As you can read for yourself, whenever I tried to move the online discussion to how the parties can move toward peace, my correspondent wanted to stay on the war crimes of the Israelis and the need for them to be punished for their brutal behavior. I've heard something similar from Israelis when I argue with them about the need for them to withdraw from the Occupied Territories: "The Palestinians are brutal terrorists and can't be trusted; they must be taught a harsh lesson for their violent behavior." It's a closed blaming-loop that gets us nowhere.
I take two positives out of this debate. The first is that, even given the heat generated, my correspondent and I can talk in civil, respectful ways to each other. And the second is that both of us agree that Israel will have to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, and that unrelenting international pressure will be necessary to get to that stage. Those are good starting points for a serious negotiation. Israel wants security and recognition, Palestine wants a secure nation-state and an end to occupation. There is a pathway to peace there, if the will is there to find it and walk it to a peace treaty -- or, at the very least, to a long-lasting truce.
Who will take the first step? And who will help the warring parties take that first step? Perhaps, you, dear reader, have creative solutions worth considering. #
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, and has written numerous articles on the Middle East conflict (www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm#essays). A former writer/editor for two decades with the San Francisco Chronicle, he now serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: