About the Logo: The View Points logo shows a gestalt illusion that may be familiar to many readers. Sometimes it looks like a vase, sometimes it looks like two people talking. It all depends on your point of view and expectations. We can all agree that both perceptions are valid.
This is what View Points is all about!
Peace in the Middle East through Dialogue and Rapprochement
Hosted by Ami Isseroff
I am proud to be a founding member of MidEast Web for Coexistence
Your contributions and comments are welcome. You are also invited to join PEACE and to receive PeaceWatch and the Peace Dialog Forum.
Through dialogue we will build understanding. From understanding will come a recognition of our common interests.
Based on common interests we will build a common program for action.
“If you will, it is no legend!”
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Like you, I live in this beloved, arid, bloody piece of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert, part of which is called Jordan, part Palestine and part Israel. The part I live in is called Israel.
There is no future here for any of us unless we can live in peace and mutual respect. There can be a very bright future in Palestine/Israel for both nations, if we turn our energies to cooperation and constructive enterprise.
If we continue to turn our energies to conquest, hate, terror, confrontation and repression of other people we will destroy each other and ourselves. Anybody who thinks that one side can overcome the other is probably deluded. Even if it were possible, it would produce a warped society among the “victors.”
Some people believe that the solution must begin with political actions by governments: the Israeli government must do thus and such, the Palestinians must do thus and such. But the political peace process is stalled.
Part of the solution must be an act in the hearts and minds of people, a dialogue between neighbors to demonstrate to each other that we want peace, and to gain a common ground for discussion and constructive effort. It is easier to share land, resources and holy places with neighbors than it is with enemies. I believe we will only have peace when we put peace first, before justice, before holy places, before land, before security.
From peace can flow prosperity, security and a measure of justice for both sides. Without peace, we have none of these things.
There are other Israelis and other Palestinians who think as I do; hopefully there are many others. We are trying to reach people who want to advance the cause of peace through dialog and common action.
If we can draw together a number of people who are willing to engage in constructive dialogue, we will have a modest beginning. If we can all agree to come forward in support of peace, we can become a unique political force that cannot be ignored as “propaganda” by leadership on both sides.
Every person living in the Middle East must decide if they want to try to solve our problems through constructive action and dialog, or if they want to be a part of the problem.
Violence and hate will only lead to more violence and hate. Dialog and discussion are not quick solutions – it takes a long time to build, and only a second to destroy. Our way will not bring quick results, but it is the only way that will work. If we are persistent, we will convince one person, and then another.
Like water on a stone we will wear away at the hate and fear that characterize our region. This is the only way we will have peace, and having peace is the only way we will be able to survive: we and our children and their children.
To join our group – and subscribe to PeaceWatch and the PEACE dialog forum, or to get more information, please write to ami_iss@ netvision.net.il.
Thank you, Sincerely, Ami Isseroff D.Sc. Rehovoth, Israel
March 2, 1998
1. The PEACE group is dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through dialog and joint action of citizens of all countries in the region.
2. PEACE is not affiliated with any government or political organization, and will not allow itself to be used to advance partisan causes.
3. Peace is in the best interests of all parties to the Mid-East conflict, and should be given priority in national agendas.
4. Peace can only be achieved and maintained if the desire for peace is rooted in the hearts and minds of all inhabitants of our region. It must be based on equality, mutual respect, neighborly friendship and consideration for the needs of all parties to the conflict.
5. Members of PEACE will adhere to the principles of intellectual honesty and respect for other members at all times in conducting dialogs.
6. Members of PEACE work to promote contacts between individuals, and act as citizens to persuade their own leaders to advance the cause of peace.
7. PEACE will consider any means of advancing peace suggested by members.
8. Each member has the right to act on their own in any manner they see fit. No member shall act on behalf of PEACE or in the name of PEACE without consulting other members.
9. Membership in PEACE is open to any person who subscribes to the above principles and who is willing to engage in constructive dialog and action to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.
As a service to propandists, I submit an all purpose essay, explaining the justice of the cause of any side in almost any conflict.
Just substitute the correct national names for ‘Our People’ and ‘The Enemy’ and you have instant hate, a product that is sure to be popular around the world.
Shalom/Salamat to all, A.I.
Our People and the Enemy
Our people have always had a great attachment for The Land, which is holy to us, and has been holy throughout our history. We have been fighting these many years a great struggle for justice against The Enemy, who began by attacking us without provocation. The enemy does not hesitate to spread all kinds of lies and exagerations about Our People. But the fact is, that it is The Enemy who has acted inhumanely, murdering innocent civilians without cause and depriving our people of our rights whenever they had the chance. We have hundreds of memorials to our martyred dead, and commemorations of the massacres and atrocities committed by the enemy. These facts are certainly borne out by history, and stem from the undemocratic nature of their society and the twisted nature of their ideology. For our part, we have always treated the enemy fairly. Of course, there were exceptions to the rule, but we cannot all be held responsible for the behavior of a few extremists.
We are a peaceful people. No people wants peace more than us. Peace is a prime tenet of our religion and we are enjoined to keep the peace by our Holy Book. But when our homes, our women and our children are threatened by the greedy and bloodthirsty acts of the enemy, we must defend ourselves and fight for justice. How can we possibly make peace with people who want to destroy us and take our land?
Personally, my family has suffered greatly at the hands of the enemy. Before I could make peace, I would have to think of the sacrifices made by my brother and uncle, killed in an unjustifiable action of the enemy, and what they would have wanted. We could not let their deaths go unavenged.
By the blood of our holy martyrs, we swear that with the help of God, who is certainly on our side, and Justice, the right-hand of God, we will continue the struggle against the enemy until they agree to live with us on our terms – the terms of justice. Then we will have peace.
Signed The Self-Righteous ones for a Just and Lasting Peace
This letter was sent May 25 1998 by participants in the PEACE dialog and friends. If you agree – please write to the President, the Secretary of State and other officials. We will only have peace when both sides recognize each other’s rights.
Dear Mr. President and First Lady, Mrs. Clinton recently said that she believes the Mid-East peace process should culminate in the formation of a Palestinian state. As friends of the peace process, we applaud that statement and hope that it will be adopted as the official policy of the United States.
While providing for the security of Israel and commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Mid-East conflict, the Oslo Declaration of Principles also provides for recognition of “mutual legitimate and political rights” by the parties. The fairest and most reasonable interpretation of that wording is that the Palestinians are entitled to a viable and independent state, just as the Israelis are.
In keeping with the principle of mutuality, a corollary of declaration of support for a Palestinian state must be that the Palestinian state has no territorial claims within the borders of Israel defined by the 1949 armistice lines, and undertakes to respect the sovereignty and independence of the State of Israel and to live in peace with it.
The peace process cannot succeed without the commitment of both parties to a peaceful solution. As long as it appears that the peace process will result in perpetuation of the refugee camps and a dependent autonomous status instead of statehood, the misery and frustration of the Palestinians are fertile breeding grounds for terrorist organizations and for the kind of violent demonstrations we witnessed recently. Without a genuine hope for a better future, there is no reason to expect the Palestinians to abandon the struggle to attain, by whatever means, what they consider to be their legitimate rights. Without such hope, no amount of repression and police action will eradicate terror. Thus, a fair solution for the Palestinians is an essential ingredient in Israeli security as well.
We take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing efforts for peace in our region, and to encourage you to continue in this task that is so vitally important to all those living here.
Ami Isseroff, Rehovoth, Israel
Ameen Hannoun, Amman, Jordan
Anita Abu-Daya, Philadelphia, PA USA
Ada Aharoni, Haifa, Israel
Uri Avnery, Tel Aviv Israel
Phillip Clement, Hamburg, Germany
Andrew Deutsch, Nofim, Israel
Seri Gomberg, Jerusalem, Israel & S.F, CA USA
Michael J. Jaffre Cairo, Egypt
Murray Kleiner, Jerusalem, Israel
Guy Koretz, Salt Lake City, Utah
Eric Lee, Kibbutz Ein Dor, Israel
Peter Liatowitsch, Basle, Switzerland
P’nina Levin Ra’anana, Israel
Larry Paul, Kfar Saba Israel
Rami Neudorfer, Tel Aviv, Israel
Robert Rosenberg, Tel Aviv, Israel
Simon Rosenblum, Toronto, Canada
Members of the PEACE Dialog Group and friends. The PEACE group is a joint endeavor of Arabs and Israelis for promoting peace through dialog and joint action.
cc: Hilary Clinton; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Vice President Al Gore, Chairman Yasser Arafat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Ehud Barak
Abraham Lincoln is said to have hosted a dinner for former Confederates in the short time after the war before he died. In the receiving line he greeted them warmly. and a Northern woman came through and said, “Mr. President, These are your enemies. You shouldn’t invite them to dinner, you should destroy them.”
Lincoln smiled and replied, “Madam, don’t I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
(Contributed by Len Traubman)
To me, the quest for peace and coexistence with our neighbors is an integral part of Zionism. I support peace because I am a Zionist. The longing to be a ‘Free people in our own country’ is incompatible with the ‘ideal’ presented by settler Zionism, of ruling over another people in a bantustan-like autonomy.
This view of Zionism may not suit some Israelis. But it is the kind of Zionism that built Israel. The Zionism that dreamed of a society based on justice, a society that could live in peace with its neighbors, and be a good example for the nations of the world.
This is not the Zionism advocated in Hebron today. It was the Zionism I was raised on, and it remains the Zionism of a few foolish people in Israel; but Zionism always was the ideology of a few foolish people. The majority of European Jews derided the crazy Zionist dreamers or damned them as heretics.
If we can make peace with our neighbors, Israel will conquer the hearts of the entire world. This is a much “Greater Israel” than the one that could be built by military conquest, settlement and creation of new enemies. If we cannot make peace, there will probably not be any Israel, sooner or later; if you do not make peace, you must fight wars. If you fight enough wars, eventually you lose one. And even if we were to win all the wars, we would still have lost the war for justice, if we fight wars in order to take away other people’s land.
This is not a hypothetical philosophical discussion. Settler Zionism has been rapidly eroding our society. This should have been apparent to everyone after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. Clearly, Yigal Amir, the assassin, may have acted alone, but he was not alone in his views. There were many who justify what he did, and many more who have continued in the same path. They advocate one law for Palestinians and a different law for Jews. And when that fails, they take the law into their own hands. A society based on conquest and lawlessness cannot be a healthy society for us. If we do not want the dream of Zionism to become a xenophobic and chauvinistic nightmare, we have no choice but the path of peace.
Every country and people in the Middle East has a number of commemorative days. Mostly they commemorate bad memories: the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, holocaust day, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, Black September…
A day each year that is dedicated to peace would be a symbol of hope. It would be an occasion for governments and leaders to speak out and act for peace. It could be a day on which all nations in this region are at least for one brief moment – united in a common hope and a common goal.
If you think this is a good idea, write to your leaders. If we can get people thinking about it, we have sent a message about peace. If we can make it happen in one country, we have made a start. If we can make it happen in Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt, we will put peace on the public agenda.
I suggest March 21 – The first day of Spring.
In memory of all those who have lost their lives in the Mid-East conflict. The innocent civilians on both sides, and the innocent civilians dressed as soldiers. The men, the boys, the women and the children. There shall be no justice for them, for there is no justice for the dead.
We, the living, must honor their memories by making peace, so that their sacrifice might not be in vain.
Let us go about the business of making peace with the systematic planning, the tenacity, the devotion and willingness to sacrifice of those who go to war.
I was born in the United States to Palestinian Jewish parents and came to Israel in 1969. I worked on kibbutz, studied neurobiology, worked at the Weizmann Institute and eventually became a free lance software consultant and technical writer.
About View Points
The View Points site is a project of the PEACE group. The PEACE group was started by my Jordanian friend Ameen and myself to further the cause of peace in the Middle East through dialog, common action and neighborly interaction. It is open to anyone of any age, nationality sex and occupation, though residents of the Middle East are most especially welcome.
Nobody living in this part of the world can afford to just sit back and give peace a chance. We have to devote ourselves to the task and make it work.