My Turn: My personal Middle East peace plan

DANIEL A. BROWN

DANIEL A. BROWN

By DANIEL A. BROWN

Published: 05-19-2024 1:52 PM

 

Seeing that the Israelis and the Palestinians are stuck with each other, it’s time for my comprehensive peace plan. None of the following is particularly original or realistic, but it sure beats the endless cycle of fratricidal violence between these two dysfunctional Middle Eastern tribes. I hope it inspires your own suggestions.

Let’s start with the most obvious and contentious. Make Jerusalem an international city governed by a neutral party (thank you, Tom Clancy) which guarantees religious freedom and the protection of holy sites for all residents. This neutral entity can be the International Red Cross, the United Nations, the Girl Scouts or Taylor Swift for all I care, as long as they are not involved with any warring group.

End the occupation of the West Bank and remove all Jewish settlements from there. Compensate the settlers but give their structures to the Palestinian people whose land they illegally appropriated. Create a viable Palestine Authority government free from corruption that earns the trust of the people.

Help Israel and the new Palestinian homeland to achieve financial and cultural interdependence so both can prosper from the other. In this case, capitalism is a good thing because money talks even if it occasionally swears (thank you, Mr. Zimmerman.) Mandate that Arabic and Hebrew be part of the school curricula in both nations.

Israel adopts a constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all of its citizens, while adding an amendment for the separation of church and state. This will keep religion out of politics and prevent religious extremists from making governmental policy.

Impeach Benjamin Netanyahu and hold him accountable for war crimes perpetrated in Gaza. Put Hamas’ leadership on international trial for the rape and murder they committed on Oct. 7.

Israel is recognized by all Arab nations in the Middle East who then form a NATO-like alliance with it that outlaws violent terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthi. Iran is isolated until its extremist clerics recognize Israel as the legitimate entity it always has been.

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Palestinians give up their desired “right of return” to claim their former homes in Israel (any white American whining about this is required to give their home to a Native American and return to Europe.) Israel, however, pays reparations to Palestine of $7.5 billion, which equals in current dollars what West Germany paid in reparations to Israel in 1955. This can be distributed to individual families or used to create schools, hospitals, community centers, scholarships and businesses.

The Gulf States use their vast oil resources to rebuild Gaza and work with Israel and the United States to create an entity that will one day attract foreign investment and tourism. Japan and Germany rose from the ashes to become energetic and dynamic nations. So can Gaza.

If, after five years, Israel and its neighbors are at peace, Israel reduces its military expenditures to equal the combined GDP percentage of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Military aid from the United States is conditional on Israel honoring its treaties with the Palestinian and Arab nations.

One might say, “Good luck with that.” Indeed, I have no doubt that such initiatives will meet vicious resistance and unleash waves of violence from all quarters, but it will be far less than what the Palestinians and Israelis have inflicted on each other for the past 76 years.

Here, I would require that colleges and universities give a mandatory history course on the Middle East taught by reputable professors who aren’t corrupted by ideological prejudices. Teach-ins that give equal time and respect to all sides of the nuanced, complex and long-lasting history of Israel and Palestine would also be encouraged. Those college students who passionately demonstrated to “Free Palestine” will be encouraged to spend a semester abroad in Palestine and Israel to further their education.

Advice I would give to local residents who have been affected by this maddening conflict. One can learn a great deal about a nation by being there. I’ve been to Israel twice, once in 1977 when it was a more rugged Middle Eastern country and again in 1999 where I stayed with a Palestinian family I had met through the late Paula Green who had dedicated her life to bringing rival adversaries together.

I began my series of editorials last October about “Tomorrow’s Women,” an organization based in Santa Fe that annually brings Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls together to learn peacemaking skills. But more importantly, to listen to each other. A practice we could all emulate, including myself.

Daniel A. Brown lived in Franklin County for 44 years and is a frequent contributor to the Recorder. He lives outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, Lisa and dog, Cody.