The dream of peace | AspenTimes.com

The dream of peace

Dear Editor:

The notion that the Arab mentality has to be changed for peace is so out of step with the times. The Palestinian Authority has accepted Israel and wants to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2009. The Arab League (22 countries) has said, in a policy resolution that we will “normalize” relations with Israel if Israel will make peace with the Palestinians. Does Israel still harbor the dream of a “Greater Israel” from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River?

I refuse to call this a conflict: It’s a war! And it has been since 1948. That’s why civilians are legitimate targets. Civilian deaths of Palestinians are five for one vs. Israelis. Dresden, Germany, was firebombed by Britain and America for 48 hours in W.W.II. No military targets. Result: 100,000 killed and one-third were children.

As a Jew I am saddened that the oppressed have become the oppressors. I recently spoke to a retired Israeli general. He said you can’t imagine the stress our young soldiers experience at the 300 check points. They try to help, but while trained, they are frightened teenagers. More babies are born at check points than hospitals. He “resigned” when he advocated a sharp reduction in check points. The government said no.

I wonder at times if Israel has history books. The Jews fought for and achieved a state from 1945 to 1948 by being terrorists. They killed British soldiers, blew up bridges, they even blew up the King David Hotel … killing 80 – mostly Jews and some children. When Israel got its independence, those terrorists were called “Freedom Fighters.” Why shouldn’t the oppressed Palestinians fight for their independence?

Why can’t Israel say clearly what it wants for peace, what she will give for peace and its own definition of security? Madeleine Albright said, “they can’t agree on anything.” Not true – 60 percent of Israelis support the Two-State solution. But, what does that mean?

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A year and a half ago I met with the two NGOs who worked on the Geneva Initiative – a peace agreement negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians who have been in the peace process. I offered $1 million to complete “Geneva” in the utmost detail. That document, when completed, the size of the Los Angeles telephone book, may go public by year’s end, if there’s an Israeli government in place … which may not happen until next May.

It’s a Regional Peace Plan. It says to the Palestinians and members of the Arab League this is what we want, this is what we will give and here’s our definition of security. Then meet 24/7, and using the RPP as a “roadmap” and reach an agreement.

You have to have a “dream,” or it will never come to life. Here’s my dream. There’s a very large conference table appearing out of the midst. Israel is sitting in the middle. Around the table are 23 nations and the state of Palestine. Peace agreements are being signed; ambassadors are being ex-charged; DNZ with international troops were needed; cultural exchanges, trade agreements, mutual defense pacts, etc. – meaning all that’s needed for a real peace.

Also, a “Marshall Plan” of $1 billion in loans and grants for the Palestinians, unemployment payments (maybe $10 per month) for the unemployed head of household. Let them see an immediate peace bonus. I was in South Africa last fall and I saw a new democracy in action. It was so successful, I felt like taking Israelis and Palestinians to see peace in action. Yes, I know there are problems, but look at the overall success.

How will the “dream” be achieved? There are people of goodwill, but they never had a vehicle to express it. Now there is. A Regional Peace Plan, with security. Israel said in 1967 they would trade land for Peace. Syria has said for many years “return the Golan Heights and we will sign a Peace Agreement like Egypt and Jordan.” This would get Syria out of the Iran orbit.

There is a new (5 month old) PAC that is pro-Israel and pro-peace. AIPAC has a military agenda, but not a peace agenda. I wonder why. Israel’s best security is peace.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Richard C. Goodwin

Snowmass Village

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