Yalla Peace: Maybe Palestinians, Israelis need a break from each other

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Maybe Palestinians, Israelis need a break from each other

By RAY HANANIA03/20/2012 23:34

Yalla Peace: The anti-normalization movement is really
a movement of hatred that actively seeks negative contact.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Palestinians and Israelis didn’t have to deal with each other anymore? At least for maybe the next decade?

The idea would be to separate the two sides and give each autonomy, with no direct contact whatsoever. Of course, given the dynamics of the situation, both sides might want this but only Israel has the power to make it happen.

Why doesn’t Israel just impose a solution? Well, a lot of Palestinians don’t like that idea and many Israelis don’t think it would work. But I am not convinced Israel’s leaders really want a resolution of the conflict that is based on compromise.

I think they want all of the land, not just Israel, Jerusalem and large chunks of the West Bank, that they refer to as “Judea and Samaria.”

Calling the West Bank Judea and Samaria is the equivalent – another word the Israelis love and hate – of calling Israel the “Zionist entity.” It’s offensive to Palestinians, just as Zionist entity is offensive to Israelis.

But separation seems to be the only realistic option that could result in a genuine peace, based on, well, apathy. I came to that conclusion after wasting a lot of time on an email list populated by Israelis and Palestinians brought together by the idea of “confederation.” The organizers of the idea are well-intentioned but it seems that the majority of the group is divided between Palestinians who despise and are angry with Israelis and Israelis who despise and are angry with Palestinians.

Neither side has anything nice to say about the other. In fact, I’ve noticed a significant drop in the “nice factor” over the past few years on both sides. Israelis and Palestinians are just not nice to each other. Seems that when Israelis write about Palestinians, it’s usually all about blaming the Palestinians for everything.

Same for when Palestinians write about Israelis.

The absence of a solution to the conflict has created a blame lifestyle. We just blame each other. We never accept responsibility for anything. Just blame, blame, blame. It’s depressing.

I have the feeling that most Israelis can live with the current situation of apprehensiveness but control. Israelis are in more control of the situation than Palestinians.

Not complete control, of course.

But just enough that they can make themselves feel like they have a semblance of a normal life.

It creates kind of a “conflict boredom”; when conflict becomes the norm, it becomes boring. Uneventful. Kind of like not newsworthy. News is defined by something new. What’s “new” about the current situation between Palestinians and Israelis? The ongoing sporadic instances of violence are not new at all, but rather have become a familiar pattern.

Over and over again flashes of violence spark emotional outrage from both sides, like the recent violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

It’s not new. It’s a broken record, playing over and over and over again. No one likes repetitive annoyance, which probably more than any other phrase best describes the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis today.

So, since we can’t seem to come together around a table to say nice things to each other, or even pretend that we like each other, why not just separate us? Build the damn wall, but remove all Israeli presence from the Palestinian side of that wall. Give Palestinians access to the rest of the world.

They don’t have to go to Israel – most can’t go there anyway, including to the so-called “open city of Jerusalem,” which isn’t so open to most Palestinians. None of the Palestinians I know, including all of my relatives, are allowed to go to Jerusalem, where our family is from. It seems like a moral crime, but what isn’t these days in Palestinian-Israeli relations? Let’s just ignore each other the way the rich ignore the poor and homeless they pass on the street as they shop for luxuries, enjoy fancy restaurants or stroll along the magnificent miles of municipal opulence. Just walk past each other.

Don’t say hi. Don’t nod in a courteous greeting. Don’t make eye contact. Just focus on yourself.

Of course that would mean Israel would have to step away from the Palestinians and the territories and focus only on their settlements.

Maybe in a few years we might learnt to stop hating each other. Maybe we might start learning how to see each other as human beings instead of as monsters. Maybe we will never come together at all. And that wouldn’t be so bad compared to what coming together usually means these days – all violence, death, destruction, hatred and blame.

This isn’t another way to oppose normalization.

The anti-normalization movement is really a movement of hatred that actively seeks negative contact.

My idea would prohibit any form of contact.

Hey. It’s just one idea. I can’t think of anything else that hasn’t already been tried. Can you?

The writer is a Palestinian American radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania