Imagining Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Instead of dwelling on technical details, borders and other nonsense we must strive for conciliation and acceptance, a process that begins at imagining a joint future on this tiny piece of land.

Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv
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Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv

In order to create something, you first have to imagine it, to describe in words the world you want to create. Only then can you build it with deeds. Just ask God.

Therefore, if we, both Palestinians and Israelis, truly and sincerely want to make peace with one another, we must first of all imagine what it will be like.

We must imagine how we would like to see that peace. First of all, we must describe that peace in words; only then can we begin to draft it with agreements and lines drawn on maps.

Just imagine, for example, in another 12 or 27 or 40 years, the joint Memorial Day for the fallen of the wars of the past between our two nations.

At the very same moment, a two-minute siren will be heard in the streets of Tel Aviv, Nablus, Be’er Sheva and Ramallah.

The sons and daughters of both nations – irrespective of where the border will be – will all stop their cars, emerge and stand silently – Jews with kippot, Arabs with kaffiyehs, young Israelis and Palestinians, standing side by side – on roads, in schools and in public institutions, during those two minutes of silence in memory of the fallen of both nations.

If you, we, they (call yourselves and them whatever you like), don’t want to or are incapable of imagining this painful, beautiful, moment, the epitome of conciliation and acceptance, then we lack both any hope or way to reach peace and any future, together or separately.

Instead of striving for conciliation and acceptance, instead of imagining a joint future on this tiny piece of land, instead of creating that peace, each time we do meet we dwell on technical details, borders, formulas and other nonsense.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century, spent an entire generation – 27 years – in prison under South Africa’s oppressive, white regime.

When he was released from prison and was finally called upon to lead his nation, to take the reins of power and to make peace between the downtrodden blacks and the whites who had oppressed them, he spent not even one second on seeking revenge for the sins of the past or on figuring out exactly who did what to whom and why.

Instead, he just looked straight ahead – toward the shared future of that land’s two races, and he created a deep, broad process of national conciliation and acceptance.

We must do the same here, because it is the only option. Not obsessing over who inflicted more suffering on whom, nor trying to reach an agreement that will guarantee either side more land or less water, as if we don’t live on the same land and drink the same water.

Nor should we draw lines demarcating where they can sit on a weekday, on which hills they can plant olive trees and we fig trees, when we or they can travel, or when and where they can go to the shore, and to which beaches.

That’s all nonsense. It’s all the same land, the same earth, the same trees and the same fruit. And the same roads, the same hills, the same sea.

It is all inseparable, just as we are inseparable, and the location and the color of the borders don’t matter one fig.

Anyone who cannot look straight ahead, who always look backward instead - again, ask God – turns into a pillar of salt. His future will be the same as the past that he pines for - a dark future of endless death and killing.

West Bank separation fence. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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