will make demands primarily on Israel, but on the Palestinians as well. As the process moves along, the coalition begins to slowly make itself known to the world. Although the United States is playing a primary role, the coalition presents itself as an entity whose impetus came from outside the United States. Sooner or later, as the coalition’s existence becomes more public, the United States will send “observers” and, as a late arrival, begin to have input. The end game is this — when the final product is ready, the United States will have no choice but to sign on to the reasonable ideas created by such a widespread global voice.

Once the coalition is ready to present its policies, the fanfare begins. A date is announced, an important national capitol is chosen, and all the leaders of the coalition will be there to sanctify the agreement, including the President of the United States. My choice for the site would be Paris, not only for the “cache” this city has in history, but because France has one of the largest Moslem populations in the western world. This would make the French head of state the host of the gathering, which is in harmony with relieving the Americans of an excessive amount of protagonism. The document meant to convey the coalition’s declaration could be called the “Parisian Protocol” and would be the following:

Being that Israel is the target of most of the “Protocol’s” discipline, we begin by throwing the Israelis a bone. “All the signatories to the Parisian Protocol agree that Israel has the right to exist as a sovereign nation eternally, with the borders set forth by the United Nations agreement in 1949. Any external aggression challenging this fact will be met with the stern opposition of this coalition and whatever response deemed appropriate.” And now, without getting into some thorny details in this essay, the Protocol begins to enunciate the focus of its demands. “Likewise, all the signatories of the Parisian Protocol earnestly support the creation of the sovereign nation of Palestine on what is known as the West Bank. Any attempts to undermine this result will be met with the stern opposition of this coalition and whatever response deemed necessary, including diplomatic isolation, economic boycotts, and other appropriate dispositions. Being that the construction and occupation of Jewish settlements on the West Bank is just such an undermining factor, we demand these settlements be either destroyed or abandoned as soon as possible.” And now for the grand finale. “The Two State Solution implies a complete normalization of relations between Israel and Palestine, with the exchange of ambassadors and the goodwill and harmony that define the peaceful coexistence of sovereign nations. This includes the vigilance and prosecution by the Palestinian government against any acts of violence planned and carried out from Palestinian territory against Israel. Any willful neglect of this obligation will make it difficult for the coalition to oppose an Israeli response”.

The plan is to accomplish a two state solution by camouflaging the American role in the folds of a comprehensive international effort. But the question still remains: is the Two State Solution a solution? Resistance to a Jewish State will always exist. But if you give the Palestinians something that is theirs; something to hold onto; something to lose, their cooperation might be procured.

Unfortunately, the most recent history of this region has thrown yet another bone into the craw of peace and harmony. The sectarian battles exemplified by the civil war in Syria, the flimsy nature of the Iraqi state, and the extra official army we’ve come to call ISIS, is putting in doubt all the borders created by the colonial powers between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. The idea of a Palestinian state could be becoming irrelevant.

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Jerome GrapelI began writing essays in the early 90’s, the collection “Because You Never Asked” being a fractional but representative cross section of an output that is still in progress today. I restrict their content to anything that may be relevant since the dawn of time to the end of eternity. They’ve given me a kind of therapeutical way to voice my objections to the paradigm of our culture and the negativity it is leading us into. All cultures attempt to inculcate their constituents into someone’s narrow minded, self serving version of reality and this book is an attempt to translate these subterfuges into the truth. Although a number of my earliest essays are included in this collection, the vast majority of them are more contemporary. Regardless of their chronology, they should all still be pertinent to whatever is happening at this moment.

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Because You Never Asked

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