A group of mourners arrived to express their condolences and support for the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was killed in revenge for the death of three Israeli teens. But they were not family or even friends – they weren’t necessarily welcome. They were Israelis reaching out to perform their own “Tikkun Olam”, or fixing the world. When asked if it was hard, one offered her reason for beig there. “Maybe,” she said. But, she added, “I think the peace will come from the people, not from our leaders.”
This may be more than just a gesture of grace. It may be the start of something bigger, something even more than the peace sought by the mourners. A lasting peace means a permanent arrangement that promotes peace – justice, order, respect, and cooperation. It may be different than anyone has contemplated in a long time.
The latest war in Gaza might be showing that the way forward isn’t what the world has been trying vainly to impose for a generation. As frustration grows with the dead-end hopes of peace, more and more people are looking for a different solution – one state, neither Israeli nor Palestinian but both together. It seems like a longshot, but the notion of two states is fading so rapidly that the “One State Solution” is looking more reasonable every day.
The latest conflict is about much more than the murder of three Israeli teens spun out of control by revenge killings. It escalated into mortar attacks out of Gaza largely because such action is a proven diversion from the simple fact that Hamas is largely incapable of governing – because of their own inability to organize, their lack of external support, and their desperate isolation by Israel all at once. Palestine, as a part of the “Two State Solution,” is fading fast.
There is also geography. Here is a map of territory under Palestinian control, nominal or otherwise, through the last century:
Without a functioning Palestine there is only chaos in the hunt for a Two State Solution. If anything, it’s starting to seem a lot like South Africa under Apartheid, when “homelands” were created for various African groups the white government wanted to isolate. That proposed solution collapsed there about the time it became the most touted solution for the Israel/Palestine situation.
Then again, the entire region is beginning to look like Europe during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). This was a period that is rarely taught adequately, but it is when Europe emerged from the Middle Ages and soaked itself in genocide and scorched earth, all in the name of religion. After the warriors exhausted the people and land, the solution at that time was the development of what became the “Nation State” as we know it. It took 300 years and much more blood before the obvious real solution, the extra-national European Union, moved forward.
That’s why there is a growing chorus for a new interest in the One State Solution. Even before this recent conflict, Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post wrote a book outlining why this may be the only way forward. Her reasoning? The main argument against a greater Israel that includes Arabic and other people in a pluralistic society is that Jews would would be outnumbered. That’s not true anymore. The population of Jews and their higher birthrate assures that they will be a majority for a long time, at least. As the only established force for security and order, Israel is the only viable option at the moment. The issues then become a matter of proper development of civil rights and free expression for the Arab minority.
That’s not a small matter, of course, but before this conflict a majority of Palestinian Arabs expressed a strong desire for peace and a continuation of the conflict only through peaceful, civil means. Only a tiny minority, 11%, expressed support for a true One State Solution, but they do exist.
With both “governments” flaring up the war it’s hard to imagine how this might work. But consider what some people, at least, are trying to do beyond their government’s launching of mortar fire or bullets. The only thing that can bring peace is a unity among the peaceful people on both sides, which has to grow and flourish despite the blood spilled all around them. It won’t be easy.
But if they can unite and work together to create peace, why should they then go their separate ways? The premise of the Two State Solution starts to seem illogical when mourners come to bridge the gaps that governments flare up in blood spilled in violence and blood rising in hatred. Only through unity can there be respect and justice. Only through respect and justice can there be peace. Achieving so much together would make a stronger foundation for a new nation, a new “Israel”, than just about any nation-state around today.
It starts with Tikkun Olam. Hopefully, it ends with a world that is fixed and healed. Such a world may be hard to imagine, but it also may be a lot different from what most imagine today.