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 is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

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.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. 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