A Blog of the Global Justice Movement

Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part IV: What Was Missing

The proposal for an Abraham Federation makes a case against outdated land-for-peace proposals for negotiating future control over the Holy Land, as under the Oslo Agreement. It also makes a case on moral grounds that the recent rush to recognize a "Palestinian State" by the US State Department and many European leaders, though well-intentioned, is unlikely to achieve a lasting peace through justice for Palestinians, Israelis and other persons living in the disputed territories. Who wants to be a non-Jew in a "Jewish state," a non-Muslim in an "Islamic state," a non-Christian in a "Christian state" or, for that matter, a Jew in a "Palestinian state"?

On the other hand, past President Bush's call to the Palestinian people to select more democratically responsible leaders was a wise move. It bought some time for President Bush and his advisors to explore "Peace through Justice" strategies that had the potential to stir the hearts and minds of Palestinians as well as Israelis. Unfortunately, the initiative was allowed to peter out.  What is needed now is a much bolder vision to stop terrorism and bring all parties into a new framework to begin negotiating beyond zero-sum politics.

What was missing in past peace initiatives to bring justice and stability to the Holy Land? Are there different approaches to nation-building that could turn hate into hope and rage into creative outlets for those who see themselves victimized by Western military and financial might? Can the future be guided by the unifying moral values of the American Revolution and the redemptive spirit of such visionary world leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Anwar Sadat and Nelson Mandela? Is there a way for leaders like President Obama to harness the moral power of the West to begin to heal the wounds of perceived injustices and inspire the creation of a socio-economic model for sustaining peace through justice for all?

To address the previous questions, we should focus on whether "self-determination" and justice can be achieved for persons of all faiths and persuasions wanting to occupy the same land. How can this be done without Israel's jeopardizing its own security during the transition toward a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement? Once the Israeli military withdraws to the borders of Israel, what arrangements will secure the lives and rights of Jewish settlers who, for religious reasons, want to remain on the West Bank?

There is a way. The answer lies in a radically new and inclusionary model of nation-building, where economic justice would become the basis of social and political justice in the daily lives of each citizen. It would offer a modern fulfillment of the biblical concept of "Jubilee". (According to the Bible, the fiftieth year following seven seven-year periods was the "Year of Jubilee", or Sabbatical year, to be celebrated by the freeing of Hebrew slaves, the remission of debts and the restoration of ancestral property to its original owners. Encyclopedia Britannica) But instead of redistributing land, a finite resource, the new nation would redistribute future opportunities for every citizen to become an owner of land and whatever can be built upon the land. Under an "economic bill of rights" every citizen would gain equal access to future ownership opportunities, guaranteeing a level playing field in citizen participation as property owners in future economic growth and profit sharing.

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