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The NAKBA: the Holocaust of the Palestinians
The Path to Peace through Justice in the Middle East

by Michael R. Burch

The ongoing conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians seems to be irresolvable; therefore the current "wisdom" has become that "those people" are full of "hatred" for each other and have been "fighting for thousands of years," so there is "no hope for peace." But before we wring our hands or throw them up helplessly in the air, and before we stereotype Jews and Palestinians (or pick one side to favor at the expense of the other), we need to consider two very important things:

(1) People who don't like each other can live together in peace, if everyone is treated equally and is governed by fair laws and fair courts. During the Holocaust, Jews were treated horrendously by Nazis, and multitudes of Jews were slaughtered in the most despicable fashion imaginable. However, after Germany lost the war and came under a system of much fairer laws and courts, many thousands of Jews were able to live there and chose to do so even when they were free to leave, despite the fact that there was no sudden "love fest" between Germans and Jews. Today hundreds of thousands of Jews live in Germany. And much the same thing is true of  the descendents of the black Africans who were treated so horrendously by white American slaveowners. As soon as the United States finally began to abolish Jim Crow laws in the Deep South, to their surprise white racists discovered that they were able to live in peace with the blacks they hated and despised. And before long, many white Americans came to the conclusion that they really didn't "hate" blacks, after all. Millions of them came to the conclusion that the main problem had been racism and injustice on the part of white Americans, not "inferiority" on the part of blacks. If Israel were to abandon its current system of systematic, government-sanctioned racism and apartheid, no doubt something very similar would happen in a relatively short period of time.

(2) Jews and Palestinians have not been "constantly at war" with each other. For instance, the New Testament records in considerable detail what life was like in Israel/Palestine during the first century AD, when Roman laws and courts (the famous Pax Romana) were imposed on all the natives. The New Testament doesn't mention any major hostilities between the Jews and Palestinians who lived in the region at that time. Furthermore, during the Jewish Diaspora (which lasted for almost 2,000 years) there were always Jews who continued to live in Palestine. For the most part, they lived in peace with their neighbors. As Albert Einstein pointed out, Arabs had historically treated the Jews much better than European Christians had. It was only when Jews began to arrive in Palestine in ever-increasing numbers, in the early 1900s, that tensions began to mount, nerves began to fray and both sides (not just the Arabs) began to get violent. And let's be honest: if millions of Jews had descended on Texas and informed the locals that in the new Jewish nation of Texas eating bacon and driving to football games on Saturday would be illegal, all hell would have broken loose there too.

If we consider the historical facts, it seems clear that it is justice that leads to peace, not lovey-doveyness. And this makes perfect sense, because fair laws and courts make it expensive to practice racism, because people who break the law are faced with fines, civil damages and prison terms. Once fair laws and courts have been established, racists tend to "cool it." Once they stop abusing other people, their former victims begin to "cool down" also. Before long, all the people willing to obey the law can live together in relative peace while the people who choose not to obey the law increasingly end up in jail, or broke. While the system is not perfect, it has worked much better than the alternatives in the Deep South, Germany, South Africa and other racial "hot spots" around the world. Wherever fair laws and courts do not exist, the result is often racial violence on both sides, with the greater violence being on the part of the people in power (because the law and courts are slanted to favor them). This is clearly the case in Israel/Palestine today. As Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have pointed out, Palestinians have been subjected to a system of large-scale, systematic, grinding racism, injustice and apartheid.

But there is hope, if only we can persuade Israel to do what Americans, Germans and South Africans did: to establish racial justice. If we want peace through justice with the least amount of violence possible, the necessary first step is to establish fair laws and courts.

But how can this happen, you may asking. Sure, it makes perfect sense to say that fair laws and courts are required for peace through justice to take hold, but what can anyone do to encourage the people in power (the leaders of Israel) to do what Americans, Germans and South Africans did?

I'm glad you asked! I think the answer is surprisingly, deceptively simple. In fact, the solution can be stated in a single sentence:

We need a new U.N. resolution requiring Israel to unconditionally establish equal rights, fair laws and fair courts for every human being under its aegis, without exception; the courts should be subject to peer review by judges appointed by the UN, and they should be able to set legal precedents.

Any member nation of the U.N. can submit a new resolution, so we don't have to depend on Israeli or American politicians to "do the right thing." This is the beauty of my plan. Unfortunately to date the majority of Israeli and American politicians have only paid lip service to their stated ideals of equal rights, freedom, justice and self-determination for all human beings. Why? Because politicians are by nature political creatures whose greatest talent "lies" in getting elected (pun intended). They are much better at saying the right things, than at doing the right things. Doing the right things in the matter of the Palestinians would cost them votes and campaign contributions, so they do what is politically expedient, rather than what is right. But my idea (stated in bold above) takes this unfortunate political reality into account and operates through the UN, bypassing flighty politicians.

The key to positive change in the Middle East is a new U.N. resolution, backed by economic sanctions, that the U.S. government cannot veto. And how can the U.S. veto its own American Creed of equal rights, fair laws and fair courts for all human beings?

Only the U.S. Security Council veto has blocked past efforts by the U.N. to bring peace to the region. But how can the U.S. veto the American Creed of equal rights, fair laws and fair courts? So the key is a new U.N. resolution based on the American Creed.

If Israel complies with this new resolution, then peace through justice becomes possible, and fair courts can settle disputes over land and water "organically" over time, even if politicians can't agree to terms diplomatically.

If Israel does not comply with the new resolution, the U.N. can impose economic sanctions and in due course Israeli voters will "vote their pocketbooks" (a worldwide democratic phenomenon) and peacefully elect new leaders more amenable to peace through justice.

Yes, the problems are complex, but the correct path, the right path, is obvious. Fair laws and fair courts can settle disputes organically, over time, even if politicians cannot agree on what needs to be done. And while American  politicians may never voluntarily do the right thing, we really don’t need them. With a new U.N. resolution, American politicians won’t have to risk their jobs. The reform of Israel must come from within, just as did in the US. With my plan, one way or another the needed reforms will come. Hopefully Israel will see the "writing on the wall" and voluntarily choose to establish equal rights, fair laws and fair courts. But even if Israel has be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century (as many Americans had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century), the results will be the same. One way or another, every nation—in order to be considered civilized—has to establish equal rights and justice. Israel is not a "special case." The Jews are not a "special case." The Palestinians are not a "special case." And no, Americans, are not a "special case." Americans simply need to practice what they preach abroad, as well as at home. When they do, peace through justice will become possible, and when every nation has established fair laws and fair courts, world peace will become possible.

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