Correspondences World Leaders
Open letter to His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud: 'To Do That Which Has the Most Chance of Being Good for All Concerned’
The Hague, The Netherlands
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
Royal Court: 11-488-2222
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Greetings, dear King Salman bin Abdulaziz in the Name of All Who is Merciful, Gracious and Good; the God of Abraham, the God of all Muslims, Christians and Jews; the God of Adam and Eve, the God of all mankind; the God of all believers and unbelievers; the God of those who are lost in their ways. Your Majesty, 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? I have posed these same two questions to His Holiness Pope Francis.
Your proposed Arab Peace Initiative is like manna from Heaven, a noble pursuit with give and take toward reconciliation among believers in the one God. If Israel returns to the pre-1967 borders and if Israel fosters the return of the several million Palestinian refugees (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 the road towards peace would even become more peaceful? For so long, lights and shadows with moments of grief characterize the relationship among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Can we become one in the Spirit, to do that which has the most chance of being good for all concerned?
The Jew honors the Almighty as protector of the human person and as the God promulgating the promises of life. The Christian knows that God is love and expects mankind, created in His image, to manifest agape love. For the Muslim, God is good. He grants the believers His abundant mercy. Inspired by these convictions, Jews, Christians and Muslims reject the supposition that hatred threatens the earth; that endless wars continue to plague humanity; that mankind will destroy itself.
And yet, peace between our people remains a bridge too far unless we commit to building a bridge based on mutual trust. In all due respect to you, Your Majesty, and the esteemed leaders of the Arab League, the Arab Peace Initiative can take off only with maximum torque, at full throttle. The people of the Region must first overcome their fear (manifested as hatred) of the other. They are traumatized. Each and every day many relive and replay their traumas, which often are worse than their original nightmares.
Your Majesty, though I cannot fathom the feeling of anxiety inside their souls, I can empathize. Both my parents are products of War. My mother who is so kind, compassionate and loving could turn into a terror when she re-experiences a trauma of her past. The fears and anxiety creep into her being. She then transfers that ‘evil’ onto another person and makes herself and others believe that the evil she senses is in the other and has become the other; and, the other is to be feared and distrusted and dismissed as non-existent. My father who is by nature kind and open hearted has similar bouts of anxieties. At age 20 he served as Prisoner of War. Worse, he tries to forget the memory of my grandfather who was hauled from his office and dragged behind a truck to brutally and prematurely, on the open road, meet the face of God. Their traumas are passed on to the second generation. My brothers and sister, in different degrees, and so many other people everywhere, not just Jews and Palestinians, could benefit from a process of consciousness transformation to help spark their conscience to consider as first choice the ‘love of God’ rather than only ‘His wrath’.
Many work their hammer to forge steel, to shape something that lasts. Others pick up their hammer to shatter glass, to harm, injure and destroy. We are all challenged to choose either of these two options, day in and day out. Consciousness transformation, says Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of ‘Embracing Israel/Palestine’, “is about empowering our most loving, kind, and generous instincts, honoring the spiritual wisdom of our traditions (both religious and secular) that teach us that every human being on the planet is equally precious and deserving of well being and fulfillment. It is also about building political and economic arrangements that facilitate rather than undermine our capacity to care for each other across all religious, national and ethnic lines.”
During the long history of propaganda battles between Zionists and Palestinians, each community has perpetrated pain and suffering against the other. Rabbi Lerner continues: “both sides have made and continue to make terrible mistakes. Yet the choices of both sides are also understandable, given their perceptions of their own and the other’s situation. As long as each community clings to its own story, unable to acknowledge what is plausible in the story of the other side, peace will remain a distant hope.” Repeatedly rehearsing and nursing their hurts reflect the history and hysteria of their individual and collective traumas.
The first task is to heal the traumas and to commit to understanding each other. Jews did not return to their ancient homeland to oppress the Palestinian people. They fled from centuries of European oppression that culminated during the Holocaust. Palestinians did not resist the creation of a Jewish state out of hatred of the Jews. They feared European colonial expansion and presumed European Jews to be European colonists. Since then it went from bad to worse. The task is no longer a question of ‘who is right’ but to focus on building a path that will be best served for all, a path that embraces love, kindness, and a generosity of spirit. Can and will the Israelis and Palestinians destroy their enemy by becoming friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship?
Israelis and Palestinians must reclaim their guiding principles and fundamental beliefs derived from the Sacred Texts: “love your neighbor,” “love the stranger,” or “justice, justice shalt thou pursue”. Israel/Palestine is after all the Holy Land. The essence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam insists upon its adherents to trust their moral compass, synchronized with courage and imagination to envisage full acceptance of Israelis and Palestinians; Jews, Christians and Muslims (and not just in Israel/Palestine).
What if a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians respond to the higher calling of becoming a ‘light among nations’ (which President Abraham Lincoln refers to ‘seeking the better angels of our nature’) and act accordingly as responsible citizens in the community of men and women, especially among those they have hurt so much? They will want nothing more than a full reconciliation with their neighbors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both people will publicly apologize: “We recognize we can’t get away getting something for nothing … we realize we can’t get away with murder … let’s tear down the walls between us, share the land, and break bread together … and here is cash, earnest money, a compensatory resolve to seal the deal (precisely how Germany recompensed Jews and other victims following World War II)?”
As I have stated in my letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Any peace accord, minus full reconciliation, will inevitably collapse”. Your Majesty, 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. In deference to the long-standing resolutions declared by the United Nations, the European Union could join you to help building a bridge between the Israelis and the Palestinians together with the Arab League representing the greater region.
The European Compliment to the Arab Peace Initiative…
To be clear, we Europeans may only propose, not impose. What matters most is what the people in the Region want. So in the coming months, I’ll continue to pound on the EU leadership to step up to the plate, to challenge the Israelis and the Palestinians to converge toward a series of catalytic possibilities. The alternative can only result in more cataclysmic calamities. Sooner than later the people of Israel/ Palestine can and will be Living Apart Together, inside one Home Land within two borderless states, their only option.
Join others and me, Your Majesty, to shake the European leadership loose to take on their responsibility to help resolve a conflict we, Europeans, have created in the first place. To start, I want Europe to apologize to the people of Israel and to the people of Palestine. Being ‘more’ European than most, a dual national of the United Kingdom and of The Netherlands, born in the Middle East (on the SS Atlantis, British Ship, Red Sea), let me be among the first to say: “I am sorry what we’ve done to the Jews; I am sorry what we’ve done to the Palestinians.” I speak volumes, in silence.
Second, I propose that Europe measures the State of Palestine and the State of Israel according to one standard with fairness and equitability. One is not more or less than the other.
Third, I propose that Europe recognizes Israel and Palestine and treats both equally as de-facto NATO ‘affiliates’ so that neither may ever attack, invade, and occupy the other. Frankly, in practice, Israel already embraces de-facto NATO status. Iran will never officially attack Israel, despite the rhetoric and spin and fears perpetrated by and from all sides. Iran fears NATO, not Israel. Israel fears only Palestine, paradoxically two potential partners to carve out a better future for generations to come for all.
Fourth, I propose borderless boundaries or virtual borders, to facilitate freedom of movement and the right of passage for EVERYONE. Yes, with a Benelux-type structure one may freely cross the many divides in the region. Citizens of one country may freely work, travel and live in the other – i.e., Jewish settlements sited in Palestine –, but remain citizens in their own states. So, Israel remains Israel. Palestine remains Palestine. Jerusalem remains Jerusalem but everyone in the region may live and work where they please but vote only in his or her own country. This is nothing new. Is Europe a single federation or a union of individual nations? Both! Am I proposing a one-state solution or a two-state solution? Depending on the eye of the beholder, it could be either or both (see Petition ‘Living Apart Together’).
Fifth, I propose that the warring parties compensate the other for losses incurred because no one can get something for nothing. Invoke Europe to finance a EU-type Marshall Plan and lend the money to Israel and Palestine to compensate the other, proportionate to the degrees of harm done. Europe could replicate the same playbook used by the United States. Because the United States Treasury was under severe financial constraint immediately after World War II, the United States managed to monetize the Marshall Plan with a computer entry, now referred to as Quantitative Easing. The newly ‘printed money’ roused Europe with ‘hard currency’ without causing a Weimar-type hyperinflation. Similarly, Europe can help flush the Region of Israel and Palestine with cash for micro and macro development. Europe will especially benefit as the exclusive purveyor of all goods, products and services; supplier of all materials. That’s how Europe rescued the United States out of its economic slump that started in the mid 1920’s. Since the late 1940’s through the 1950’s we Europeans bought just about everything from the Americans, rebooting its manufacturing base and the humming of their plants. And today, we’re still the largest investors in the United States.
Sixth, I want justice because no one can get away with murder. Should we hang Netanyahu like Sadam? After all what Sadam did to the Kurds, Netanyahu did to the Palestinians.
Seventh, I could live with and would prefer an Act of Reconciliation similar to the one in South Africa under the tenets ‘live, let live’ rather than ‘kill, get killed’; and, ‘forgive in order to forget’, a fundamental economic principle, and a precious lesson in life.
Eighth, I propose that the people in the Region vote to temporarily (perhaps for five years) demilitarize the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian Defense Forces (PDF) as a condition to enable Europe to guarantee security for all Israelis and all Palestinians with heavily equipped NATO troops wearing white helmets, costs to be proportionately defrayed among the Israelis and Palestinians derived from new-found revenues as a result of the new capital infused by Europe in the Region. From the beginning, the IDF have been a destabilizing factor. Their aims, often portrayed as Divinely inspired, depicted with the best of intentions, have turned out to be counterproductive for the greater good of the Region and the world.
No Room for Superfluities…
What I’ve just outlined above is a takeoff at full throttle, with no room for superfluities. At the end of the runway, there’s no turning back. And once you’ve reached optimal altitude, you’ve got to keep yourself in balance. Make sure you can foresee and forestall inevitable turbulence.
But first comes first. The Arab League together with the European Union must invest an estimated EU 100 million to finance the work of thousands of Peace Corp Professionals to help the people of Israel/Palestine to believe in their own self-esteem as well as the worthiness and goodness of the other. Thereafter, the people of Israel/Palestine must reason first within their own respective communities and then externally with the other to create the critical paths toward consummating peace. Then they can live and prosper together in peace.
Change, not chains, is inescapably inevitable. It can happen in one generation. After 1945, it took one generation for Europeans to finally welcome Jews into the world community (though at the expense of the Arabs in Palestine). I have seen first hand the miracle of China. In the mid ‘70s there were hardly any cars in Peking. In one generation China has leapfrogged into the 21st Century with characteristic gridlock on the many thoroughfares in present day Beijing. In the United States, one generation struggled and won to humanize civil rights, expanding the socio-economic landscape of America.
Let’s start fresh and anew. The timing is opportune. We need stability in the Region. If peace is possible there, it is possible everywhere. And now Your Majesty, a blessing to you: May the Most On High bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you! And may Allah, with all His mercies, give you His peace in your going out and in your coming in, in your lying down and in your rising up, in your labor and in your leisure, in your laughter and in your tears... Until you come to stand before Him on that day in which there is no sunset and no dawning. (Adapted from the late Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Founder Crystal Cathedral Ministries, Garden Grove, CA)
With every good wish to you, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, I remain,
BUILDING THE BRIDGE FOUNDATION, THE NETHERLANDS
Abraham A. van Kempen
Please read my article Revere the Stranger … The Shared Calamity (https://buildingthebridge.eu/common-ground/general/revere-the-stranger-the-shared-calamity/120) which has reached more than 30,000 people on Facebook in one week with more to come
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