Change Palestine! Movement and a Double Strategy top priority now
After many discussions with various local parties in Palestine, Israel and Jordan, WSN is promoting a new, simple, and doable master plan for the Holy Land, Palestine and Israel with a focus on two important pillars as necessary solid foundations of any peace initiative and treaty:
A Change Palestine! Movement with a new Obama-style leader is the top priority
For everyone who really wants peace in Palestine and for Israel, the top priority is to establish a forward-looking and credible new political democratic party for Palestine ("Change Palestine! Movement"), headed by a new Obama-style leader.
After presenting his program of change, he should first become Prime Minister, integrating new faces into the administration, and later winning the trust of the Palestine people with a rolling consensus. He may then be elected President and a true and respected majority leader of Palestine.
Not Hamas, nor Fatah: something new for the young frustrated majority.
Not a puppet of the U.S. nor Israel but a local leader supported at first by several Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE, and by the EU.
For this historic movement we need an independent Palestinian personality from outside, ideally a successful business leader who as a Palestinian patriot dedicates his life to this historic task. He must not be burned out by political struggles of the past, nor corrupt. He should be young, credible, eloquent, and courageous, should have political skills, and should work well with the media. A man of great character and soul, sharing the vision for a better democratic future for Palestine. No radical and no puppet, but a man of vision and wisdom.
I have met several Palestinians in exile who fit this description and could do a much better job for the suffering Palestine people than the old guard of Fatah or the young revolutionaries of Hamas.
The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was not because so many in Gaza loved them, but because too many hated the burned-out Fatah movement, with too much money stolen from the people in too many Swiss bank accounts. The people admired Hamas for their many small social activities.
Until now the Palestinian people have only had the choice between bad and worse - not bad and better - as there is no credible party to vote for.
This must change. The Palestinian people deserve better than a limited choice between corrupt and burned out politicians of fierce war-mongers.
Without such a new political party for Palestine every peace plan will fall apart like dust in the wind or melt away like snow in the sun. Any treaty will not be worth the paper signed. It will be a Fata(h) Morgana, based on sand and not on solid rocks.
Fatah cannot be reformed any more and will never get back its lost credibility. This rotten movement will not survive more than several weeks if its unofficial support by Israel (including intense intelligence operations, IDF presence with many military check points, the drain of militants by keeping several thousand of them locked in Israeli prisons) in the West Bank is withdrawn after a peace treaty. Its leadership has lost credibility and is seen as too corrupt and too close to Israel and the U.S. Fatah is the sinking star in Palestine. To base any peace treaty on them is harakiri.
Hamas may talk softer now for mere tactical reasons but in core and spirit it will always remain a totalitarian movement in Iranian fashion, dependent on its long-time relationship to that Shia regime and its brothers in Lebanon, the Hezbollah. You cannot reform Hamas into a soft democratic movement, as history has proven. As an example, one could never have reformed the Nazi movement in 1930's Germany where, in the bourgeois von Papen cabinet, Hitler was in a minority but quickly took control of everything. The strong political, military and economical right wing establishment in Germany thought it could control the Nazis. In the end Hitler and his totalitarian movement impeached them all, out-manoeuvred the strong establishment, neutralized and later even eliminated any opposition. The same happened with the Fatah minority in Gaza in 2005 and will happen again in the West Bank when Hamas has the opportunity to gain power there as well.
It is very naive to believe that merging Fatah and Hamas will produce something more than the total surrender of the more moderate to the hard core radicals. In the end, Hamas and Tehran will take over Gaza and the West Bank. Do Riyadh, Cairo and the Sunni states, the EU and Barack Obama want that? Wasn't the mismanagement of the prior Israeli withdrawal from Gaza a lesson learned?
Hamas can not be compared with the IRA in Northern Ireland, which was not a totalitarian movement. The IRA never had a larger totalitarian state behind them like Hamas with Iran. A simple copy of the peace process in Northern Ireland will fail. The same is true with the reconciliation process in South Africa as this struggle, as well, was not motivated by totalitarian thinking on the winning side (the democratic ANC).
Palestine needs a new credible force and a fascinating new personality to lead this young people to freedom, wealth and reconciliation with Israel. The Change Palestine! Movement should integrate several personalities from Fatah and Hamas and also imprisoned fighters but be able to keep full control of the armed forces, law and order and foreign affairs. It should become a catalyst of unity. It should learn from the great thinkers of the world like Albert Einstein, who preached that you cannot solve a problem on the level of thinking where you have created it, or the wisdom of Eric Hoffer who told that a war (of the Palestine people) is only won after you have turned your enemy (Israel) into your friend. It should establish a Palestine Truth and Reconciliation Commission - as was done so successfully under Bishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, and later in more than 20 other states - to start healing the wounds of the past and looking for reconciliation inside Palestine and with the people of Israel as well.
A new Double Strategy for Palestine and Israel
Another fundamental strategic mistake of Israel, the Palestine Authority, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, the EU and the US is that their peace plans and policies are focused on treaties and land for peace and do not implement an overall double strategy of power and reconciliation, hawk and dove. Exactly that is needed.
The Codes of Tolerance Project of the World Security Network Foundation (see details in www.codesoftolerance.com) digs deep into the foundations of peacemaking. It shows that with power and military means alone peace can not preserved. It enforces a new double strategy of power and reconciliation, soft and hard factors which are needed yet too often neglected. With its International Advisory Board including 16 former generals, the World Security Network knows much about the hard factors of peacemaking and therefore knows their limitations and the lack of planning and implementation of the soft factors with the same amount of funding and action as the military tools.
The so-called 'soft factors' are not soft but hard realities of peacemaking. Contrary to the beliefs of some security leaders, it is naive to think and plan war and peace in areas like the Middle East without them.
If you have no strategy, funding and promotion of the extremely important soft factors, and if you do not win the hearts and minds of the population, you must lose.
Israel's 60-year-old bunker mentality means it believes that security can be produced with military means and by destroying the military capabilities of its enemies. It is missing the core of peacemaking, to separate the overwhelming majority of the peace-loving Palestinians from the few radicals and to turn the Palestine people into friends and partners of Israel. This must become a serious aim of any credible Israeli security policy and a second pillar as important as the military means. This includes treating the Palestinians as partners in peace and not as enemies; not as second class citizens but as equals.
Where is Israel's reconciliation policy? Where are the leaders who dare to speak this truth? Where is the double strategy of uzi and olive branch?
Israel's policy toward its neighbours is lacking, perhaps fatally so, the common element in successful peace politics: reconciliation.
Israel needs, in the interests of its own survival, a new peace policy consisting of the "Uzi and the olive branch": a credible double strategy of reconciliation on the one hand, and deterrence through both military operations against terror organizations and conventional and nuclear weapons on the other.
The historical formula for Israel's survival, surrounded as it is by hostile countries and the threat of state-sponsored terrorism, is the "hawk plus dove". The hawk alone does not bring peace. The invasions in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza this year have proven this again.
In the next one hundred years, Israel will only be able to survive in its historic location, surrounded by a numerically superior enemy rich with petrodollars, if it places reconciliation with its Arab neighbours as conditio sine qua non of a genuine Israeli peace policy, and supports reconciliation with just as much energy, imagination, patience, and money as the necessary but insufficient military operations against terrorists. Israel needs a reconciliation offensive to supplement the necessary traditional military and power politics.
Only a genuine, interpersonal policy of reconciliation can instigate real peace in the Middle East and lay the foundation for eternal peace between Jews and Arabs, who already live well together in Israel.
Active power politics, be it the targeted killing of terrorists or the invasion of Gaza, only bring about a limited tactical advantage for several months, and not a lasting peace.
Power politics is the necessary complement to peace politics. Alone, however, it is insufficient for the security and peace.
In other words, Israel needs a new peace policy, which is credible externally, consisting of "a thinking heart" and a "loving mind". This was how the Catholic Archbishop of Opole, Alfons Nossol, described from experience the difficult reconciliation between Germans and Poles.
In Israel, the roots of this Olive Tree of Peace have long since been neglected due to understandable frustration and a bunker mentality influenced by Old Testament thinking ("eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth"). The Tribe of Israel's tree of peace has been dying slowly for many years.
To this end, Israel can draw on European "best practices". There, millions of people were driven from their homelands following WWII, including twelve million Germans in the East, among them my own parents. They were peacefully integrated into their new country and made lasting peace in Europe possible through reconciliation and the renunciation of violence and a return home.
To date, Israel and the U.S. lack any promising double strategy of power and reconciliation. Only through such a double strategy was NATO able to neutralize the threat of the Warsaw Pact. NATO's strategy was spelled out in the 1967 Harmel Report: a dual approach of defensive capability and détente. Only through the NATO double track decision of 12 December 1979 could the nuclear threat to Western Europe by Russian SS-20 rockets be eliminated through an arms build-up consisting of Pershing II and Cruise missiles and the offer of an arms control agreement, the so called Zero-Option. These were spectacular winning strategies on the part of the West in Europe towards an overwhelming threat. These strategies are also valid in the Middle East.
Palestine needs a fresh approach for peace as well. Needed is not only a new leader but a new elite. Palestine needs a new, younger leadership elite and dynamic personalities who take over political responsibilities.
This new elite must put forward a new, progressive design for a free Palestine. They should develop a counter-concept to the totalitarianism of the supposed Islamic dictators à la Hamas, who are not concerned with peace and the mercifulness of the Prophet, but rather naked power for themselves. Otherwise, Palestine will sink further into an orgy of violence and murder.
The Palestinians should make their way toward a modern, tolerant society with the help of a Marshall plan sponsored by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, the U.S., and the EU.
With suicide attacks and a few rockets from Gaza you can never defeat the Israel Defense Forces. Even threats from Tehran, including nuclear strikes, are not credible because Israel has more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy Iran several times over. Nuclear deterrence works and will work in the future well.
The Sunni Arab states, the EU and the new Obama administration must impeach the radicals in Palestine and Israel and establish a new political movement of change and progress and a double strategy of power and reconciliation. Only from this solid foundation can any peaceful solution for this troubled region work. Only after the forming of such a base can a real chance for a real peace plan and treaty arrive.
This should and could be a more balanced combination of Ehud Barak's proposals to Arafat in Camp David in 2000, and the initiative of Saudi Arabia, leading to peace for the Holy Land. It should include giving back 97 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, a neutral Old City of Jerusalem organized by the three World religions Islam, Judaism and Christianity under UN mandate - with East and West Jerusalem as capitals of Palestine and Israel, respectively - and a compensation for the Palestine refugees, with no right to return after 60 years like the 12 million Germans from the Eastern parts who were expelled in 1945 had to stay in the Western part of Germany and sacrificed their homes for peace with Poland.
This is not an utopia and is as likely as having a black American voted as U.S. President instead of a white war hero.
We know it can be done.
We have the network to do it.
We believe this is the only way to solve the problem at its root and to bring peace to the people of Palestine and Israel.
These two pillars must become the laser focus aim of the new Obama administration's policy, of Saudi Arabia's, and of the EU's. Everything else is secondary, cosmetic, and not core to peace making.