(This article was written in collaboration with Aziz Abu Sarah, Co-Executive Director of The Center for World Religions Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.)
Ever since the disastrous split in Palestinian leadership of several years ago into Fatah and Hamas it has become clear that disunity has been a critical factor standing in the way of Palestinian statehood. Many reconciliation efforts, with several third parties, were attempted and aborted. This time it seems that things are different, despite the enormous ideological divisions and outstanding grievances between Fatah and Hamas.
Why is this happening now? Clearly, the historic impact of the “Arab Spring” on Egypt and Syria, and across the region, is an enormous game changer. The increasing instability of Syria suggests that there is a strong possibility that A) Hamas may no longer have a stable home in Syria, but, on the other hand, Palestinians now have a much more sympathetic …
Recent sputterings of a peace process between Israel and Palestine, the termination of Israel’s settlement building freeze causing a demise of said peace process — again — has produced a loud, global yawn. What else is new in this endless conflict? Negotiations cannot succeed without a vision, and there is no widely shared vision of peace among these people that could truly spur their politicians forward.
The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of the past that create brutal behavior in the present. One way forward may be to suspend skepticism for just a moment, to free the mind to build a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved. Armed with this imaginative exercise it might become easier to lobby for practical ways forward.
Let’s imagine the following: official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza
Folks, many of you may have seen this, but we have friends in the world who cannot directly access the Jerusalem Post piece. So here it is. Lauren is an amazing interviewer. She interviewed me for nine hours, longest interview of my life:
By LAUREN GELFOND FELDINGER
This week, Orthodox American rabbi Marc Gopin saw his coexistence work in Syria bear fruit. What turns a Soloveitchik disciple into an unofficial diplomat to the Arab…Somewhere between the shtetls of Eastern Europe and sites across the Levant, Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, 52, has found his calling.
Heading the George Mason University Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in Arlington, Virginia, he is not waiting for a peace treaty to cause change. Gopin gets on a plane and heads for trouble spots wherever he can find openings. He meets with sheikhs, heads of state …
Iran threat pushing Arabs closer to normalization with Israel
By Akiva Eldar
…Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa notes that peace is not a light bulb easily switched on, but admits that the Arabs have made public-relations blunders. “An Israeli might be forgiven for thinking that every Muslim voice is raised in hatred,” he writes, “because that is usually the only one he hears. Just as an Arab might be forgiven for thinking every Israeli wants the destruction of every Palestinian.” Khalifa urges the Arabs to communicate directly with the Israelis and tell them their story.
If Olmert’s defense of the settlements was grist for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mill, the Bahraini prince’s call for normalization made Obama’s weekend. The start of normalization between the nations is a key item on the president’s agenda. It’s the undertone intended to ease the creation of a blueprint for a final-status agreement.
(Originally published at Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, in a very good issue dedicated to Iran. It will give you a good overview of thinking in the American Jewish community right now on the slowly moving crisis with Iran)
Over the past 25 years I’ve developed relationships across the Middle East; in Syria, specifically, over the past five years. While I traveled as a peacemaker, to be cautious I would emphasize my role as a professor and only reveal my role as a rabbi when it felt safe. I never experienced any negative comments because I am a rabbi; rather I heard from some a longing to meet with old Jewish friends. Experiences with Syrians have given me confidence that similar inroads can be made in Iran. What Iran shares with Syria, most importantly, is a historical tradition of religious pluralism and progressive religious thinking. There is still …
We held a good discussion, heavily attended, at the Wilson Center, together with Dr. Robert Pastor and Mr. Leo Kramer on Gaza and Hamas. Here is the video of the event. All of us were in agreement about the need for serious engagement with whoever is in charge of Gaza. This was decidedly different than other opinions also expressed at the Wilson Center by Robert Satloff and Ephraim Inbar.
It is hard to know what is really going on right now behind the scenes in relations between the United States, Israel, the PA/Fatah and Hamas. Whatever can lead to breakthroughs in my mind is the path forward. Whether it be on prisoner exchange, release of Barghouti who by all statistics could become a unifying leader of Palestine, or a way to break the inhumane blockade. I remain dubious about forcing Hamas to concede to conditions in advance rather …
Aaron Miller writes an extremely pessimistic piece of advice for President elect Obama on the impossibility of Israeli/Palestinian peace right now. I think that it is a very well written piece, and that anything Aaron writes should be studied carefully. But there are two responses that should soften his pessimism.
There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are “this close” (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.
The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The
Donna Bryson reports in the Boston Globe today that Mugabe has accepted an arrangement in which Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition movement, will become Prime Minister with a variety of important responsibilities.
Protesters in Johannesburg demonstrated yesterday against Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, whose role has been a major sticking point in the contentious power-sharing talks. (jerome delay/Associated Press)
Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the Mugabe era’s destruction of Zimbabwe, and perhaps this is an important milestone for President Mbeki of South Africa who has been brokering this deal in person all week.
Tsvangirai said compromise is necessary because Zimbabweans would reject a deal “if any party is greedy.”
“We have agreed that Mr. Mugabe will be president whilst I become prime minister,” he told the SADC ministers. “We envisage that the prime minister must chair the Cabinet and be responsible for the formulation, execution and