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Foundations for Peace

Eighth in the Making Peace series

Is Peace Worth the Price?

Copyright © 2001 Dorian Scott Cole

The case of the reluctant mistress and the jilted lover

As I write this, December 2, 2001, terrorists are winning in the Middle East. Suicide bombers have struck an Israeli mall and an Israeli bus, killing many and injuring over a hundred. It was payback time for Israel having killed some long-sought terrorist leaders. Israel is now making noises about retaliating. Tit for tat, tit for tat.

I don't have access to information, so I can't make accusations. All I can do is raise questions. Israel divorced her terrorist lover shortly after Terrorists, fundamentalists, are absolutists.

Furthermore, the Israelis have proclaimed that they will not negotiate peace until they have experienced at least a week of peace. The US echos this, saying that security for individuals must preceed peace. Interesting, because the plan of terrorists is simple. Assert their will, draw attention to their cause, and accomplish their goals by disrupting others through fear. All it takes is one small but dedicated group, and there are too many to count in the Middle East. If the process stops to wait for the violence to stop, the terrorists win. If the process stops to hunt down terrorists and bring them to justice, the terrorists win. The terrorist presence confuses the issue. Who is making peace with who? Israel is not making peace with terrorists - this will never happen, and should not. Israel is making peace with the Palestinian Authority who represent the Palestinian people. As long as Israel demands that peace preceed talks, they are lavishing the terrorists with the gift of the only tool they need to ensure that peace can not happen.

What must Israel and any other people involved in this situation do? Continue to negotiate regardless of what the terrorists do. When they have negotiated a settlement, everyone can turn their efforts toward implementing it and removing the conditions that promote hate, misunderstanding, and terrorism. If the terrorists attack, do the negotiations in secret, and pound out an agreement. If the terrorists launch larger attacks, locate them and disrupt their operations, and keep negotiating in secret until an agreement is reached. Regardless of what happens, continue negotiating.

Is Israel so blind as to allow itself to be drawn into the terrorist's game? I think not. While not making accusations, I have to wonder if both sides are in love with the idea of peace, but only want it if those applying pressure from inside their opposing sides can feel like they have won. No one wants war, but no one feels that they can afford peace. Possibly Arafat refused the settlement, and the process was scrapped - I have no way of knowing. Or, having brushed against the real prospects of a negotiated peace at the last peace talks during the Clinton administration, both sides were frightened away from the peace table by pressures from within their groups, refused peace, and regrouped with a hawkish mentality, while redeclaring each other their intransigent enemy. The status-quo is a comfortable concession to pressures from within and can be supported indefinitely while making more gains. After all, what is an occasional terrorist attack, or another dead Palestinian youth? As long as there is no peace, everyone is satisfyingly dissatisfied. Only the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center seemed to frighten both sides toward another effort at talks. Is peace really worth the price?

Israel claims that Arafat is responsible for terrorism, and is no different than Usama bin Laden. Arafat distances himself from terrorism and any responsibility, while terrorist groups claim that their terrorism is special - not the terrorism that the world hates. Claim and counterclaim fly like sparks in the furious dance of tit for tat.

Some people must have an enemy to have a reason to be. It is the things that they are opposed to that defines them and gives them purpose. Threaten to destroy their purpose, and they fear they no longer have an identification - a frightening prospect. As long as the enemy is there, you know who you are and what you must do.

I know people whose lives are characterized by conflict with others. If paths cross, conflict begins. Some people have inflexible borders around themselves, and as soon as someone crosses their invisible border line, conflict is inevitable. No one knows where these borders are or why they are there. Each new entrant brings the potential for some perceived breach of a border - some threat to that person's absolute dominion. But no trumpeters bearing a decree of soverienty bears a map to define their domain. Their edges of their domain extend to where conflict begins. The border describes an attitude or a need that they feel they can't afford to compromise. Not many people can have absolute power in the same territory. But we all live in the same fishbowl.

Find peace within. Peace within comes before peace with others. Peace begins with each one of us. There can be no peace when people fail to control their own behavior or have the wrong expectations of others.

Respect all people. Disrespect denies people their humanity, and leads to mistreatment. There can be no peace while disrespect reigns.

Demand respect for life and differences. Peace doesn't come by allowing others to mistreat or destroy you. While being tolerant is very helpful, destructive people must be stopped. Neither does peace come by destroying those who disagree or are different.

Treat others with with dignity and with respect for individuality. Treating others unfairly only invites similar treatment in return. But it is not only important how we treat others, it is also important how others perceive we are treating them. Perceptions are their reality. Sometimes you have to market yourself to others to change perceptions. Sometimes you have to bend over backwards to win a friend.

Overlooking quarrells and obstacles to peace - problem only grows larger.

Being uninvolved - problems only grow larger. We can't turn a blind eye to what goes on in the world around us without placing ourselves in jeopardy.

Find the right ways to resolve conflict. Conflict resolution requires experience and skill. Most of us learn ways to get along with others as we grow up. But sometimes conflicts or situations require special skills.

Our way or no way - only ones who are right, we are the only... If think right, influence others by example, not force.

Rejection of others who are different - cutting off leads to ignorance and distrust, and conflict. Tolerance.

Compromise VS understanding and reaching for and maximizing mutually beneficial goals that embrace differences. End result of compromise is usually a watered-down mess that pleases no one and angers many.

Philosophy. Can't prove anything with philosophy. It is, at this point, the most neutral of observers. It can provide an unbiased forum for discussion. Diversity Attitude

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