Saturday, June 13, 2015

Israel and Palestine: one conflict, two wars

Unilateral disengagement from civilian occupation 

The intractable, seemingly unresolvable conflict between the warring Israelis and Palestinians is, of course, considerably more complex than the split emotions it evokes.

One side sees Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory as the source of all ills, and the other side will point at Palestinian denial of the Jewish state's right to exist as the insurmountable evil.

And sadly, both are right.

Israel's nearly fifty years of occupation of the West Bank (and previously of Gaza as well), however 'enlightened' that occupation may be considered, remains - occupation. Occupation of another people, preventing its independence and possibility of fulfilling its national aspirations, inevitably causes resistance from without, Intifada one and two …, and corruption from within. That is, an expansion of geo-political borders on the ground is accompanied by tighter security boundaries, and a loosening of internal ego-boundaries, such as those pertaining to social and political ethics.

And Palestinian rejection of the Jewish State, seeking its extinction rather than peaceful coexistence, digging tunnels of terror rather than bridges of reconciliation, makes even the most far reaching peace proposal futile, as happened in 2000 and 2006, when Arafat and Abbas rejected the agreements proposed by Barak and Olmert respectively.

When, all too rarely, there is progress in peace talks, it is counterbalanced by terror, and by settlement expansion. Likewise, stalemate between the sides is counter weighed by explosive undercurrents that await eruption.

I believe the two parallel wars – Israel’s war of occupation, and the Palestinians’ war to destroy Israel - need to be recognized, separated from each other, and dealt with differently. And the world community, which too easily gets excited when the gladiators tear each other asunder, needs to help carry the complexity, rather than take sides with either of the warring opponents, thus reinforcing the split-mindedness of the conflict.

From an Israeli perspective, I suggest the following steps to deal with the two wars:

1. Ensure security; which already is constantly on Israel’s agenda, and carried out – at a high price - with great efficiency;

2. Define a temporary border. In fact, the notorious security fence does this quite well; 9-13% of the West Bank remains west of the fence. That is, 87-90% of the West Bank remains outside the security fence, to establish a demilitarized Palestinian state with temporary, but near-complete borders.

© Shaul Arieli,
3. Separate between civilian and military occupation:
a. Withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the self-defined temporary border, and beyond the big settlement blocs; i.e., from close to 90% of the West Bank. Relocate the many small and scattered settlements - in which a minority of settlers reside, to inside the security fence, i.e., the self-defined, temporary but distinct border, preferably by offering compensation for voluntary relocation; 
b. Retain military occupation for security needs, but step by step, increase the territory handed over to Palestinian civilian authority – and eventually, as well, security control. Practical and creative solutions to ensure security cooperation can be provided – some are already implemented. Each limited territorial step, as part of a long range plan, should be accompanied by steps of mutuality, agreed upon by both sides. If no agreement, no military withdrawal, until security control can be transferred.

c. That is, unilateral civilian disengagement and withdrawal from occupied territories beyond the security fence, but negotiated step-by-step military withdrawal, with increased Palestinian security responsibility in those areas added to its sovereign territory.
4. Withdrawal from occupation, and geo-political arrangements are necessary to set concrete boundaries for each side’s national desires. In addition, both sides would need to do the in-depth psychological work on a collective basis regarding identity and collective fantasies. On the Israeli side it would entail, among other issues, surrendering a sense of ‘historical rights’ to realpolitik, and on the Palestinian side, issues such as transforming an identity of victimhood into self-reliance. In Israel, only a minority of the electorate – as opposed to a majority of the elected, still adhere and demand Greater Israel. The Palestinians, as well, will have to mourn giving up the fantasy of Greater Palestine, replacing Israel. The process of even minimal Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory must be accompanied by cessation of the horrendous incitement in Palestinian media, schools and mosques.

5. In the long run, in order to ensure viability, low-level yet confederative frameworks of cooperation, can be conducive, such as Gaza-Israel-West Bank/Palestinian Authority-Jordan. At some level, cooperative arrangements are already in place.

The critical issue at this time is withdrawal from civilian occupation beyond the big settlement blocs (located along the cease-fire lines), while incremental withdrawal from military occupation when agreements can be reached.

Erel Shalit

By Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book of the distinction between “The Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths”. We see this vividly demonstrated when we put Ari Shavit’s acclaimed new book My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel alongside Erel Shalit’s classic work, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel. The former takes us through the history of the heroic creation of Israel, including the darkest “shadow” behaviors of the Jewish state in the 1948 massacre of the Arabs of Lydda.

In the latter work, Erel Shalit tells us why.

This is no simplistic psychological analysis. The brilliance of this Israeli Jungian analyst is that he offers no easy solutions, plumbing the paradox of the necessary heroic identity of the Jewish state, and yet, around every corner is the shadow of every hero: the beggar, the frightened one, the part of all of us that is dependent on forces outside of our control.

It is also very important to note that Erel Shalit’s book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the inner workings of the soul. On one level Israel is the backdrop for the author to explore how shadow, myth, and projection work in all of us, regardless of our life circumstance, nationality, environment, or history. It even includes a comprehensive glossary of Jungian terms that has some of the best definitions I have ever encountered, and hence a find for readers new to Jung.

And, of course, for people who are fascinated by the scope and depth of the story of Israel, this is a simply great read. It stands alone, but read as a companion to Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, Erel Shalit’s Hero and His Shadow gives us The Spirit of the Depths in all its dimension. We may not be able to resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict, but we can learn many things from this brave, complex Israeli author, that we can apply to healing the inner and outer wars in our own lives.

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