MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Bridging the Divide: Must Read, Must Think - Book Review
Bridging the Divide: Peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,
If you are interested in peace or dialogue in the Middle East, Bridging the Divide is a must read. The title alone redeems this work. The authors' hearts are in the right place. The title makes it a much better book than Jimmy Carter's best-selling scribblings about Israeli "Apartheid" replete with mislabelled maps.
You won't buy a book because of its title, but the first chapter, by Edy Kaufman and Walid Salem, which chronicles the long history of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue efforts, is an essential resource. The only problem with it is that there is not enough of it. One would like to see a more detailed discussion of dialogue efforts that have been going on abroad as well, and a systematic discusson of various "Track II diplomacy" meetings that are mentioned in passing in various places in the book -- and others that were not mentioned. There are also important chapters by Tamar Hermann, a frank and peceptive joint chapter on Palestinian-Israeli activities by Mohammed Dajani and Gershon Baskin, and informative chapter by Menachem Klein and Riad Malki on Track II diplomacy that you won't want to miss, as well as other treats.
Riad Malki discusses the varieties of Track II diplomacy, pointing out the problem of definition that is bound to plague a new field, and also reminding us that it was the Israeli occupation in 1967 that made such contacts initially possible. Those who insist that the Israeli occupation was the beginning of the problem, should consider that it was in fact the beginning of the solution, and that the problem has a much longer history. The point about "Track II diplomacy," however, is that it is supposed to be unofficial and nonbinding. It is therefore revealing and disturbing that Malki complains that some of the supposedly information "Track II" Palestinian negotiators didn't know the official Palestinian policies and departed from them. Controlling the views of participants obviates the whole point of Track II diplomacy. No divide will be bridged if each side must stick to the official positions of their governments.
Bridging the Divide concludes with a handy appendix listing organizations involved in promoting Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
This book is not perfect. It suffers from the uneven-ness and lack of systematic coverage characteristic of many edited volumes. It is plagued by confusion over definitions of "civil society," so much so that we find one author insisting that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad are part of "civil society." Armed guerrila groups are not part of civil society of course, and they don't have anything to do with bridging the divide.
Many of the faults of this book reflect the faults and foibles of peace and dialogue efforts. It would be unthinkable to list an organization that denies the rights of Palestinian Arabs to self determination as a "peace" group, and there don't seem to be any such groups in the listing in this book. However, many of the organizations listed are anti-Zionist.
A book that is trying to bridge the divide should not engage either in fiction or in incitement. Muhammed Abu Nimer tells describes the violent confrontations that broke out in September of 2000 this way:
All of were were alive and sentient in the last six years, Dr. Abu Nimer. Anyone can know that Palestinian "nonviolent activities" began with throwing of large rocks from the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jewish worshippers. The "shooting" that you describe included daily machine gun fire on neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The "nonviolent activities" included suicide bombings in discotheques, pizza parlors and hotels. In the month of March 2002 alone, about 100 Israeli civilians were murdered in various suicide bombings and terror attacks. Do we need to list the "nonviolent activites" of the Palestinians? Here are but a few from the beginning of the "nonviolent" Intifada:
Remember that Joseph's tomb was supposed to safeguarded for Israeli access as a holy place, a solemn undertaking of the Palestinian Authority and a symbol of the peace. It was overrun by a Palestinian mob. Likewise the joint patrols were symbols of the peace. The Palestinian police are not members of unimportant fringe groups. Here are some of the "nonviolent activities" that led up to operation defensive shield:
. "Those are but a few of the "nonviolent activities" of the "small Palestinian factions" -- Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Fatah, PNA police.
As all the world should know by now, and as verified by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, about 56 people were killed by the IDF in Operation defensive shield, the majority of whom were "resistance" fighters engaged in more such "nonviolent activities." Among the documents found in the Palestinian authority offices were documentation of Palestinian Authority Treasury disbursals of funds for suicide bomber explosive vests, and pay orders for terrorists signed by Yasser Arafat. So what part of Abu-Nimer's description is anchored in reality? What is worse, is that Professor Abu Nimer thanks the editors and others for comments on his manuscript. Apparently, this was a "collective effort." How did this diabolical confabulation get into a book about peace and dialogue?
Repugnant as it is, one chapter and one or two assertions do not disqualify an entire book. Read the book, learn from it, think about the questions it raises. Learn also from the errors and absurdities in it, and hope that the authors do the same in the future.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000560.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
Replies: 2 comments
you must watch this video of israeli force hitting two terrorists on the night of 14.01.07
Posted by assa @ 01/21/2007 05:18 PM CST
"As all the world should know by now, and as verified by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, about 56 people were killed by the IDF in Operation defensive shield, the majority of whom were "resistance" fighters engaged in more such "nonviolent activities.""
56 people were killed in the whole operation or in Jenin?
Posted by Micha @ 01/28/2007 07:13 PM CST
Please do not leave notes for MidEastWeb editors here. Hyperlinks are not displayed. We may delete or abridge comments that are longer than 250 words, or consist entirely of material copied from other sources, and we shall delete comments with obscene or racist content or commercial advertisements. Comments should adhere to Mideastweb Guidelines . IPs of offenders will be banned.
[Previous entry: "Highlights of remarks made at Madrid +15: Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group, and former Foreign Minister of Australia"] Main Index [Next entry: "Syria and Israel: deniable peace non-negotiations"]
ALL PREVIOUS MidEastWeb Middle East LOG ENTRIES
Thank you for visiting MidEastWeb - Middle East.
If you like what you see here, tell others about the MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log - www.mideastweb.org/log/.
Editors' contributions are copyright by the authors and MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.
Please link to main article pages and tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Do not copy MidEastWeb materials to your Web Site. That is a violation of our copyright. Click for copyright policy.
MidEastWeb and the editors are not responsible for content of visitors' comments.
Please report any comments that are offensive or racist.
Editors can log in by clicking here