Tikkun Magazine: Click here to jump to the text of this article.
Tikkun Home There's a new agreement for Middle East Peace: the Geneva Accord.  Sign it.  Support it. Click here. Healing Israel/Palestine: the new book by Rabbi Michael Lerner.  Click here to buy now.
Core Vision  •  Magazine  •  Tikkun Community  •  Tikkun Campus Network  •  TikkunMail  •  Home

Donate  •  Subscribe  •  Join the Tikkun Community  •  Conferences & Events  •  Renewal

TIKKUN COMMUNITY

 
Ask the Rabbi: Rabbi Michael Lerner answers your questions on Judaism and the Tikkun philosophy.
Advertise on Tikkun.org
Delight in your beautiful sukkah - order your kit soon.  Click here for more info.  SukkahSoul.com

Holiday Supplement
Current Projects Archive

The Current Thinking

'To mend, repair, and
transform the world.'
The Resolution for Middle East Peace--and Q&A; about the resolution
A balanced solution to the Middle East mess
Tikkun Community | 06.26.2003

Below is the text of the Resolution

A Resolution for Middle East Peace

Whereas we recognize the humanity and fundamental decency of both the Israeli and Palestinian people, and wish to see them living in peace with each other, side by side in a safe Israel and a safe Palestine,

And Whereas we abhor acts of terror, violence and denial of human rights,

And Whereas the continuation of this conflict is destructive to the people of the Middle East, counter to the best interests and values of the United States, and might contribute to an increase in Anti-Semitism and anti-Arab prejudices,

Be It HEREBY RESOLVED THAT THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES URGES THE PRESIDENT TO:

Seek an immediate end to violence and terror in the Middle East by introducing an international buffer of genuinely unbiased and neutral forces to separate and provide protection for Israelis and Palestinians and meanwhile use the resources of the U.S. to bring about the following resolution of the conflict:

(a) Return of Israel to its pre-1967 borders, with minor border modifications mutually agreed upon (following terms already agreed to by both parties at Taba in 2001 that would allow Israel to retain Jewish sections of Jerusalem including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Wall and allow Palestine to include Arab sections of Jerusalem including its al-Aska mosque).

(b) Creation of an economically and politically viable, democratically governed and human-rights respecting Palestinian state in all of the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza including East Jerusalem

(c) An international fund to provide compensation for Palestinians and to assist in resettling Palestinian refugees inside the borders of the new Palestinian state, and to provide compensation for Israelis who fled from persecution in Arab lands, and to resettle Israeli settlers within the pre-1967 borders of Israel;

(d) Recognition by surrounding Arab and Islamic States of Israel and the Palestinian state and treaties assuring peaceful political relations and lasting economic cooperation;

(e) Sharing by Israel, Palestine and surrounding Arab states of the water and other resources of the area and joint cooperation to preserve the region´┐Żs ecological well-being;

<{P> (f) Active participation of Palestine and Israel, in cooperation with international forces, to protect both countries from the inevitable violence and terrorism that will continue after this peace agreement has been implemented´┐Żrecognizng that some groups will continue to use violence against Israel even after it has returned to its pre-1967 borders or against Palestine even when its government and the majority of its people seek to live in peace with Israel;

(g) International guarantees of the safety and security of both Israel and Palestine, either through bilateral mutual defense agreements with the United States, or some similar arrangements with a credible international force which will protect Israel and Palestine from any states or terrorist groups which have hostile intentions;

(h) The creation of institutions in both societies designed to eliminate the teaching of hatred and stereotyping in the media, religious communities, and educational systems, and to replace them with education and social practices aimed at building a foundation for future trust and cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and fostering repentance for past violations of human rights and a new spirit of reconciliation, recognition of the humanity of the other, and generosity towards each other.


Can't come to the Teach-In but want to have this kind of impact?

Here is what you can do:

Get this proposal endorsed by every local civic organization, church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, university, social justice and peace organizations, etc. Then, get it endorsed by the local city council. If they won't do it quickly, many areas of the country have a mechanism by which ordinary citizens can place a referendum on the ballot. Collect signatures and put this proposition directly to the people. Unlike the war in Iraq, which may be resolved quickly, the Middle East conflict will be around for a long time. So you can work on this, send to us the names of organizations and individuals who sign or endorse this so that we can bring those endorsements to Congress in June, and continue working on this throughout the coming year—and plan to be with us in 2004 when we will go to Congress again with these ideas. Meanwhile, if you possibly can, come to the Tikkun Summer Institute in California August 13-17.

Questions and Answers about the Referendum which may arise when you take this to your local city council or seek to put it on the ballot or seek endorsement by community groups.

1. What is the point of trying to get Congress, or state legislators, or city councils to endorse a resolution that has no chance of ever getting passed in a conservative, pro-Ariel Sharon dominated Congress and with a very right-wing White House?

Our goal is not to get a particular piece of legislation passed, but to change the public discourse about the Middle East. By introducing into the public conversation a vision of what Middle East peace could look like which is BOTH pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, we hope to strengthen those forces in the U.S., Israel and Palestine who would want a peace settlement but who have felt increasingly depressed and despairing as the public conversation has been dominated by the war-makers and haters and those who put forward demands that are guaranteed to enflame the anger or fear of the other side of the conflict. Our approach gives both Palestinians and Israelis what they need, and shows that such an outcome is possible.

2. What about the Road Map presented by President Bush—shouldn't we just be supporting that?

The Road Map is severely flawed in two respects:

  • It asks the parties to take a series of steps that both sides will find difficult to take, yet it provides no clear vision of what the final outcome will be. Instead, at the end of the road map is not the destination, but a negotiation about what the destination should be. And those negotiations have achieved little in the past. So the Road Map will NOT empower moderates in the Palestinian world, because when they approach the extremists to say, "Stop the violence and you will get....negotiations after three years" they will not have a very convincing or enticing something to offer. Conversely, Israeli moderates will not be able to say to their own population: "If we give up some settlements now, we will get the following in the long run" because there is no clear vision of what that long run would be. So the Road Map puts the cart before the horse: it needs to start with a clear vision of where things should end up, and then it can motivate people to take steps in that direction. Tikkun Community's Resolution for Middle East Peace provides a clear statement of where things should end up, and support for it in the country could give the Administration backing to change the Road Map in this sensible and moderate way.
  • It conditions steps toward peace on the elimination of all violence. Yet this gives a tremendous tool of empowerment to the extremists who wish to stop the peace process—all they need to do is to get a few suicide bombers in place, and the whole thing gets derailed. As a result, instead of rewarding the good behavior and intentions of the majority of the population, the Road Map, following in a pattern that has been part of Israeli policy for a long time, rewards the extremists and gives them a positive incentive to do more acts of violence.
So we offer "critical support for the Road Map," defending it against the Right which thinks it offers too much to the Palestinians, but nevertheless critiquing it by providing the necessary ingredient which we define in our Resolution for Middle East Peace.

3. Isn't it presumptuous and arrogant for the United States or the "quartet" to offer a final outcome—shouldn't that emerge from the people of the region?

The Resolution for Middle East Peace derives from the negotiations at Taba between Israel and Palestinians and embodies the positions upon which both sides agreed. It is not spun out of American ingenuity, but out of the actual negotiations between the parties, and in most respects would find immediate support from the majority of the populations on both sides on those days when they are thinking about solutions and not about revenge for the latest outrageous act of inhumanity that the other side has committed.

However, the leadership in Israel (and some would argue on the Palestinian side as well, though the new leadership is untested and might act differently) is opposed to making the compromises necessary for full reconciliation with the other side.

In fact, at the moment we have a bar-room brawl going on, in which both sides seem more invested in getting one more jab or throw one much punch at the other side than in stopping the struggle, and they have been in that position for most of the past 3 decades. Given that, it is the humanitarian responsibility of others to step in, stop the fight, separate the two sides, and then take all necessary steps to create a solution that is fair to both sides.

If, on the other hand, we "leave it to the parties involved" to work things out, the radical asymmetry in power between the occupiers and the occupied will guarantee that Israel will seek to impose conditions that are unacceptable to the Palestinian people, and so the occupation will continue. If we want to end this conflict, we in the rest of the world will have to play a much more active and forceful role.

4. Why should people in the rest of the world have any right to shape what happens in Israel/Palestine? Isn't this a violation of their sovereignty?

Israel was created by a vote of the United Nations, and as an act of affirmative action which imposed on the Palestinian people a refuge for world Jewry with a principle of "right of return" for Jews that was not granted to non-Jews. Creating Israel as a state for a particular ethnic/religious group, the UN participated in creating a situation which has led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and their subsequent families now number over three million people, many of them living in some of the worst conditions that exist any place on this planet. The peoples of the world have a right and obligation to rectify the unjust consequences of their previous acts by creating a Palestinian state that encompasses almost all of the West Bank and Gaza. The UN has passed numerous resolutions calling for ways to rectify the injustice done to the Palestinian people. Israel and the U.S. have blocked the implementation of these resolutions.

5. The U.N. passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. Doesn't this disqualify it as the appropriate vehicle for intervention in the conflict?

There was a period when resentment against Israel's policies, and against its sponsor the United states, was so great that this very unfair and distorted resolution equating Zionism with racism was passed. But the UN has matured since that time, and has subsequently repealed that particular resolution. In any event, the Resolution for Middle East Peace does not specifically say that it is the UN that should be the implementer of the terms of the Resolution. International forces to protect innocent civilians have been formed outside the framework of the UN, and that might be one path to use in trying to get these ideas broadly discussed.

6. In point (a) of the Resolution it calls for "minor border modifications mutually agreed upon." What does this really mean?

In the negotiations at Taba between Israel and Palestine at the end of 2000 and in January of 2001 this phrase was the one that both sides agreed upon. It meant that there would be subsequent negotiations about some details, including which border settlements would be included in Israel. It was meant to assure Israelis that this return to the pre-67 borders would not mean that parts of Jerusalem which had a majority of Israelis by 1993 but which were under Jordanian control in 1948-67 would now become part of a Palestinian state. This clause allows Jews to retain control of theWall, the Jewish section of the Old City, and places like the Mt. Scopus and French Hill. But in specifying 1993, we seek to block a certain problem: the vast escalation of settlement activity and formal incorporation of these settlements into Jerusalem which has been pursued by right-wing Israeli governments and which might be immediately escalated in order to "create facts on the ground." By setting 1993 as our cut-off, we intend to show that no matter what settlements Israel builds today or what acts of incorporation into Israel of more Arab land, the boundaries will be essentially those that existed in 1993—thus assuring Palestinians that new land grabs by Israelis (as is happening now through the construction of a wall/fence in the West Bank by Ariel Sharon) will not be permanent.

7. In calling for reparations for Palestinian refugees, are we in effect saying that there is no Right of Return for Palestinians?

This resolution does not address Right of Return. It is meant to support the continued existence of Israel as a state with special responsibilities and "right of return" for Jews, and Palestine as a state with special responsibilities and "right of return" for Palestinians. It is based on the following reading of the political map: any calling for a Right of Return to the State of Israel at this point would be perceived by Israelis as essentially calling for an end to the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and would doom al the other points of an agreement, and hence would guarantee continuation of the Occupation indefinitely. We believe that the Jewish people's historical experience as a minority within states of the world and the oppression it faced in those circumstances (not to mention genocide and anti-Jewish racism) has given the Jews a good reason to want to have a state where they remain the majority for at least some (time-limited) period into the future (say, until anti-Jewish racism has been wiped out of the collective consciousness of the human race). Similarly, a Palestinian state would be giving special considerations and rights to Palestinians all around the world who wanted to return to it. While we believe that minorities in the State of Israel should be given full democratic rights and that all forms of discrimination should end, and similarly that Jewish citizens of Palestine should have full rights of citizens, we do not intend to use this Resolution as a vehicle to support a binational state in which Jews would be a minority. But there is no reason why people who do support a binational state or Right of Return could not join in support of this resolution along with people who are vehemently opposed to the implementation of Right of Return for Palestinians.

On the other hand, we are cognizant that the negotiators at Taba did develop a formula that would have allowed a small percentage of Palestinians to return to Israel on the basis of humanitarian considerations and reunification of families. Some have mentioned a figure between 10-25,000 Palestinians a year returning, but a number small enough to meet Jewish demographic concerns about remaining a majority in their own country. This resolution neither supports nor opposes that particular development. Support for this Resolution should not be construed as support for either side of the debate about Right to Return. But it is support for a position which, if implemented, would dramatically increase the well being of the Palestinian people and the security of the State of Israel.

8. Why doesn't this Resolution explicitly call for a return of all settlers to the pre-67 borders of Israel?

This resolution does call for funds to help resettle settlers in the pre-67 borders of Israel, but it does not mandate that they must go back to those borders. Just as there are Palestinian Arabs living as citizens of the State of Israel, so Jews should be allowed to remain in the settlements as citizens of the State of Palestine. Just as Arabs in Israel are under the full jurisdiction of the laws and courts of Israel, so those Jews who elect to remain in Palestine would have to become citizens of the State of Palestine and live in accord with its laws. In the first few decades of the State of Israel, its Palestinian citizens lived under martial law with restricted rights—and that might be the case for Jewish citizens of Palestine as well. There might be legal proceedings against settlers who build settlements on the land of others. There certainly ought to be (in both Israel and Palestine) laws prohibiting discrimination in housing and hiring (so that the homes being left by Israelis being resettled in Israel would be available for purchase by Palestinian Arabs and not just by Jews and so the settlements would be quickly integrated). It would have to be made 100% clear to the Jewish settlers that they could expect no intervention on their behalf by the State of Israel, just as Arabs living in Israel could expect no intervention on their behalf by the State of Palestine. Jews who agree to live as law-abiding citizens of the State of Palestine should be allowed to do so, but should face legal punishments should they engage in acts aimed at destroying the Palestinian state or inciting violence.

9. Hamas and other extremist elements will take acts of violence to prevent this plan from ever being implemented. How can you make peace with a group of people who wish to see the elimination of the State of Israel and who will do all in their power to achieve that end?

Just as there are Americans who seek the violent overthrow of this government (to wit the right-wing militias who managed to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City several years ago). So there will always be some Palestinians willing to revert to violence against Israel and some Israelis who will use violence to try to reclaim what they believe to be God-given lands of the Jewish people in the West Bank.

The freedom and rights of the rest of the population cannot be held hostage to the fantasy of eliminating these violent extremists, because they will never be fully eliminated. But what can be achieved is to dramatically lower their level of support among the Israeli and Palestinian populations. If our Resolution for Middle East Peace is in fact implemented, the extremists will lose many of their supporters and will be increasingly isolated. Yet there is no doubt that they will still have the means to engage in acts of violence. The key here is to make visible to each side the peace-oriented majority of the other side, and the frustrations that they have in controlling the most violent elements of their own community.

Hamas and others will continue as a criminal class after the terms of the Resolution have been adopted. But criminals should not be given the power to thwart the peace-affirming desires of the majority on each side.

10. Do you really believe that peace can be established through a set of agreements like this?

No. Peace will require a change of heart on the parts of both peoples. These legal arrangements are a good first step. Any lasting peace will require an inner transformation, and that's why we are advocating for a Peace and Reconciliation Commission which would be charged with implementing a process aimed at heart-level transformations. But such changes are impossible now when Israelis fear violence in their shopping centers and buses and when Palestinians suffer daily abuse, violence, torture, violation of human rights, and impossibly difficult living situations as Israel enforces the Occupation. That's why we need an immediate intervention on the part of the world's peoples so that the violence can be stopped and the Resolution implemented.

11. What can we do to help support this effort in the coming years?

The question correctly but unfortunately implies that the solution will not happen in the next few months, and that the position it articulates will be relevant for many years to come. So here is what you can do to help us:

  • Become knowledgeable about the situation. Create a study group with your friends and read the book Healing Israel/Palestine by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Then study some of the source books he lists at the end of his book. Do what you can to make sure that this book is prominently displayed in bookstores in your region. To deepen your understanding, come to Tikkun training events (e.g. the Tikkun Summer Institute, at U.C. Santa Cruz, August 13-17) to get immersion in this kind of thinking and learning techniques of organizing.
  • Try to get this resolution endorsed by locally elected officials, your city council or state legislature, your Congressional representatives, local churches, synagogues, mosques, ashrams, social change organizations, civic organizations, student bodies of high schools and colleges in your region, and anyone else who has any influence or constituency. Get friends, neighbors, coworkers, members of your church or synagogue or mosque or ashram to sign it and give us their emails so that we can enlist them in future activity on its behalf. Send it out to everyone on your email lists. People can sign up online at www.tikkun.org, and you can download the Resolution and have it hand-signed by those who do not have access to the world wide web.
  • Ask anyone seeking your vote to take a stand on this Resolution. Ask candidates running for President, or their local representatives, to discuss their stand on this Resolution. Ask political parties to take a stand on this Resolution. Get slates of candidates who will be elected to the national conventions of the political parties to tell where they stand on this Resolution and ask them to promise to make it an issue at their party conventions--or at least to make sure that we are invited to present our perspective at their convention. .
  • Join the Tikkun Community (join online, or call us at (510) 644-1200), and bring together a group of people who can work with you on this project. We will help you connect with people in your region who are interested in this kind of work but who have not yet been able to create a local Tikkun Community. Work with our National Task Force on Political Outreach—community@tikkun.org



Want to work on this? First step: Join The Tikkun Community. Go to the place that says Join on this website www.tikkun.org Second step: Form a local branch.Contact Robyn or Evan for assistance. Robyn@tikkun.org, media@tikkun.org Third step: Help us bring people to Congress each year. Fourth Step: Become active with the Tikkun Task Force on Political Outreach www.tikkun.org

HomeThe MagazineTikkun CommunityTikkun Campus NetworkTikkunMailRenewal
DonateSubscribeJoin the CommunityConferences & EventsAbout Us

© 2004 Tikkun Magazine. Tikkun® is a registered trademark.
Tikkun Magazine • 2342 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 1200 • Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 644-1200 • Fax: (510) 644-1255
Email: magazine@tikkun.org • Beyt Tikkun: (415) 575-1432