Saturday, 6 June 2009

Peace At Last In The Middle East?

I still have a very clear picture of my mum and my childhood. My mum loved me so much to the extent that she told me on numerous occasions that when she was pregnant and immediately after my birth and even years after that she thought I was a god.

I still remember the way she adored and glorified me and all the stories she told me of how beautiful I was as a young child that passersby would always stop to cuddle me and take a picture of or with me. I do not have a single doubt about the veracity of this story because on many occasions I had come across in our family album of pictures taken of me with complete strangers and each time I asked my mum who is this and who is that, she would always tell me that she does not know. And from there she will begin to tell me stories of how handsome I was as a child that some women registered their daughters as my future wife and blahblahblah until I make her to stop.

She also told me how I never gave any problem to her during her pregnancy with me and how my birth on a cool Sunday morning is a sign to her that am a special person. Oh. By the way she is too superstitious. She even told me how the birth took place. She had an appointment that Sunday morning to see her GP as usual since she is nearing her terms. She first of all went to Sunday mass and from there to the hospital and before she could know it the doctor asked her to come to the labour room and before she could finish saying Ben Jackiedow there is a white adorable baby by her side and she was like what is this and the doctor replied that is your baby.

She told me many stories and many of them I can still confirm their veracity especially ones where strangers took pictures with me. My father never say things like that and has not to my knowledge praised me the way my mum praises me. In fact on one occasion when I made 8 distinctions to become the best student and boy in my secondary school, my mum called for celebration while my dad was like people have been doing that. While my mum adores me my dad is always very mean and strict and would always want me to work hard, harder and hardest till I break my bones. My mum does not want any of that. Left for my mum she would want me to be the President of the United States, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, President of South Africa and Japan, all at the same time even from the day I was born.

When I think about all these I begin to ask why mums love their kids more than dads. To my mum am not capable of committing any sin or making any mistake. After all she is yet to come to terms with the fact that am a mere mortal. She is always defending me. She is too emotional and that is not only peculiar to her. It is a trait found in all mums and women world over. It is this trait that makes them often the best leaders when they have the opportunity to lead. This is evidenced in what they have done in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions as heads and many other positions too. They are simply amazing and wonderful. Am just wondering what the world would have turned into without mums.

It is against this background that the news of the victory of the Kadima Party led by Tzipi Livni should be welcomed by all parties not only in the Middle East but the world over. Though the victory is too early to be celebrated since Kadima carried the day with only one seat ahead of the Likud Party, it is still a good news that Kadima with its moderate rightist view came this far. 

For over 60 years the sate of Israel has been in constant aggression and war with not only its immediate neighbour the Palestine but with almost all the Arab nations. What is happening today in the Middle East is no more their affair but our collective affair since we are feeling the impact the world over. Just as I rightly pointed out couple of days back on my note on Ubuntu, human beings are social being and whatever happens to one has a direct or indirect impact on others. It is simply because of this that the world should come together to offer a lasting solution to the problem in the Middle East.

The pessimist have always held the view that there would never be peace in the Middle East but the events of the recent times in different parts of the world have shown that nothing is no more impossible in today's world. America recently elected its first black president followed closely by Iceland that produced the first lesbian Prime Minister. Against this backdrop, the peace in the Middle East should not be seen as a no go area. That peace could be achieved if there is willingness amongst all the parties involved and that is the reason kudos should be given to Israel for choosing the Kadima Party headed by Tzipi Livni.

Tzipi Livni was born in the 50s and was a Lieutenant in the Israeli Defence Force before working briefly as a spy for the Mossad-a dangerous, youthful stint in one of the world’s most respected and feared secret services. She later left her spy work with Mossad to finish her degree in law. He is married with children and this is an advantage I have no doubt in mind she will bring to her governance. Being a mum like my mum and a relatively new face in the Israeli politics, Tzipi stands the better chance in comparison to Benjamin Netanyahu to fast track the peace process that has been eluding the State of Israel and its neighbours especially the Palestine. Also Netanyahu has been there before and nothing happened. Tzipi should therefore be given a chance.

She is obviously not going to be the first Israeli female prime minister since Golda Meir has been one in the 70s but the fact is that her pacifist view on the Arab-Israeli conflicts would surely fast tract the peace process in motion. We are already becoming inpatient with what is happening in the middle-east and this opportunity to try a new hand and a woman should also not be carelessly allowed to elude us.

Israel has got to put things right this time. Living in plenty in the midst of its poverty stricken neighbours is obviously not a good thing. Since its foundation over 60 years ago the State of Israel has grown from strength to strength from every angle and ramification. The population of Israel is predominantly urban and, although about 81 per cent Jewish, contains a remarkable racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity.

More than half of the Jews in Israel are Israeli-born (called Sabras), but their immediate forebears came from more than 100 different countries and spoke, among them, about 85 different languages or major dialects. Major groupings include the Ashkenazim, whose forebears lived in European countries in the Middle Ages; Sephardim, some of whose ancestors once lived in the Iberian Peninsula; and other people who moved to Israel from North Africa and the Middle East. There are significant cultural and political differences between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim communities. The remaining 19 per cent of Israel’s population is mainly Arab.

About 96 percent of the citizens of the State of Israel are literate. Most enjoy high standard of living and their life expectancy is on the average of 80 for both men and women. It is against this background that one begins to wonder about the prosperity of this state in the midst of poverty of its neighbours especially the Palestine. No child born in Palestine since the creation of the State of Israel has known peace. They have seen war in all its ramifications, seen their lands taken away from them and made second-class citizens in their own land.

The military strength of Palestine to the State of Israel is just like an ant fighting an elephant. Israel has on many occasions bombed many Palestinian houses wiping out families most often in its offensive against the Hamas. The Palestinian children have never known peace. Access to good healthcare, quality education and shelter is a dream they could only imagine but can never realise unlike their counterparts in Israel. It is based on this argument that one begins to question the wisdom of Israel in the Middle East. A man cannot boast of being a philanthropist when his family is dying of hunger and that is exactly what Israel is doing today. Israel demonstrates a posture of a very perfect state while in her background a lot of atrocities are going on there. These include poverty, sickness, lack of free movement, lack of access to health care and education for its impoverished neighbours. How could one explain the wisdom behind this?

The triumph of the Kadima party and the bright picture that Tzipi Livni is likely to make it as the next Israeli Prime Minister should therefore be a welcome development. The closeness of the vote between the Kadima and Likud would certainly guarantee a lengthy period of haggling before a governing coalition can be assembled. But at this early stage in the process, it looks certain that the next Israeli government will be much more hard-line than the last. That does not augur well for a peace process which the new administration in Washington has made one of its early foreign policy priorities. As a mother Tzipi has experienced the pains and joys of motherhood. She is in better position to appreciate the suffering of Palestinian mothers crying for their lost children and give this peace a chance. Just as my mum would not want anything bad happen to me, so do Palestinian mothers wish their children and Tzipi should make their dream come true.

During her campaign Tzipi, gave us a picture of a pacifist and we wish she will continue with that dream which is the only hope we have at the moment to alleviate the pains of the Palestinians. She made a promise to pursue till the end the Land-For-Peace Agreement and we hope she toes the line. She was also reported to have exploded with indignation about Shas, and other ultra-religious parties' insistence that the status of Jerusalem not be discussed in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. She is really in favour of a two sate solution to the status of Jerusalem which is one of the main issues in the conflict with Palestine. The lands in question do not belong to Israel and should be returned to their rightful owners. The use of about 4000-year old theology to explain 20th century democracy is unacceptable.

Jerusalem remains a volatile issue to both the Israelis and Palestinians as far as they are concerned, emotionally and politically. But it is also true that whatever the future of Jerusalem is to be, to remove it from the negotiating table altogether would make any talks meaningless.

Palestinians have the right to statehood, good health care, access to education, freedom of movement and above all the right to live in peace with Israel and these rights are what we expect Tzipi to pursue if she eventually grabs the office. Israel has also got the right to statehood and existence and that should be guaranteed by all including the Palestinians and especially the Hamas. They should and must renounce their violence and recognise the State of Israel as well as quickly organise itself as a pure political party and severe all links with terrorist groups and countries.

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