Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Down with Road Blocks; Up with Peace

Time to be creative

Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 2:43 PM CDT
The Tribune, Ames, Iowa

My friend suggests erecting road blocks forcing people to sit in their cars for hours so Amesites begin to understand why road blocks destroy civil society in Palestine.

“Fat chance,” I tell him.

Instead, let’s write about why Israel’s democracy is diminishing itself through the Knesset’s “Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.” Sounds democratic, right? But, no, the committee drafts laws to discourage inter-religious marriages, deny Jerusalemites residency rights, declare it legal to take land for Jewish development from those natives who happen to be non-Jews. Jews of conscience tell me these laws are not what having a state religion is about.

It’s just wrong to use religion to destroy the lives and cultures of others, period. Sure, Israel has a demographic problem with Arab birthrates much higher than Jewish, but this is no surprise. There are ways around disparities.

Israeli academic Neve Gordon talks about one-state with a real democracy, not the one-person, one-vote American democracy, but a Lebanese-type democracy in which each faith group involved has a specific role in the government: Jews would always be prime ministers, Muslims would always be presidents and Christians would always be secretaries of state. The people vote, yes, and there are branches of government, a parliament, but each group is assured of shared power, the kind of power that would encourage, no, demand, cooperation.

Are we going to have to kill half the people of the world to get to a point in which good for all trumps greed for a few? How about it, objectors? It’s a Jewish saying, I believe, “If not now, when?”

With the closure of the Damascus Gate to “modernize” the Old City and a development about to displace more than 1,000 Palestinian families, I can’t think of a better time for creative thinking. Onward, Neve Gordon.

Betsy Mayfield

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