Common Grounds

Excerpts … My Open Letters to Chancellor Angela Merkel and His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

October 24, 2016

The Times of Israel, AUGUST 19, 2016, 7:02 AM


By: Abraham A. van Kempen

The Hague, The Netherlands


Imagine, Madam Chancellor, the Israelis and the Palestinians in full reconciliation, living apart together, within one homeland inside two borderless states, rejoicing freedom of movement and the right of passage, sharing Jerusalem and the region not too different from the BENELUX countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), the forerunners of the open borders of the European Union (EU)? “Can we quietly Cross the Boundary of Life and Find New Meaning in Our Tangled Roots of Our Combined Histories,” a whisper of hope from American poet, Dario Robleto?

Destroy Your Enemies By Becoming Friends …


What if the Israelis rediscover themselves and build the Zion of my parents’ dreams, a heaven on earth, a Zion belonging to all of Abraham’s descendants, all of God’s children, the God of all mankind? In this light, they can and will destroy their enemies by becoming their friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship? In the collective memory of NEVER AGAIN, the Israeli credo so genetically encoded in their collective history and hysteria, can be changed from “we will fight to the end, if we must…” to “do what’s right” (Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan).


The excerpts above are the first two paragraphs of 18 more pages to go, the longest letter I’ve ever written except one to my father. Writing to Dr. Merkel was tough and challenging, almost grueling. I sweated through 10 drafts, spanning 11 weeks. That’s how long it took to round off the rough edges. It was a balancing act twirling on thin ice with a sword over my head hanging on a silk thread, striving to distil some bitter truths in kindness and with generosity.


Serendipitously, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Golan and Knesset Member Ms. Haneen Zoabi broke the ice. Their words opened the doors to, gently but firmly, touch on historical and hysterical taboos.


General Yair Golan: “On Holocaust Memorial Day, it is appropriate to discuss our own ability to uproot from our midst signs of intolerance, signs of violence, and self-destruction on the path toward moral deterioration”.


Knesset Member Ms. Haneen Zoabi: “The Holocaust obligates us not to be silent when racist laws are legislated, not to be silent when natives are exiled, not to be silent when their land and property is stolen, not to be silent when entire neighborhoods and entire families are bombed and wiped off the face of the earth, and not to be silent when political activists are put in administrative detention. …”


I honestly thought it was the best letter I’ve ever written until I completed my five-page letter to His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud several weeks later.  I suggested a number of steppingstones – the 8-Points EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative – to harvest new promises, to connect dots heretofore unthinkable and impassable; to break out of the box.


My question: “Your Majesty, … if Israel/Palestine returns to the pre-1967 borders (a big ‘if’) and if Israelis foster the return of the several million Palestinian refugees (a bigger ‘if’), including their children, grand children and great-grand children, to freely move, live and work inside the Israeli/Palestinian homeland, how could the Israelis and Palestinians be assured that this road towards peace would even become more peaceful”?


“Your Majesty, any peace accord, minus full reconciliation, will inevitably collapse … without incorporating the proposed ‘EU Complement’ to your Arab Peace Initiative, the wounds will only be temporarily soothed, letting the disease to stealthily spread and eventually erupt and explode again”.


The ‘8-Points EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative’ could serve as the catalytic game changer to forever stop any further cataclysmic calamities between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It sweetens the Arab Peace Initiative, a long awaited brew, like the Manna from Heaven.


“I’ve had a chance to review your materials and your 8-point plan”, says Ms. Cheri Maples from the US-based Center for Mindfulness and Justice. “I think it’s the best proposal I’ve seen — complete and fair to both sides with restorative justice built in.  I’m hoping that over here, the Democratic nominee for President, Secretary Hillary Clinton, will take your proposal to heart and support it. I will forward it to others”. 


The Building the Bridge Foundation, The Hague


Abraham A. van Kempen


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