How Can We Still Pretend to Be for Peace? Let Me Count the Ways

On December 13th the New York Times promoted 10 paths to peace in Gaza. I had been wondering where the pretense had gone. We teach our children to be honest and responsible, and they watch COP28 lie and destroy like COPS 1 through 27. We teach them to talk rather than hit, and they watch Genocide Joe oversee mass murder. Aren’t we a-bit-more-than-usual at a point where we need either a revolution of values or a big delivery of grade-A horse manure? The latter was of course more likely. Here it is.

One of the 10 paths to peace — this one from Ehud Olmert — is for Israel to complete its “campaign to remove Hamas from power and destroy its ability to fight” and then send in NATO troops. Since this would fit perfectly on a list of 10 paths to violent chaos, I’m hopeful that when the New York Times publishes a collection of paths to war it will let me contribute some paragraphs on ceasing to arm, fund, or veto-protect Israeli genocide.

A second path to peace — this one from Diana Buttu — is to let Palestinians govern themselves. Well, of course, but how can they do that when they are dead? Are they supposed to do it while the bombs are still falling, or only after they happen to stop?

A third path to peace — from Raja Khalidi — is to provide actual aid, funding for food and medicine and reconstruction. Indeed, that is the urgently needed Step 2. It cannot even wait and needs to accompany an immediate Step 1. But isn’t Step 1 to stop killing everybody? And doesn’t that require that the United States government (and to a much lesser extent some other governments) cease shipping weapons to Israel and cease vetoing the will of the world at the United Nations?

Not to worry. A fourth path to peace — by Bernard Avishai and Ezzedine Fishere — focuses on Joe Biden. But the advice to Biden is to pretend that Palestinians respect him, and to repeat as if brand-new and brilliant the generations-old idea of halting settlements and achieving a . . . wait for it . . . Two State Solution. And he should make sure it’s heavily militarized and create a “sort of Arab NATO.”

Meanwhile, in a fifth path to peace — from Jerome M. Segal — Gaza should be made into a nation. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But when the Nazis were gassing people in camps, and the U.S. government was pretending it could do nothing to evacuate future victims — the world at least had the decency not to declare the path to saving them to be making Auschwitz an independent state. It would have been a great thing — don’t get me wrong — but it would have been a state surrounded by a state seeking the elimination of its population. The root of the problem would seem to have been missed.

A sixth path to peace — from May Pundak and Dahlia Scheindlin — is a bit better of an idea: the two-state solution but with a confederation making it a little of a one-state solution. But there’s nothing about stopping the mass-murder or making this solution happen.

In a seventh path to peace — from Sulaiman Khatib and Avner Wishnitzer — projects should bring Israelis and Palestinians together to develop a culture of peace. Yes. Absolutely. But the Palestinians should be alive for the occasion. Any Israeli brave enough to make it into Gaza and announce a meeting for developing a culture of peace is brave enough to lie down in front of the next doorway Netanyahu has to walk through. I think it’s clear which is more needed right now.

An eighth path to peace — from Limor Yehuda, Omar M. Dajani and John McGarry — would put the UN in charge, as would a ninth from Emma Bapt and Adam Day. But why imagine the UN — post-war — doing something it’s never done when the UN needs desperately to abolish the veto and work to end the killing, and thus far has proved incapable of even that?

A tenth path to peace — from Peter Beinart — says essentially that Israel should stop the slaughter and treat the crimes of October 7 as crimes rather than excuses for larger crimes, free prisoners, and allow self-governance. “Will Benjamin Netanyahu’s government do any of this? Not a chance. But polls suggest that his Likud party may suffer a historic collapse when Israelis next vote. The Biden administration should make it clear that America’s relationship with Israel will depend on its next government pursuing a different path.” But how can Biden make such a thing clear while shipping over endless weapons, pushing grotesque propaganda, and vetoing any accountability to international bodies? He cannot.

I’m reminded of a school board member here in Virginia who wanted to approve recognizing the International Day of Peace as long as it could be made clear that he wasn’t against any wars. Everybody’s for peace, from the let’s-make-friends people to the send-in-NATO people. But nobody wants to be against war. Of these 10, only Beinart says to end it. Of course, some of these authors are in fact against the war. But that doesn’t make it into the New York Times’ comprehensive guide to achieving peace, almost all of which simply assumes that peace will come, and most of which is slightly hairbrained schemes for what to do after that.

I’ve got ten better ideas:

  1. Much bigger marches, rallies, protests, demonstrations, banner drops.
  2. More nonviolent blocking of ports, trains, factory doors, and of everything needed to get the weapons to the murder scene.
  3. More disruption of media broadcasts, stink-tank seminars, state-dinners, and profiteer gatherings.
  4. More pressure on educational institutions, from elementary schools to universities, to find the courage now that even children’s books will celebrate others having had decades from now if we are still here.
  5. More sharing, spreading, broadcasting, and highlighting of the videos, photos, and voices from eloquent laments to inarticulate screams coming from the site of the genocide.
  6. Organized pressure on every government on Earth to actually go beyond remarking that a genocide is underway and invoke the Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice.
  7. Pressure on every nation on Earth to engage in BDS and to extend it to include Israel and the United States.
  8. Smart strategic willingness to not stupidly support violence, and to not counterproductively use any words that backers of genocide will find it easy to misunderstand or to pretend to misunderstand as supporting the sorts of things they support.
  9. Smart strategic messaging and educating on the need to abolish all war and all militarism, not just one war in particular, if we are going to be able to address the non-optional crises that COP28 is pretending so absurdly to be taking on.
  10. Send this to the New York Times.

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