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The Palestinian and Israeli Silver Lining
Last uploaded : Friday 28th Jan 2005 at 00:19
Contributed by : Barbra Cooper


This is an Awards for All article.

It is so clear that the conflict in the Middle East is between Israelis and Palestinians that it is hardly worth mentioning. The basis for monitoring the media, governments, the United Nations, academics and student groups among others for partiality toward one side or the other therefore is perfectly justified. Countless agencies in fact have spent millions of dollars uncovering hidden agendas of bias in all kinds of organizations. However, the lines of the Middle East conflict have been drawn for so long, society has forgotten to question whether they are relevant. While groups are neatly dismissed as pro or anti, Israeli or Palestinian, we use a system that divides by nationality, race and religion. The system contradicts the key tenet of Western societies to push past racial boundaries into the realm of thoughts, values and principles. The conflict is ideological at its core and it should be examined as such.

An ever-growing number of people believe a two state solution and democratic reform of the Palestinian Authority will solve the seemingly endless conflict. The group, which includes Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, Muslims and many other interested parties believes that Israelis have the right to security and that Palestinians have basic human rights not afforded under corrupt leadership. They stand in opposition to the fundamentalists that believe that Israel has no place in the region, the inflexible ideologues who insist the West Bank and Gaza should not be relinquished from Israeli control and those who choose terrorism, manipulation and corruption rather than honest dialogue, negotiation and compromise. They are in fact an ideological group. However, level-headed moderates from the Israeli or Palestinian sides as they are presently divided have not been identified and unified as a group. Unfortunately, their viewpoint has therefore been marginalized.

Not only is the current assignment of Palestinian side and Israeli side necessarily irrelevant, it is divisive and counterproductive. A tremendous effort is currently expended promoting both the pro-Israeli and the pro-Palestinian viewpoints. Promotion of one side can only be made at the expense of the other. Imagine if that effort was used more constructively, bridging the two, supposedly distinct enemies together.

If journalists, pundits and commentators continue to identify the conflict as simply one between Palestinian and Israelis, or pro-Palestinians and pro-Israel, a barrier is constructed and perpetuated that has no passage. Palestinians will not betray their own kind to join the Israeli side and vice versa. The impasse is unfortunately what has characterized the Middle East conflict for far too long.

The analytical division of the conflict ought to be the pro-Two State Solution group against the anti-Two State Solution collective. The division progresses past what has characterized the conflict for far too long: an oversimplified account of one ethnic or religious group against another.

The election of Mahmoud Abbas obviously presents a tremendous opportunity for progress. The potential for reform of the Palestinian Authority is unprecedented. The greater challenge however is in helping the Palestinian population see a future where the Zionist enemy can become a peaceful neighbour, a test that only the greatest leader can overcome. And, if the terminology for understanding the conflict is not revised, there will be no language to articulate compromise, agreement and peace.

It is time to divide the conflict along relevant, ideological lines of the pro-Two State Solution, pro-Peace and pro-Compromise group opposing the anti-Two State, pro-Violence and pro-Conflict factions. After all, if an ethnically, religiously and racially diverse a mix as the pro-Two State Solution group can reach consensus on the subject of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, there is promise that peace will reign there too one day.


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