Israel is a success story economically, thriving in many fields. Militarily, Israel continues to dominate in the Middle East.
But despite its strengths, its typical response to the passions and hostilities spawned from its dominance is contrary to its own interests. The latest moves to evict lifelong residents from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem based on a legal system that “favors the victors” but is questionable under principles of equity have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of Jews and Arabs.
Considering everything, do the Israeli people feel safe? Not today and probably not tomorrow if their course does not change. The winners of World War I imposed punitive conditions upon Germany that set the stage for a demagogue like Adolf Hitler to start World War II and commit genocide against the Jews.
After that war, the victors adopted the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Germany and Europe. Now Europe enjoys stability. There are open internal borders, and war is unthinkable. Can’t we get to a similar result in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
Could Israel consider a U-turn in its approach? Suppose the Knesset proposes a Marshall Plan for infrastructure and housing in the Palestinian areas.
With support from other countries, these funds could be invested in projects to build up Palestine and provide employment for a young and growing population. Building up a people works, as demonstrated by the Marshall Plan. Imposing unlivable conditions on them does not, as demonstrated in the aftermath of World War I.
Imagine the benefits: Better living conditions, reduced unemployment, a stronger regional common market, the building of trust, a movement toward peaceful co-existence and — especially for Israel — the final steps in permanently securing a return of the Jewish people in the land of their cousins, where all the children of Abraham can recognize each other’s rights to exist and prosper. Enabling those Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah to prosper in place rather than evicting them would be a good start.
At 93, I am a tired but hopeful Palestinian dreaming that the next generation of Arabs and Jews will be able to clean up the messes of my own generation on both sides for the benefit of everyone’s children.