The Great Debate
Is Springtime On the Horizon?
By Abraham A. Kempen, Editor
Will millions of like-minded and unlike-minded people deploy their pens to achieve what matters most, to upstage each achievement with the next …
My friends and relatives ask: “How did you get yourself into the business of bridge building? “To keep busy”, I respond. The Israeli and Palestinian Quest to Peacefully Coexist is a prayer without end.” And, indeed, I have become so busy; I’m too busy to work, now that I’m retired. I love what I’m doing. But I uphold a higher purpose: I want Israel to survive; I want Palestine to be Palestine. Neither can exist without the other. Both must reconcile with each other. Neither can get away with murder nor can either get something for nothing. Both are presently on the path of self-destruction. “Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable,” says Secretary of State John Kerry.I cannot be more long-winded and as persuasive. Their only choice: build the bridge and come together.
Believe me, I’d rather be sailing or snorkeling or just having a good time, sipping coffee with friends, sitting in one café while getting ready to rush to the next; my core business, since I retired. Life is to enjoy. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threw a monkey wrench into my priorities. And I told him so: “I hold you personally responsible for jolting me out of my retirement. You’re to blame. I was in the region when Israel went on a killing spree last summer. My reaction: ‘Not again? … NEVER AGAIN!’ And so …” I made it clear to the Prime Minister that I will confront him with the Means, Methods and Mechanism for Many to Move Mountains, destined to become the biggest letter writing campaign in the history of mankind for “people everywhere … to ‘Say YES’, yes to having Europe (NATO) and the United States hold you and the Palestinians by the hand to once and for all settle the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle to Reach Peaceful Coexistence.”
To President Mahmoud Abbas I basically said the same thing but in a different tone: “Right now it would be presumptuous to even suggest: ‘Help is on the way.’ But I promise you, the people at www.buildingthebridge.eu (in the air since yesterday) are going out of their way to mobilize the leadership of the European Union together with the United States to, once and for all, help you effectuate a comprehensive sustainable peace settlement.”
My first paragraph addressed to President Barack H. Obama started with: “The ‘Sadness Silence Can’t Touch,’ as so eloquently expressed by the American Poet, Dario Robleto, has got to be the defining feud of our time, the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle for Co-existence. … Instead of heading toward an American Indian model, with Palestinians on reservations amid a sea of Israeli settlements and security zones, why not open borders with freedom of movement? Mr. President, many people around the world would like to hear you say: ‘Mr. Netanyahu, tear down those walls’.”
The President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Junker, received a mouthful from me, five pages: “Europe, Mr. President, can and must effectuate a positive change in the Middle East. We are bigger than the economies of the United States and China combined. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the most formidable military alliance the world has ever seen. If we’re going to make a difference in the Middle East, we must gain the respect of all the people in the Middle East.”
And, finally, my one-page letter to His Holiness Pope Francis focuses on: “Can you, will you help create safe and imaginative spaces for grappling with the hard questions of our times? Can you, will you help mediate to help bring the many voices of all sides into constructive conversations with each other, especially conversations among unlike-minded and perhaps even unlikely people? … Your Holiness, Papa Roma, can you, will you help guide us through the dark tunnels of the 21st Century, to help change our ways, to help usher God’s Plan for Mankind, to walk the path in the footsteps of Abraham, toward light?”
What am I asking the rest of the world to do, particularly the men and women on both sides of the Divide, in the Region and in the Diaspora? Lay down your arms! Pick up your pen and use it as your sword! What is happening – dispossession, displacement, confiscation, servitude, bondage, terrorism, including state terror – cannot go on much longer. As I stated to President Obama: “Despite Israel’s lethal arsenal, it goes against Israel’s collective conscience to sentence the Palestinians to a Final Solution. There is good in the Israeli character. For many, certainly for my mother, the concentration camp has also been a breeding ground for compassion and tolerance. So, another Holocaust, especially on shared soil, is out of the question. Can we ‘Quietly Cross the Boundary of Life and Find New Meaning in Our Tangled Roots of Our Combined Histories’?” (Dario Robleto)
And have you noticed? Europe is now stepping up to the plate; and why not? My article, ‘A European Agenda to the World’s Stage’ suggests: “We Europeans now know more than ever before about walking the tightrope, forging consensus among dozens of nations, balancing the need to regulate and supervise cross-border interactions while recognizing the interests and culture of each individual country. These are precisely the skills that the vast majority of the Israelis and the Palestinians crave, to bring them together around their common interests and challenges … European democracies foster inclusiveness, participation, political debate, multiparty representation and majoritarian policy based on a consensus of viewpoints and broad public support.”
The United States, on the other hand, is stuck in its ruts. Washington rules with one foot in the stirrup, the other in the sand. The Founding Fathers have firmly grounded ‘gridlock’ into the United States Constitution. President Barack H. Obama knows this unique American anomaly all too well. The best thing he has done vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian Quest to Peacefully Coexist is passing on the baton to the European Community. “After all,” as I ended my one-page letter to the President: “if a policy hasn’t worked for 66 years, isn’t it time to change?”
And now Europe must help end a conflict it has started. “Mr. President,” is how I started my letter to President Jean-Claude Juncker, “what would you want to do if you could do anything that you could do to work towards a paradigm shift in the Israeli – Palestinian struggle towards peaceful coexistence? How could Europe forestall the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to recruit young Palestinians, especially from Jordan but also from all over the Middle East and the Global Diaspora, to regain their land and dignity from Israel?”
Who am I to invoke the most powerful to move mountains? By now many know I am ‘more’ European than most Europeans. I am born an Englishman and a Nederlander. I am also of Jewish descent though I look Kama’aina (Hawaiian) with, inescapably (through forefathers I have never met), some Muslim blood flowing through my veins. I, too, have a spiritual connection to the land. The region is my home, born on the Red Sea on a British Ship of Dutch parents. Inside my soul and within all of my being, I am attached to the splendor of its many colors, their tints and hues. I really do not know how to explain my love and deep devotion to the land, but I understand implicitly and intuitively why neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis will ever leave.
Is springtime on the horizon? Yes, inescapably so! The bridge of deliverance, from bondage and fear to freedom and trust is foreseeable, if not unavoidable, like the parting of the sea. Deploy your pen! Make a way out of no way! Within the seeds of your past lies the future. You have thoughts. You have vision. You have ideas. You have the capacity within you to create the world anew, turning to one another. You’re sitting on a ringside seat, witnessing a worldwide battle of ideas over what kind of approach is likely to deliver the greatest benefit to the majority of the people on all sides of the Divide.
My ideas might not be your ideas and vice versa and that’s O.K. Do you agree or disagree that we should implore Europe to treat Israel and Palestine according to ONE standard? My final paragraph to President Mahmoud Abbas reads: “…invoke Europe to treat the State of Palestine as a de facto NATO member, similar to Israel. Israel is in fact a de facto NATO member. As soon as the State of Palestine is treated as an ex officio de facto NATO member, neither state may ever again attack the other.”
As of 29 February 2016 there is but one Petition registered on www.buildingthebridge.eu. Mine! Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree or if you prefer to propose a better approach, start your own petition.
In short, through the Strength of MANY, in the spirit of true democracy, we intend to persuade the European Union to guarantee authentic security for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine. Sooner than later all can constructively be Living Apart Together in peace.
So when you click on www.buildingthebridge.eu, remember it’s YOUR tool, YOUR website, to:
- Write and publish your open letters to the world leaders (in three clicks) and become part of the dialogue.
- Sign one or all (future) petitions and add your voice to the Strength of Many.
- Start Your Own Petition and take charge in the competition of ideas.
- Review the live stream of news feeds in real time from Israel, from Palestine and from around the world, a global perspective, about Israel and about Palestine.
- And, feel free to add your blogs, columns or articles to our Voices of Wisdom; and, of course, do read and comment on all of them.
Peace making is a mission that starts at the finish line. It never ends. Real and sustainable peace begins in the mind and heart, in the will and soul because peace arises out of genuine appreciation and respect for the other.
Peace is a conscious decision to improve relations and to do everything possible to overcome tensions and misunderstandings and, if possible, even to become friends.
Peace is the fruit of love. It is give and take.
Circumstances often hinder the full development of human dreams. Nonetheless, those dreams always remain open to accomplish great ideals.
Nothing and no one can prevent us from achieving noble ideals, except ourselves.
Seek the better angels of our nature. Get ready. Spring is in the air.
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