According to media reports, the new leadership of the Palestinian
Authority is very eager to resume peace talks with the Israeli government.
Their leaders and spokesmen such as Mahmoud Abbas, Saab Erekat,
and Nabil Shaath, are repeatedly criticizing the Sharon government
for not returning to peace talks without preconditions. Sharon is
being condemned for not responding positively to this window
of opportunity. However, if the Palestinian statements are
carefully studied, there appears to be a problem with English usage.
Its not clear if the problem stems from the translation into
English, or the meaning and usage of English words and phrases.
It seems that the Palestinian spokesmen have the words peace
and piece confused. That is, what they really mean is
to return to Piece Talks. Judging from their statements
and actions, the Palestinians believe that the result of the talks
will be, We will sign a piece of paper so that the Israelis
will give us a piece of land that will enable us to blow up Jews
into little pieces, and to destroy Israel piece by piece.
So the whole Arab-Israeli conflict just seems to be a matter of
semantics. If we can just define the word peace for
the new PA leadership, then the whole matter can be resolved simply
and amicably. Using a variety of online sources, a search for Middle
East Peace has resulted in the following definitions:
1. Peace means that the IDF and PA security forces would coordinate
their efforts to end violence so that Israelis and Arabs can enjoy
a harmonious relationship in safety and security.
2. Peace means that Israel and the PA would work together to promote
commerce between Jews and Arabs.
3. Peace means that Israel and the PA will develop a climate that
will encourage high-tech firms to build research and assembly
facilities in the area.
4. Peace means that Israel and the PA will promote joint tourism
to encourage millions of Christian tourists to return to Jerusalem,
Bethlehem, and Nazareth.
5. Peace means developing and sharing modern transportation facilities.
6. Peace means sharing techniques for water and energy conservation.
7. Peace means joint research projects to develop new sources
for water and energy.
8. Peace means academic exchange programs between Israeli and
Arab educational institutions.
9. Peace means developing a joint emergency response team that
will be able to respond to disasters quickly and efficiently.
10. Peace means sharing health information and resources so that
regional health problems can be quickly resolved.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Additional searches would
probably yield many more definitions of peace. Yet,
so far the PA leadership has not given the slightest hint that they
have any concept of what the word peace means. They
still believe that they will benefit by blowing up people, buildings,
and buses, into little pieces. That means that all of
the peace plans that are on the table now, such as the Roadmap,
Unilateral Disengagement, Population Transfer, and Geneva Initiative,
are all useless. They are complex solutions to a very simple problem.
What we really need is the Webster Plan. The Arabs need to learn
what the word peace really means. So all we have to
do is send their leaders a copy of the new Websters Unabridged,
and peace will be just around the corner. This plan would have a
much greater chance of success than all those other plans that have
been proposed by the worlds greatest leaders and diplomats.
(c) 2004, I. Zwick, NYC
Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.