The Sulha Party Poem

Original title: It isn’t easy being a person, & Why there isn’t a charismatic person to lead the silent majority to elect a Sulha(Reconciliation)-oriented government & to rechannel Israeli & Palestinian minds & energies to the battle to save the planet [a first draft])

pearl

It isn’t easy being a person.
So much to do
in & around
one’s own life.

So we’re unlikely to find a person
who in mid-life
can conceive & bring out the narrative
that will move the silent majority
to follow their true humane impulses.

& the polls are saying more people than ever
have become more & more right
& the right, it’s said, is stronger than ever.

But what does the silent majority really feel?
How do they really deal
with the knowledge that their daily existence
depends on the continued oppression,
exclusion, occupation, blockading, devastation
& traumatizing of millions of other people
(even if they keep telling themselves:
We, our people, have suffered these things for centuries
& it seems the only choice is oppress or be oppressed
so we choose to be oppressors.
It’s a dog eat dog world)?

& what would the narrative be
that could connect the silent majority
with their true humane impulses?

Someone would have to get out there & get up there
& say something like:

I believe that the silent majority are neither right nor left,
neither violent racists or nationalists or goodie-goodie idiots.
I believe that the silent majority are not fools,
that they’re mostly good people, who care for their & their families’
& their nation’s well-being & security,
& because they see that they are beset by enemies
who resent their very presence
around & within the country,
& they think that as things stand the choice
is between being overrun by those enemies
& keeping them at bay, by whatever means it takes –
increased exclusion & humiliation of Arab citizens
within the “State of Israel”,
& continued dispossession, occupation,
blockade, devastations & traumas
like Protective Edge, Pillar of Defense, Cast Lead –
& they will vote for the parties of the right
almost wholeheartedly.Almost. But if they are honest with themselves,
sometimes, maybe in the night,
they will hear their hearts say,
Yes, the dangers are real, but it is we
who have brought them upon ourselves,
& it is we who have created the situation
in which, just to survive & continue living
the life we love in this country, we have to be
excluders & humiliators & dispossessors & occupiers
& blockaders & devastators & traumatizers,
& have to cause the daily miseries of millions
of excluded & humiliated & dispossessed & occupied
& blockaded & devastated & traumatized
human beings of all ages
who happened to be born
not Jews but Arabs
in Palestine

& somewhere in that night they will feel shame,
& guilt, & pain, that they have been & continue to be
the cause of so much suffering to so many,
who resent their presence not because they are Jews
but because, since the beginning of their project in Palestine,
Zionists have treated the indigenous Arabs with disrespect,
with dishonor, with dishonesty, with intent
to exclude them from their homeland,
& have generated the indignant & violent acts of resistance
&/or revenge that have killed, bereaved, wounded & maimed
many human beings of all ages who happened to be born Jews
anywhere in the world, or Arabs, or others, who happened then
to be living in Israel
in Palestine.

& they will feel shame, & guilt, & pain, that also to protect
what they believe is their security & well-being they have been
& continue to be the cause of so much suffering to the asylum seekers
held in hopeless & heartless detention in the desert concentration camp
called “Holot”, “Sands”.

& there will be moments when the shame, the guilt, the pain,
will be so strong, when each person of voting age will ask:
Is this who I want to be? Is this what it is to be human?
Is this what it is to be a Jew? “Love your neighbor,”
“love the stranger,” Judaism says. Is how it is how I want it to be?

These feelings & these thoughts are too painful to bear
in one’s daily consciousness. They are quickly suppressed.
We are all well-practiced at this, concealing from ourselves
our dishonesties, our complicities in collective crimes,
whatever we don’t really like about ourselves, our true natures.
& we all pay the price of such suppression,
no less than we pay the price of our oppression of others
whether we’re conscious of it or not.

&, some nights, even before we can suppress these thoughts,
another thread of thoughts may come, saying:
& the more we continue this way
the greater will grow the danger
the greater will grow their resentment
the greater will grow their resistance
for no human will willingly accept such oppression.

& the greater too will grow Israeli Jewish hatred of Arab Palestinians:
already in the last few months things have been getting worse.
Settlers in the West Bank attacking & killing Arab Palestinians
cutting down olive trees, poisoning sheep,
Price Tag & Lehava & increased anti-Arab actions & articulations in Israel,
the IDF detaining more Palestinians than in any previous year,
& the list could go on & on: check out The Palestine Project‘s updates.

& then a third thread may begin, maybe more terrible even
than the first two: the horrible devastation that lies ahead
for our grandchidren &/or their children as the earth heats
& nothing serious enough is yet being done about it?
& all our best minds, Jewish-Israeli & Arab Palestinian,
are involved so deeply in this “conflict”! We need to liberate
their intelligence & their energy to face the greatest danger
to life on our planet: global warming, & quickly!

& & thinking of danger there’s also that of the fundamentalist terrorists,
Islamist, Judaist, Christian, neo-Fascist, tribal, whatever it calls itself,
whatever creed they claim justifies their heartless slaughter
& inhumane treatment & exploitation of other human beings.

& now I say to you: let’s stay with these thoughts a little,
for they’re closer to the truth than anything the politicians say,
for they are what most of the silent majority feel
when they feel the sad truth.

& it doesn’t matter right now that behind & around & beneath
this “conflict” there are greater power&profit interests
pulling strings, manipulating governments & publics & media.
right now what matters is electing a government that speaks for
what the silent majority truly feels in those moments: that there must
be an end to this intolerable ongoing state of affairs.

How can it be ended? “Solutions” have been suggested,
none have worked. I think there can be only one way that may bring
a true reconciliation, one in which Israeli Jews will no longer
have to fear mass acts of revenge & retribution
for all the injustices they have committed against Arab Palestinians.
It is not an easy way. Certainly not easy for anyone who is proud
of what he or she is. But it is a true way, an honest way,
& I think the only way, to bring true reconciliation.

It is to ask for a sulha. It is to admit,
acknowledge our responsibility, apologize, & offer
acceptable compensation for all the disrespect,
the intent to exclude, the dispossession,
from before & during & after the Naqba, & for all
our violations of human rights thru the occupation,
the blockades, the devastations, the traumas
we’ve caused since the 1967 war.

It is to honestly say to the Arab Palestinians:

We felt we had no choice.
We had just seen millions of our people murdered
& we needed a haven for our remnants. But we had no right
to treat you as we did, even before that.
The Arab armies that invaded us in 1948 weren’t on your side,
they all had their own interests. But we expelled
as many of you as we dared, & limited the lives of those of you
who remained. We saw you all as enemies, as threats
to our survival. We still fear you, we fear that many among you
are justly filled with hatred for us, & that some among you
are only waiting for the best opportunity
to exact a great revenge.We are truly sorry for the injustices & crimes & violations
of human rights we have committed against you.
We wish to put an end to this situation, to end the continuing
occupation & the constant cycle of exclusion, dispossession,
occupation, blockades, devastations, traumas.

Some of you might want to say
that having admitted all our responsibility for your sufferings
we should now vacate the place entirely.
& there might be some justice in that position.
But we cannot do that. History has done its work,
Generations of Hebrew-speaking Israelis have been born here in Palestine,
& Israel is their only homeland.
We have revived an ancient language here,
We have built here a culture & an economy,
There is a mixed society here, with a majority of Jews,
& we have a haven here for Jews who may need it.
We will not, cannot, give up these things.

But we will do what we can to bring about a resolution
that is equitable & acceptable to you,
& our three conditions are that our security is guaranteed,
that our country may remain a haven
for Jews who may yet face persecution in other land,
& that our capital can remain in West Jerusalem
with guaranteed & safe access for Jews to the Western Wall.

We will accept the Arab League’s Peace Initiative of 2002.
We will withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967.
We will recognize a Palestinian state
consisting of the entire West Bank & the Gaza Strip
with constant untrammelled access between its two parts
& untrammelled access to the sea, with East Jerusalem
as its capital, & with the right of return
of Palestinian refugees & rightful restitution to the unlawfully
dispossessed. &/or, we propose to you
the principles of the Two States in One Space idea:
that Palestinians can be residents of Israel & citizens
of Palestine, & vice versa; that there can be free passage
in both states for citizens of either, etc etc
We might call the new framework
the Confederation of Israel & Palestine (CIP).

Ideally its first principles would be EQUAL CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL CITIZENS,
irrespective of ethnic, religious, racial or gender differences;
AUTONOMOUS CULTURAL RIGHTS FOR BOTH NATIONS, each freely
administering cultural institutions & media & schools in their own language,
& teaching the other’s language as their students’ second language,
as well as learning the other’s history; COMMITMENT TO THE CONFEDERATION,
both nations committed to doing their utmost to sustain the reconciliation.

We reject the idea that Israel is the national state of the Jewish people.
We know the difference between the Jewish people in the diaspora
who are citizens of other nations, & the Israeli-Jewish nation
that has arisen in Israel in Palestine.

We recognize that Palestine is the national homeland of all people
of Arab-Palestinian descent, & we recognize in principle the right of return
of all Arab Palestinians who were exiled &/or their descendants,
& of equitable restitution to those we have dispossessed.
& we think the CIP could establish courts to deal justly with individual claims.

We believe that the responsibility for the long conflict
& for its successful resolution rests not only with us
& with the Arab Palestinians, but also with all those countries
that voted in the UN for the inequitable Partition Plan in 1947
& that recognized the State of Israel & supported it during all the years since.
They too must pay their share in making this reconciliation a success.

We know that our greatest problem with this reconciliation is security.
For both sides. For by now there are elements on both sides that hate
& seek revenge on the other side. Cries like “Death to the Arabs”
& “Slaughter the Jews” are still heard. We must each commit to form
strong security forces that will prevent attacks against our partners
in this reconciliation. We must establish trust between us.
Such things have been done before in the world, & can be done by us & you.

If the government of the State of Israel addresses the Arab Palestinians
in such terms, I believe enough support will be found amongst them
for a reconciliation & an agreement. You may say it’s a lot to give,
& it’s true, but you’re still not giving them back as much as you’ve taken
from them. & it’s the humane thing to do, & it’ll bring you peace,
not only no more war, for real, but peace of mind & soul at last, as well.
If all the Israeli & Palestinian security forces have to deal with
are the extremists from their own sides, don’t you think they can handle it?So this is what we have to do: form a Sulha party,
get elected, & form a government that’ll do this!

& others would have to join that someone, & spread the word, really break the silence
& let the suppressed & secretest feelings of the majority at last be expressed,
& let the reconciliation process truly begin.
Will it happen? I can’t guess. But at least, being closer to the end than the middle of my life,
& far away from the scene
I have the time to envisage it, & the will, even more, the need, the passion
to articulate & publish the vision, even if it seems deluded, or megalomanic.
& perhaps someone with younger energies there will see it, & say it
in a way that will inspire many activists
& ultimately lead the silent majority
to elect a Sulha(Reconciliation)-oriented government,
so we can get this “conflict”* out of the way,
create & sustain the confederation
so that its people can live in harmony
& its best minds can give their full attention to the global dangers.

(Someone else might need to translate this into Hebrew,
don’t see myself doing it for a while, but who knows
what i’ll want to do
in the days to come

* If you want to know why i keep writing “conflict” inside quotes, see this link.

 

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