Page 18 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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After 20 years of feeling despondent
about, and demoralized by, this situation,
I am becoming more optimistic about a
organized by the Interfaith Peace-Build-
ers, I found the situation for all parties
unimaginably worse.
Continuous Traumatic
Stress Disorder
With determination, hard work and
U.S. assistance, today Israelis enjoy a
prosperous economy, high standard of
living and a strong military. By contrast,
Palestinians have one of the lowest per
capita incomes in the world and a small
police force, lack an efective government
and have no military.
In terms of confict resolution, neither
the Israeli nor the Palestinian strategy
is succeeding. Both sides live their lives
in a continuous state of Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder—except there is no “post”
in this confict. It is
stress disorder: CTSD.
Israel appears to be stuck in victim-
hood, a perpetually defensive posture
even though the country has the 22nd-
highest gross domestic product per capita
in the world (ahead of New Zealand,
Finland, Denmark and Ireland) and
is thought to have the 11th-strongest
military in the world. For its part, the Pal-
estinian “government” can hardly be said
to govern, but the people work equally
hard to remain “steadfast” to preserve
what little remains for them in inhumane,
intolerable conditions.
As an American citizen, I have come
to see eforts to resolve the Palestinian-
Israeli confict as my obligation, since my
tax dollars and my government are help-
ing to support it. From what I have seen
over the years, I am convinced that the
confict could have been resolved years
ago were it not for U.S. intervention.
Our role has escalated and prolonged
the agony of both peoples by providing
Israel with funds and military equipment
that not only free up resources to build
settlements and walls but deploy military
equipment against civilian populations
in Lebanon and Gaza, violating both U.S.
and international law.
Causes for Hope
So why, after 20 years of feeling
despondent and demoralized by this situ-
ation, do I now suddenly have hope for
the future?
First, from what I’ve seen over the
past decade, the Palestinian people have
developed some nonviolent strate-
gies that are beginning to have positive
impact. An excellent example is the
West Bank village of Bil’in, where the
Israeli-built wall took away 50 percent of
the town’s farmland. When the people
of Bil’in took their case to the Israeli
Supreme Court, it ruled that the wall
needed to be moved to give the farmers
access to their land.
Tat was fve years ago and the ruling
still has not been implemented. So every
Friday, the people of Bil’in have orga-
nized nonviolent protests. Tese dem-
onstrations include Palestinians, Israelis
and people from around the world and
use art, song, dance, theater and poetry.
But they usually end the same way, with
the Israelis using tear gas and rubber
bullets against the protesters. As a con-
sequence of the townspeople’s activism,
almost nightly Bil’in sufers raids, arrests
and beatings by the IDF.
But today most of my hope emanates
from outside Israel and Palestine. In
mid-August 2009, for example, Bil’in was
visited by the Elders. Organized by former
South African President Nelson Mandela,
this distinguished group of former world
leaders have pledged their collective
infuence and experience to build peace
and to address the major causes of suf-
fering in the world. Tese human rights
champions—Mandela, Desmond Tutu,
Gro Brundtland, Jimmy and Rosalind
Carter, Mary Robinson, Martti Ahtisaari
and Ela Bhatt—came to recognize the
nonviolent eforts of the people of Bil’in
and to bring international attention to the
I am also encouraged that interna-
tional civil society has taken a strong role
in working to end the Israeli-Palestinian
confict. Organized in response to a call
made by the Palestinian National Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions Committee,
BDS programs and networks of resistance
against the occupation are multiplying
around the world
Several European Union countries
are boycotting Israeli products, and there
have been reports of produce rotting on
shelves. In 2010 the Israeli Manufacturers
Association reported a 21-percent drop in
demand due to boycotts.
Some European and international
unions have become involved in BDS, as
well. Several large investors, including the
Norwegian government, have divested
from the Africa-Israel frm owned by Lev
Leviev that constructs settlements in the
West Bank in violation of international
But the organization with possibly the