Yesterday we gave a very broad overview of a solution we think Pope Francis and others ought to consider, the “Abraham Federation” as a way of defusing the situation in the Holy Land. Today we said we’d look at some of the specifics of the proposal, the “highlights,” as it were, so here goes. Again, be aware there might be some slight editing glitches, as the paper from which this is extracted has not been updated for a while, but the fundamentals are there:
|It's at least something to consider, Your Holiness.|
- First steps should start small, focusing on a relatively small territory over which no existing nation-state has yet declared its sovereignty, namely ancient Judea and Samaria and the Gaza strip. If the new nation succeeds, the beachhead, with its capital in the Old City of Jerusalem, will expand naturally. Neighboring countries in the region will seek to merge with the Abraham Federation and share the special benefits described below.
- To foster maximum growth opportunities for the citizens of the Abraham Federation, other countries in the Middle East, including Israel, and other major industrial nations such as the U.S., Japan and members of the European Community, would sign a multilateral agreement treating all the land in the Abraham Federation as a unique “global free market zone.” In contrast to most free trade zones often cesspools that attract sweatshop industries and exploited workers the Abraham Federation would in microcosm be a model for
- A global free trade system. Rather than merely providing special investment concessions and free access to goods imported into the zone, the global free market status would allow all goods and services exported from this unique zone to be sold within these cooperating countries with no duties, quotas, or other trade barriers. This feature alone, after security against terrorism is assured, would attract “leapfrog” technologies and accelerate new investment and job opportunities for the benefit of all producers, investors, worker-owners, suppliers and global customers. “Capital Homesteading” tax and credit incentives would add additional icing on the cake.
- A revolutionary advance over all existing nation-states would be formed. The new nation would reject collectivist and exclusionary concepts of nationalism and would carry the concept of sovereignty or “self-determination” down to the personal, family and community levels, an ideal implicit in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- The Abraham Federation would aim at bringing a higher order of justice than any nation has ever offered its citizens. It would offer acceptable safeguards to Israeli demands for security and guarantee the right of all Jews and Palestinians to visit and settle in the “Holy Land.” It would offer Palestinians “self-determination” and a religiously pluralistic “democratic state” that would insure everyone complete freedom of religion. It would also offer Jewish and Christian settlers the opportunity to become citizens of the Abraham Federation. It would be neither a collectivist Zionist state nor a collectivist Palestinian state, but a new form of nation that members of all faiths could build together.
- Politically, the new nation’s constitution would guarantee a Jeffersonian form of democracy, open to all, with clearly defined and limited functions given to government and all political institutions. In addition to normal democratic checks and balances on the “minimalist” government of the nation, the major check on future concentrations of power would be outside of government, based on “Capital Homesteading” policies and institutions that would systematically spread economic power and free enterprise ownership broadly, right down to the individual level.
|A Jeffersonian Democracy|
- Widespread diffusion of property would become the ultimate constitutional safeguard for all human rights. Although the new nation would have no “official” state religion, by systematically spreading property and economic power among its citizens, it would insure that freedom of religion, of association, of the press and other protections of individual human rights vis-à-vis the government would be built upon a solid economic foundation.
- Thus, the new nation would be built on a foundation of personal (as opposed to collective) political sovereignty, and that foundation would in turn rest on personal economic sovereignty. It would be a nation whose sovereignty is built from the ground up, rather than from the top down. Individual, family, community and minority rights would thus be protected from the potential abuses of political majorities or traditional power elites. In this way, religious freedom and cultural pluralism would have stronger economic supports than other world trouble spots that breed organized terrorism.
- During the transition to full self-determination, the Abraham Federation would have diplomatic ties to Israel, Jordan and other Arab neighbors. Initially, a UN trusteeship or multinational administrative structure might be required to govern the area as a global “Peace Zone,” with a timetable and measurable benchmarks for handing over all governmental functions to democratically elected representatives of all citizens of the Abraham Federation Arabs, Jews, Christians, and non-believers.
- Until the threat of suicide terrorism can be overcome, and to allay legitimate Israeli fears for the security and freedom of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, the Israeli military might have to be allowed temporarily to continue to patrol the Abraham Federation under UN observers. That Israeli presence could then be replaced, initially by a multinational UN security force and then by the Federation’s police, as the new political order creates stable conditions to remove Israeli security concerns.
- The initial thrust of the people of this newly emerging nation would be channeled more toward economic, than political, self-determination: It would strive to absorb the creative energies of Arabs, Jews, displaced Palestinians, Christians, and others moving to this new nation, and harness them into building a technologically advanced, dynamically growing and more just form of free enterprise economy than exists in all other nations.
- Free and open markets and respect for private property in the means of production would be basic pillars for further limiting the power of the state. Instead of redistributing existing property, the new role of the state would be to create a legal and policy environment to inspire and encourage the simultaneous creation of new property and new owners.
- Instead of continuing historic and legalistic disputes over something as finite as “holy land,” the primary focus would be on building upon the land the ever-expanding “technology frontier.”
- Start-up industries might include advanced energy projects and high technology, vertically integrated agribusinesses, and global processing and marketing enterprises that are broadly owned by workers and farmers.
As revolutionary as this new framework may appear to some, it is based on virtually universal moral principles. The process of change, however, is inescapably evolutionary and depends largely on conservative, case-tested methods and “tools.”
|A model for Costa Rica — or anywhere else.|
The “tools” and fundamental principles for building such a model “Capital Homesteading” nation already exist and have been tested. They work. (The Ministry of Planning of Costa Rica with U.S. development assistance designed a prototype “parallel legal system” structured along these lines. While not yet implemented, this model legislation could easily be adapted to any country.)
Because it is grounded on common and traditional principles of economic justice and social justice, orthodox Jews and moderate Muslims, as well as several PLO representatives, have reacted in an open-minded way to the Abraham Federation concept when it has been explained to them. Former Lebanese president Amin Gamayel told this author that it was consistent with the original vision for a religiously pluralistic Lebanon. A top advisor of King Abdullah II of Jordan also commented favorably on the concept.
The next step is to test whether the Abraham Federation framework might serve as a basis of a new dialogue between those with power to speak for all Israelis and those with power to speak for all Palestinians. The United States is in the position to be an effective catalyst for bringing this fresh vision to the peace table. This framework too may be inadequate and prove to be unworkable. But it certainly deserves to be more fully understood by all key decision-makers, especially spiritual leaders, concerned with peace in the Middle East.
Many nations are offering their “solutions” to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank. None of these initiatives seem to be satisfactory to both sides of the conflict. In that light, the Abraham Federation concept might well offer a more hopeful and workable framework for those directly affected to recapture the initiative, not merely for their own survival, but for leading all mankind to a more just and peaceful future.#30#