It is at times like these, when there is a stalemate in the talks between Israel, Palestinians and the wider Arab world that people on both sides become despondent. When this situation occurs, the Israeli Government digs its heels into the ground and does nothing. Both sides seek ways of avoiding each other in order to achieve peace. The demand that there be no preconditions is unrealistic, when there are preconditions that are so ingrained on both sides. The divide is so great and the motivation for negotiating a peace settlement is filled with excuses to justify why the two sides are unwilling to meet.
If we look around us and see what is happening in Syria, the evil Assad regime carries on murdering thousands of innocent Syrians.100 000 Syrians have been massacred and there is no sign of it abating.
We in Israel, are sitting on the sidelines detesting the evil Assad regime and its alliance with the terrorist Shiite Hezbollah movement under Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who sits in his bunker making demagogic, warlike speeches against Israel. There is also the rebel opposition to Assad who are also no paragons of virtue. The opposition itself is divided in its goals and is splintered into many groups. It is composed of extremist Jihadi groups such as Salafis, Al Qaeda and dissident groups with the destruction of Syria and its people as a goal. Even among the rebel groups there does not seem to be a leader that can take over from Assad. The Putin regime of Russia is complicating the issue by intending to supply S 300 missiles to the Assad regime. Putin's excuse - he intends to carry out agreements with Assad that Russia had already signed.
The UN does not seem to be involved much in condemning the massacres in Syria with innocent Syrian people being caught in the crossfire between the Assad regime and the rebels who are no less cruel and indifferent to their plight. A serious refugee problem has been created as many Syrians have fled to Jordan, Turkey and even attempts to enter Israel.
What we see is an amorphous band of murderous bandits on both sides pillaging, looting, raping and killing innocent people. Something went very wrong with the revolution in Syria. Shiites against Sunnis, rich against poor, tribe against tribe, seeking revenge against the Assad regime which has no intention of establishing human rights, democracy or rebuilding Syria into a country where a democratic parliament replaces the Assad tyranny.
Whenever a situation seems hopeless in our part of the world, the importance of seeking new directions to peace by being imaginative, having some fore-sight, mixed with perhaps a naive form of altruism, is all that is left to achieve peace that we all need do much.
The Arab Spring has not achieved a real and democratic change as was hoped in the beginning. The blame must be laid on the doorstep of the politicians who have replaced the dictators.
Returning to Israel's and the Palestinians' inability to enter peace negotiations. Both sides lack a leadership that could get negotiations started. Both sides have unimaginative politicians that are unable to put new ideas on the negotiating table. Both sides have preconditions despite Israel's claim to the contrary. Building settlements instead of agreeing to freeze them in the occupied territories is no less than a precondition of the Palestinians that demand Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 borders as was before the Six Day War.
Both Israelis and Palestinians desire peace. It is the people that desire peace more than the politicians. The politicians bluff the people with promises but at the end of the day it is the same conflict that shatters the hopes of both peoples for peace.The people on both sides must take the initiative by reaching out to each other. This can be done using the Internet and its social applications such as Facebook. If politicians use this media to reach out so can we, the ordinary people, do the same.
Peace and dialogue can be achieved by seeking ways of cooperating in the cultural fields. An outstanding example that comes to mind is the use of music as a facilitator. Daniel Barenboim, the famous Israeli-Argentinian pianist, and the late Edward Said, a musician in his own right, had put in a great effort to instill love of classical music into a mixed Palestinian - Israeli Orchestra. This orchestra performed concerts together. Another example is the cooperation between Israeli musicians of North African origin and Arab musicians that has proved to be a great success. These mixed groups should be encouraged to perform in Israel and Palestine on a wider scale. This would go a long way in bringing both sides together. The more bonds one creates in various cultural activities, the easier it will become to breach the gaps that exist. Palestinian literature should be made more freely available to Israelis and vice verse.Music expresses happiness, sadness, drama and tragedy. Music can express human emotions, which are universal. This could be a starting point. How did the US and Communist China, who were sworn enemies, under the Richard Nixon era get together? It was the result of a table tennis match.
Common interests rather than differences bring people together. Politicians divide and brainwash people to demonize another people as in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. They are the facilitators for unrest, hate and lack of trust. The motivation of politicians is their own prestige under guise of serving their country and its people. Politicians should be our servants as we put them into power. Once they are in power, we become their servants. They create the mess and conflict. The leaders in power should be carrying out the people's desires in achieving peace. The catalysts for peace are the arts that are a common expression for both sides. Music that reflects a common Oriental Jewish - Arab culture has great potential for achieving peace. In the Arab countries, where Jews had lived for centuries, there was a great overlap of cultures each contributing to the other. This was never the case in Christian Europe 500 - 600 years ago. The potential is there to begin the process of peace negotiations between the two parties as they have more in common than what divides them.