Peace process needs broader engagement of moderate activists: shut out the extremists

Obama needs a conference of peace activists
Saudi Gazette Sunday August 11, 2013
By Ray Hanania

“Peace process needs broader engagement of moderate activists: shut out the extremists”

One reason why Secretary of State John Kerry insists that Israeli-Palestinian negotiators must remain quiet about details of the negotiations is because of the lack of a strong peace advocacy movement on both sides.

Kerry recognizes that the rejectionists among the Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, are louder, stronger and more determined than those who support peace.

So every detail that is leaked is given a negative spin by the haters who are the majority in Israel and among the Palestinian activists.

The advocates of peace are so weary of the battle for compromise that their voices are negligible, ineffective and off the radar screen.

They rarely work together.

The peace movement needs advocates, but there is no substantive grassroots peace movement among Israelis and Palestinians, only scattered remnants of hopeless futility from the past.

The Israeli peace organizations of the past and the few Arab groups in the West that support peace have no strong base. They exist but only as shells of what they are. In the case of the Arab organizations, many are run like dictatorships by presidents-for-life.

This peace process started in the closed backroom doors of political sanity, pushed by the administration of President Barack Obama and are driven by political considerations not as a result of an “Arab Spring” for peace.

Thank goodness, though. The Arab Spring is proving to be a conversion process for new dictatorships put in place under the guise of democracy.

Past peace efforts fell victim to the growing hate activism among the Israelis and Palestinians. At least this one prevents these haters from grabbing an aspect of the talks and using that to derail the negotiations.

Hate brings together the majority of Israelis who oppose peace. It’s the only factor that moves them. Hate also brings together the Arabs.

Peace doesn’t seem to bring anyone together. That’s why President Obama should step in an help the peace activism movement, not by favoring the ineffective groups that now dominate the horizon but by convening an Activist Peace Conference that reaches far beyond the limited scopes of the existing groups.

The Internet has added to the problem. The loudest haters have the largest Twitter and Facebook followings. Hate is like a magnet. Human beings will tell you how much they hate tragedy, but tragedy and hate are exactly what grabs their attention.

What needs to happen is to stop enabling the haters. Stop empowering them through lack of activism and through the deafening silence of the pro-peace groups that now exist in dysfunctional limbo.

Moderates need to stand up and speak out. They need to cleanse themselves of associations with fanatics and support other moderates who support peace based on compromise.

And that is the litmus test. Peace based on compromise. Peace can be a terrible thing that comes from conquest. Conquest is what the haters and extremists want. They want to defeat the other side, but in reality they will never defeat anyone. All the haters and extremists can do is prolong the conflict and prevent peace based on compromise. The haters and extremists reject compromise more than they reject the “enemy.”

The burden is on the moderates and on President Obama and Kerry to expand their reach and bring in moderates from around the world, not just the few they coddle in Washington DC. Americans for Peace Now and AAI do not a peace movement make.

Obama and Kerry need to reach out to all of the peace groups and bring them together.

In fact, it might be smart to organize a conference of moderates, inviting everyone who supports peace to Washington DC to represent their interests in support of peace based on compromise, and bringing an end to the Arab-Israeli death cycle.

But don’t just invite the same old faces. Bring out new activists. Create an environment to promote peace, not the presidents-for-life who have the peace movement in an ineffective headlock.

There is no real peace movement today. Obama and Kerry need to help create one, one that is Democratic. One where the leadership is chosen by the community rather than imposed by clout.

Unless Obama and Kerry can stimulate a genuine peace movement of moderates and put in check the selfish interests of the presidents-for-life, who dominate the movement today, the peace process will again fail.

Don’t just blame it on the fanatics and the haters. They are a major part.

But the haters wouldn’t be where they are if it were not for the ineffectiveness, failure and selfish leadership of the existing “moderate” leadership that exists today.

– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.

Categories: Middle East Topics

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