Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this week that he is prepared to grant Palestinians a state, release funds, and free prisoners.
All he asked Palestinians to do is: Form a new government (the existing government doesn't really exist); agree to international conditions such as the “Road Map” (which they have already basically done); and, release Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israeli soldier, (which is the right thing to do.)
Already, many among the Hamas fanatics and extremist “one-staters” are criticizing Olmert’s gesture as “empty,” saying he is merely pandering to the moment. He made his comments in a speech honoring the 1949 election of David Ben Gurion as Israel’s first prime minister.
I say, why not give it a try? Can things get worse?
The “one-staters” don’t want peace, but as is their style, they never offer a realistic or practical plan to make one-state happen, without destroying Israel.
Hamas, which is divided between practical political leaders on the frontlines and the organizations more fanatic zealots in Syria, has brushed Olmert’s speech off as “rhetoric.”
But why doesn’t the Palestinian population, for the first time in Palestinian history, take control of its own destiny and say yes? What’s wrong with always giving peace the benefit of the doubt over rejectionist rhetoric that always fails to do anything except make things worse?
Why not set aside violence as the option of emotion, hysteria and fanaticism and embrace non-violence and peace, even if peace is difficult, hard to achieve and likely to fail again?
I’m not sure if Olmert is serious. He could be just pandering to redefine himself. Let’s face it. The Arabs, in the past several months, have made several peace overtures and offered their own plans and Olmert’s government has rejected them.
Maybe Olmert just wants to do what public relations spin-meisters always advise a client who is backed against a wall? Reject what is offered and re-offer it as your own.
Take the focus off the fact that you have rejected peace gestures from the Arab World by offering peace. What an ingenious political strategy for someone whose government is somewhat shaky.
I mean, Olmert’s government is shaky, isn’t it? Why else would he join forces with a racist fanatic like Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, an Israeli government official who has called for the outright murder of Palestinian political activists and the expulsion of Palestinians to Arab countries?
If Israel does have an Apartheid-like state as former American President Jimmy Carter warns is transpiring, then Lieberman is the Apartheid King. Lieberman is the “King anti-Solomon,” the opposite of the Biblical King who wisely used division as a means to bring beauty and truth to the surface.
Lieberman wants to use division as a means of creating more chaos and conflict.
Not surprisingly, Olmert found himself criticized by Lieberman’s followers, too. So it’s not just Palestinians who have spoken out against Olmert’s magnanimous gesture, empty or otherwise.
Many Israeli extremists have denounced Olmert, too.
But I say that should not stop Palestinians and Israelis from embracing Olmert’s pace gesture. It doesn’t matter whether it is an empty gesture or not.
The reality of the Palestine-Israel conflict is that Palestinians and Israelis are constantly making more emotional gestures that get out of hand and turn into violence.
Why not allow peace to get out of hand, for once, and result in peace, too?
If Olmert lives up to his words - I’m not convinced he will live up to those words, or that Palestinians will allow him to live up to his stated intentions - then Palestinians must be ready to respond with a serious, non-violent national front.
Israel gives us our land back and we give them an equal proportion of peace. As the Israelis withdraw from occupied lands, Palestinians withdraw from conflict.
Sure, sounds like Oslo, but I heard Oslo is a beautiful and peaceful city. Peace is always the better choice for everyone.
Even if a final agreement is never hammered out, I prefer the tenuous relations that existed in the mid-1990s, before Rabin’s death, Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and the 2nd Intifada undermined the public’s confidence that peace is possible.
I know that once peace is allowed to nurture, it will spread. Goodwill has a way of resolving all old conflicts.
Eventually, Israel will give Palestinians land in Israel in exchange for West Bank land used to build the illegal settlements. It means Israelis and Palestinians will one day find a way to have two separate states and share Jerusalem.
And it means that while Israelis will accept the limits of their greater Zionist dreams, Palestinians will be honest with the refugees and tell them that the most they can expect in any future is compensation and someday even an Israeli apology.
Of course, Israelis and Palestinians will have to change how they respond to violence, which is certain to take place no matter what peace plans are offered, accepted or proposed.
As Palestinians and Israelis inch towards peace, violence will happen from both sides. But rather than surrendering to that violence as has been done in the past, Israelis and Palestinians will stand together and forge ahead towards peace.
Eventually, the violence will disappear as the fanatics lose power. As peace begins to flourish, suffering will end, animosity will dissipate, emotions will subside and hope will grow.
Ray Hanania was named Best Ethnic Columnist for 2006/12007 by the New America Media. He can be reached at www.hanania.com