CLIO mr brice - page 47

But if we should learn anything from history it
is not that a resolution to an Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is an impossibility, but rather how
quickly things change. It is all too easy to get
stuck in the rut of the present - to be blinkered
by the vast amount of articles hurled at us that
portray the conflict as a never-ending disaster
with no possible light at the end of the tunnel.
But a survey, even a brief one, of the history of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is instructive in
helping us realize just how dramatic and rapid
changes in perception, and reality, can be.
If you had told the founder of Israel and First
Prime Minister, Ben Gurion in 1936, the year
the Great Arab Revolt began in Palestine,
that in 20 years time he would be sitting, the
Prime Minister of a two-million-strong Jewish
democratic state, holding discussions with the
French and the British about how to attack a
quasi-socialist Egyptian state, he would have
been in utter disbelief. If you had caught him on
his way out of
such a meeting
in 1956 and
told him that
in 22 years
time the leader
of the future
Egyptian state
would set foot
in the very land
his nation was committed to destroying and
address Knesset (Israeli Parliament) to ask for
peace, this too would have seemed improbable.
And if you had said to someone in 1993 that
the situation would, 22 years down the line, be
as it is today, you would have been branded a
fatalistic and total pessimist.
Frustratingly, the future is becoming
increasingly unclear. Today we see atrocious
levels of violence in this region, and peace-
talks seem somewhat futile and hopeless. As
Benjamin Netanyahu's policies continue to
be divisive, the rift between conflicting groups
becomes ever growing.
Yet rather than make us despair – this should
make us hope. It takes one peace treaty at
the top, as in Northern Ireland, for a whole
landscape to change. It takes a movement for
peace in both camps to bring about a cultural
shift which will leave us in a place we thought
we could not reach a generation before. One
tragedy, one moment of inspiration, or one
leader with greater foresight. We are not
doomed to remain like this forever, history is
simply too unpredictable.
Figure 2. Founder and First
Prime Minister of Israel Ben
Gurion
By Gideon Leibowitz
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