Tuesday, August 01, 2006

posted by Ofer

Peace and Love

What does an average European or American picture in his mind when he talks about peace in the Middle East ? I'm not too sure, but I get the feeling that it involves lots of hugs and kisses, or at least warm handshakes. The west has a very romantic (dare I say juvenile) perception of peace. They lecture us about releasing hatred from our hearts. They can't get enough of the metaphor of little Israeli and Arab children playing together. These things have nothing to do with peace in the Middle East.

Peace and love are not the same thing. The confusion may stem from the fact that these two words were used almost synonymously by hippies in the 1960's. Mind you, back then these words were also synonymous with the words "sex" and "drugs". In the Middle East, in the year 2006, peace and love are two very distinct concepts that really have nothing to do with each other.

Actually, its lucky that this distinction exists. That's because I don't see myself feeling any love for Palestinians in the near future. I don't think the Lebanese feel much love for me right now. Heck, I can't even stand most Israelis. In the words of the poet: "What's love got to do, got to do with it".

Peace and hatred have no problem coexisting, given a mutual interest on both sides. Its all about convincing the two parties that they have more to gain from peace than they do from conflict. Its not about mutual understanding, its not about empathizing with each other, its not about liking each other, its not about being friends. We don't need trade agreements with the Arabs, we don't need Iranian tourists, we don't need a Lebanese cultural attache. All Israel wants is for the damn terrorists to leave us alone. All the Arabs want ... well, let them speak for themselves. We need to find a compromise that everyone can live with, and then continue to hate each other happily ever after. Peacefully.

Yeah, I'm a cynic. A war every 10 years and exploding busses does that to a person.


Blogger the perpetual refugee said...

Ofer, I don't believe it's cynicism. I believe it's realism.

Very good post. And true post.

The Arabs...let's see. The Arabs want:

1) A resolution to the Palestinian issue which is 1967 borders

The Lebanese want that an an answer as to what to do with the 400,000 Palestinian refugees currently in Lebanon.

Then you may just get that Lebanese cultural attache while Beirutis will get to taste what Kosher falafel tastes like.

First, we gotta stop the bombs.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Elon said...

Agreed, as an urgent first step.

But I want to end up like Europe. Because that is the best guaranty against returning to war. And because it is much more fun. So you start with peace without friendship. Even with hate. And then you encourage tourism. And cooperation of businesses. And after two decades you might have so many Lebanese that have studied in Israeli universities and vice versa, that the population just can't imagine a war. Just like most French can't imagine a war with Britain. Or Germany.

But for now, I'll settle for nust stopping the bombs for a short-medium time span.


BTW - falafel, being a vegeterian dish is Kosher anyway. I haven't tasted falafel in Lebanon, but I have in Cairo. In Israel we only use chickpeas and not ful for the balls themselves, and we put tehini and pickles on top of the Egyptian falafel-balls-cum-salad in the sandwitch.

2:36 PM  
Blogger the perpetual refugee said...

Just to clarify:

When I said stop the bombs, I did mean ALL bombs. Going in whatever direction. North. South. East. West. Katyusha and F-16 missiles.

Elon, I'd be happy to swap falafel recipes with you.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Ofer said...

If on the topic of food:

1. During my army service I was stationed for three months in Marjayoun. My many Lebanese friends (soldiers from the South Lebanese Army) would go into town and bring me the local fast-food delicacy "Jej Malfoof" (chicken with cabbage). A people capable of creating this wonderful dish are truely worthy of peace.

2. My wife and I found a recipe for "Layalai Lubnan" (nights of Lebanon) in the paper. I had it once several years ago, in Jerusalem, and fell in love. We will try to make it soon.

Make food, not war !

3:13 PM  
Blogger ran said...

It is interesting, because the argument that love is not a prerequisite for peace is usually used in Israel as a response to the moderate-right-wing voters, who justify Israel's occupation by saying the the arabs hate us and only want to destroy us. It is used by the left wing voters, who generally do (you too ofer, I believe) aspire for a future 'warm peace'. The left that way asks for the right-wingers to give up war and occupation in exchange for peace with hate (they must have some negative element...). This is part of what the realignment is all about - 'cold peace' or cease fire.
I think that what the europeans (maybe naively, nor sure) mean is that love and understanding on the cultural and moral level might increase the chances for achieving peace agreements.
As you can see the palestinians and Israel don't seem to leverage their mutual interests to create peace. Maybe because one of their interests is maintaining the hatred.
Love (or at least the ceasing of blind hatred) is not a prerequisite, but it might help.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Lazarus said...

We need to find a compromise that everyone can live with.


10:05 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Ofer, What you say about peace and love makes perfect sense to me.
What does an average European or American picture in his mind when he talks about peace in the Middle East? I am an average American, and when I picture peace in the Middle East, I just see no more fighting using violence. That's it. In America I have lived a very sheltered life. I have never seen war on my soil with the exception of very few terrorist attacks, 9-11 being the worst. I really do know how fortunate I am, unlike some who take that for granted. I am not blind to the fact that we owe the peace on our soil and our freedom to the men and women in our military, present and past. So is the peace on our soil really created with love? Only if you count the love of country that inspires an American to join the military. It is, for sure, not because other countries love America. I call that a cold peace.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Ofer said...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for your perspective. I get what you're saying.

I agree that the USA is currently disliked by many countries, especially in Europe and the Arab world. In that sense, there is indeed no love. But I don't think it really qualifies as a cold peace because you don't feel any of the effects of the cold. Most American lives wouldn't change a bit if your relations with France or Jordan were warmer. Americans are still welcome pretty much anywhere in the world, the Arabs and Europeans still drink Coke and eat McDonalds. Somehow, although you are disliked, noone (except maybe Bin Laden) does anything concrete to express his dislike for you.

We, on the other hand, would immediately feel the diference between warm and cold peace. Mostly economically. For us, accepting cold peace as our reality is already a compromise.

9:26 AM  

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