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There is a future for Palestinians and Israelis
By Ray Hanania
The surprise rise of Yair Lapid’s “There is a Future” Party in Israel, which galvanized the dormant peace movement to rise to a major political victory in Israel’s elections should remind everyone that “hope” never dies. It merely sleeps.
In the past 17 years since the collapse of the peace movement as a result of an Israeli fanatic’s murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, it has been a difficult struggle to sustain hope.
Peace has come and gone and one of the biggest contributors to the failure of peace has been the growth of the Israeli right, a fanatic coalition of racists, haters, extremists and even violence led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the one person who more than anyone benefited from Rabin’s murder.
In elections this week in Israel, Lapid’s coalition of the Centrists under the ennobling banner of “There is a Future” cobbled together the remains of hope and awakened the sleeping giant in Israel – moderates in Israel who support peace but had lost hope.
This former Israeli peace movement was moping in despair along with the Palestinians as everyday brought new challenges and surprises that undermined the dream of achieving a final peace between each other that would end the violence and allow both to build their nations. Israel and Palestine.
Extremists in Israel and Palestine exploited this despondency. They encouraged violence when it was strategically needed to beat down hope. They fueled the fanaticism and rage that sustained popular anger to make reasoned thought impossible. The extremists in Israel and Palestine have always been the best equipped and readied to stand up and pull the rug out from under hope and thus prevent peace.
But while Netanyahu has been the primary beneficiary of Rabin’s assassination by a settler fanatic, Yair Lapid is the inheritor of Rabin’s legacy. In the face of despair and overwhelming odds, his election achievements are a victory. Not the final victory but a first step in redirecting the people of Israel back to the real prize, peace.
If Israelis can return to the mindset that peace is possible and that two-states based on fair compromise resulting in a secure Israel State and an independent and sovereign Palestine State, then Palestinians must rise up from their own despondency and fight for peace, too.
Lapid did it. The Palestinians can do it.
Lapid needs the help of the Palestinians. Israel’s Arab population accounts for a mere 12 seats in the 120 seat Parliament, the Knesset. Their existence has been difficult given the rising hatred from Netanyahu’s partners, like the evil Avigdor Lieberman.
Haneen Zoabi, the contentious Arab Knesset member who has become the face of the Palestinian Israelis, needs to stand up and do what Lapid has done.
It does not mean Israelis or Palestinians must compromise their principles. We can both embrace our historical narratives, as long as we also embrace the reality that what has happened in the past can no longer be.
Ms. Zoabi can continue to fight for justice for the Palestinians without denying Israel existence, and even using the phrase “right to exist.” We both have a right to exist and one right cannot exist without the other right.
The Palestinians must step up to the plate and clearly and loudly articulate in their demand for freedom and independence and statehood an acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State with a minority population. That embrace would reflect the same for Palestinians, a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority.
Palestinians cannot give up on hope or on peace. The Palestinian moderates have been on vacation these past few years, speaking out only in anger and grievance. But bow it is time to put aside the destructive criticism and instead embrace constructive actions that will free us both.
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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