"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.
We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues"

( JM Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Granchildren" 1930 )

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Should we be worried from lesser violence?

From the Israeli Press: Haaretz 10.12.2009

Defense officials: Palestinians trying to coerce Israel into accepting statehood

The current calm in the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority's crackdown on violence there has prompted to international community to demand Israel advance the political process, said the officials.

"The Palestinians want to continue to build their state from below and at the same time to work with the United States and the European Union to force Israel into an arrangement from above," Yadlin ( Head of AMAN – Israeli Military Intelligence) and Diskind ( Head of SHIN BET : The security service ) told the ministers.

It seems that Top Intelligence Israeli officers are worried from the unexpected, or may I say, undesired consequences of the PNA* conscious effort to reduce the flames of violence and terror. Why to be worried? The relative calm could be be part of a sophisticated strategy traced by the PNA to enforce (!) and agreement on Israel. That sort of “warnings” shed light on some obstacles in the way for achieving an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians : lack of dialogue, violence and mistrust. I will try to do my best and explain myself in the following paragraphs.

Coercion and dialogue: True, no country likes to be coerced. Anyhow, is it possible to say that what looks as a "coercion" is not more than a compromise? Let me explain: The result of any fruitful dialogue is a “give and take” deal, a compromise that is the outcome of constraints and pressures imposed on decision takers. Therefore it´s quite logical to state that any effective pressure can be ultimately considered as a sort of coercion as it affects the final decision. Bringing that vision to an extreme, the only way to “a no coercion state” is by avoiding any dialogue, a legitimate vision under certain circumstances (for example hostages) but hardly applicable in the political arena. As a matter of fact, the Israeli Government has already decided to negotiate with the Palestinians, so the coercion argument is irrelevant unless there is no real interest in dialogue and compromise.

Violence: If the relative calm is detonating a process which will push the political process forward and might even form international pressures on Israel, what should be the operative suggestion? Can we deduce that any Palestinian violence is “good” for Israel? Or may I say, that the relative calm is good for a peaceful Israel which aims to live peacefully with its immediate neighbors, but “bad” for a belligerent State?

Trust: Unfortunately it is common to hear arguments against the peace process under any, and even contradictory circumstances. Let me explain: When the Palestinians make use of terror, the argument is that Israel should not deal under threats. Now, when the Palestinians try to curb violence in order to get international support (exactly as any weak nation, including Israel would do) the argument is that Israel should not be coerced to a statehood solution by the international community ( or even there is no need to hurry since everything is calm…). There is another subliminal possible underlying message (quite popular in Israel) : Palestinians are just playing the “nice guys” role in order to achieve their statehood. As soon as they get their state they will turn to other means against Israel. The main weakness (and strength) of that sort of conspiratorial theories is their eternal “correctness” as well as “incorrectness”. Intentions, especially future ones are subjective and elusive and hard to prove or refute.

Final comment : The task of leadership is not just “to guess” intentions but also to try to shape the opponents´ intentions and perceptions according to its own national interest. The Mid East conflict has already too much doses of mistrust, violence and lack of dialogue . Therefore what is needed more than ever is less "warnings" and more hope.

*PNA – Palestinian National Authority

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