Ha’aretz obtained an official report of the Israeli government that reveals for the first time the full details of the Occupation’s illegality. Even major settlements that are not considered illegal outposts turn out to have significant sections that are built on stolen, private Palestinian lands, by the account of the Israeli military that authored the report. This means that tens of thousands of Israelis, many of them actually unaware, are living on private Palestinian lands all over the West Bank. The details will be vital to any future negotiations, should Israel even be capable at this point of reversing the damage that has been done. Many were fooled into believing that these lands were open, available, and public. Read the report and comment. The truth is very painful for everyone to face, but it is only by knowing the whole truth of the situation that third parties can be helpful in moving the conflict in a less violent direction.

The hard question is what is to be done? Does Israel have any stomach for forcibly removing the hard core of the settler movement? As the picture below attests, even minor removals have pit Jew against Jew in ways that this people have not experienced in two thousand years. Yet, if they do not confront the settlers then Israel will have no choice but to become more and more of a fascist state like Avigdor Lieberman , the most powerful up and coming Israeli Russian politician, is pushing for. Alternatively, the Israelis could give up on the two state solution and welcome Palestinians as equal citizens, in a new post-Zionist era, that sees Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel in a secular democratic state as more important than a Jewish-majority state. A third possibility is to welcome a Palestinian state on the occupied lands but to admit a failure to be able to remove its citizens, with the Palestinians offering citizenship or expulsion to the settlers if they refuse to become law abiding citizens. Then it becomes an internal Palestinian and Jewish problem after the state is declared independent, with hopefully enticing packages to the more violent settlers to leave the land.

None of the options will work as long as there is a continued relationship of hatred and animosity between Israel and Palestinians, between Israel and the whole Arab world. But all the options have some merit if there is a renewed effort to struggle over these issues with diplomacy and nonviolent resistance of the variety that Gandhi and King exemplified. We need a moral/political revolution in which the Arab world and the West surround Israel with a nonviolent and enticing vision of the future. Gandhi and King succeeded because their absolute commitment to the welfare of their enemies de-legitimated the spoilers on all sides. We need this badly in the present context, a missing ingredient that is critical to Mitchell’s success. I know that this is a hard pill to swallow given the slaughter of innocents in Gaza. But Gandhi and King had to face outrageous injustices as well, injustices that would go unpunished for the most part. But they both kept their eyes on the prize, which was a way to restore the dignity and the rights of millions of deserving people, but to do so in a way in which they would not lose their souls or create an eternal cycle of revenge. They both succeeded. Surely we need a more balanced American intervention, but we also need the kind of spiritual strength of resistance and love that will see this through to a better world. It is not fair but it is the only way, because just as surely as the majority of Israelis have to learn that killing Arab children is a dastardly crime that will not make their own children any safer, so too those who oppose Israel must see that they cannot be changed by violence.

Jewish settlers in Conflict with the Israeli Army
Jewish settlers in Conflict with the Israeli Army
© Marc Gopin