Ever-optimistic, the editors of the Christian Science Monitor see the green shoots of peace growing from the Arab Spring:
Perhaps the best model for Arab-Jewish reconciliation is a town in Israel dedicated to showing that the two nationalities can live together in a democratic way. It’s called Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, or the Hebrew and Arabic words for “oasis of peace.” (One in 6 Israelis is Arab.)
Formed more than three decades ago, the town has thrived with dozens of Jewish and Arab/Palestinian families living side by side in coexistence. They share a bilingual school and an ecumenical place to worship, and most of all, they’ve learned how to handle their respective fears during the many eruptions of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
As one of its community newsletters stated, “The families who live here have one objective in common – to prove that Jews and Arabs who dare to challenge the status quo of mutual fear can live together in peace.” (The town has a long waiting list for new families.)
The town also hosts a popular School for Peace, which has trained tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs to come to grips with each other’s “realities” through rigorous, guided dialogue. The school, like the town, is built on the premise that both Jews and Arabs have claims to land and neither side is going to win in a conflict. The only choice is to work out a peace.
Hamas and Israel will soon come to that same conclusion, at least in the form of another cease-fire. And Egypt, as a new democracy, will play a critical part. Permanent peace may be far off, but at least with the ongoing Arab Spring and in models of peace like one Israeli town, the roots of peace can grow.
Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood of which Egypt’s new president is a member. Will that encourage them to sue for peace or strengthen their resolve to remain on the path of war? Meanwhile, influential Israelis are openly proposing that if Gaza is just stomped flat enough, they’ll sue for peace. If Gaza is stomped flat enough, there will be no one left to sue for peace, a cruelly ironic final solution given the history of the state of Israel.
I find it hard to imagine a benign settlement of any conflict in which the most radical members on each side hold veto power.