The NAKBA: the Holocaust of the Palestinians
The Path to
Peace through Justice in the Middle East
by Michael R. Burch
The ongoing conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians seems to be
irresolvable; therefore the current "wisdom" has become that "those people" are
full of "hatred" for each other and have been "fighting for thousands of years,"
so there is "no hope for peace." But before we wring our hands or throw them up
helplessly in the air, and before we stereotype Jews and Palestinians (or pick
one side to favor at the expense of the other), we need to consider two very
(1) People who don't like each other can live together in peace, if
everyone is treated equally and is governed by fair laws and fair courts. During
the Holocaust, Jews were treated horrendously by Nazis, and multitudes of Jews
were slaughtered in the most despicable fashion imaginable. However, after
Germany lost the war and came under a system of much fairer laws and courts,
many thousands of Jews were able to live there and chose to do so even when they
were free to leave, despite the fact that there was no sudden "love fest"
between Germans and Jews. Today hundreds of thousands of Jews live in Germany.
And much the same thing is true of the descendents of the black Africans
who were treated so horrendously by white American slaveowners. As soon as the
United States finally began to abolish Jim Crow laws in the Deep South, to their
surprise white racists discovered that they were able to live in peace with the
blacks they hated and despised. And before long, many white Americans came to
the conclusion that they really didn't "hate" blacks, after all. Millions of
them came to the conclusion that the main problem had been racism and injustice
on the part of white Americans, not "inferiority" on the part of blacks. If
Israel were to abandon its current system of systematic, government-sanctioned
racism and apartheid, no doubt something very similar would happen in a
relatively short period of time.
(2) Jews and Palestinians have not been "constantly at war" with each other. For
instance, the New Testament records in considerable detail what life was like in
Israel/Palestine during the first century AD, when Roman laws and courts (the
famous Pax Romana) were imposed on all the natives. The New Testament
doesn't mention any major hostilities between the Jews and Palestinians who
lived in the region at that time. Furthermore, during the Jewish Diaspora (which
lasted for almost 2,000 years) there were always Jews who continued to live in
Palestine. For the most part, they lived in peace with their neighbors. As
Albert Einstein pointed out, Arabs had historically treated the Jews much better
than European Christians had. It was only when Jews began to arrive in Palestine
in ever-increasing numbers, in the early 1900s, that tensions began to mount,
nerves began to fray and both sides (not just the Arabs) began to get violent.
And let's be honest: if millions of Jews had descended on Texas and informed the
locals that in the new Jewish nation of Texas eating bacon and driving to
football games on Saturday would be illegal, all hell would have broken loose
If we consider the historical facts, it seems clear that it is justice that
leads to peace, not lovey-doveyness. And this makes perfect sense, because fair
laws and courts make it expensive to practice racism, because people who break
the law are faced with fines, civil damages and prison terms. Once fair laws and
courts have been established, racists tend to "cool it." Once they stop abusing
other people, their former victims begin to "cool down" also. Before long, all
the people willing to obey the law can live together in relative peace while the
people who choose not to obey the law increasingly end up in jail, or broke.
While the system is not perfect, it has worked much better than the alternatives
in the Deep South, Germany, South Africa and other racial "hot spots" around the
world. Wherever fair laws and courts do not exist, the result is often racial
violence on both sides, with the greater violence being on the part of the
people in power (because the law and courts are slanted to favor them). This is
clearly the case in Israel/Palestine today. As Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jimmy
Carter, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have pointed out, Palestinians have been
subjected to a system of large-scale, systematic, grinding racism, injustice and
But there is hope, if only we can persuade Israel to do what Americans, Germans
and South Africans did: to establish racial justice. If we want peace through
justice with the least amount of violence possible, the necessary first step is
to establish fair laws and courts.
But how can this happen, you may asking. Sure, it makes perfect sense to say
that fair laws and courts are required for peace through justice to take hold,
but what can anyone do to encourage the people in power (the leaders of Israel)
to do what Americans, Germans and South Africans did?
I'm glad you asked! I think the answer is surprisingly, deceptively simple. In
fact, the solution can be stated in a single sentence:
We need a new U.N. resolution requiring Israel to unconditionally establish equal rights, fair laws and fair courts for
every human being under its aegis, without exception; the courts should be subject to peer review by judges appointed by the UN, and
they should be able to set legal precedents.
Any member nation of the U.N. can submit a new resolution, so we don't have to depend on Israeli or American politicians to
"do the right thing." This is the beauty of my plan. Unfortunately to date the
majority of Israeli and American politicians have only paid lip service to their
stated ideals of equal rights, freedom, justice and self-determination for all
human beings. Why? Because politicians are by nature political creatures whose
greatest talent "lies" in getting elected (pun intended). They are much better
at saying the right things, than at doing the right things.
Doing the right things in the matter of the Palestinians would cost them votes
and campaign contributions, so they do what is politically expedient, rather
than what is right. But my idea (stated in bold above) takes this unfortunate
political reality into account and operates through the UN, bypassing flighty
The key to positive change in the Middle East is a new U.N. resolution, backed
by economic sanctions, that the U.S. government cannot veto. And how can the
U.S. veto its own American Creed of equal rights, fair laws and fair courts for
all human beings?
Only the U.S. Security Council veto has blocked past efforts by the U.N. to bring peace to the
region. But how can the U.S. veto the American Creed of equal rights, fair laws and fair courts? So the key
is a new U.N. resolution based on the American Creed.
If Israel complies with this new resolution, then peace through justice becomes
possible, and fair courts can settle disputes over land and water "organically"
over time, even if politicians can't agree to terms diplomatically.
If Israel does not comply with the new resolution, the U.N. can impose economic
sanctions and in due course Israeli voters will "vote their pocketbooks" (a
worldwide democratic phenomenon) and peacefully elect new leaders more amenable
to peace through justice.
Yes, the problems are complex, but the correct path, the right path, is obvious. Fair laws and fair
courts can settle disputes organically, over time, even if politicians cannot agree on what needs to be done. And while American politicians
may never voluntarily do the right thing, we really don’t need them. With a new
U.N. resolution, American politicians won’t have to risk their
jobs. The reform of Israel must come from within, just as did in the US.
With my plan, one way or another the needed reforms will come. Hopefully
Israel will see the "writing on the wall" and voluntarily choose to establish
equal rights, fair laws and fair courts. But even if Israel has be dragged
kicking and screaming into the 21st century (as many Americans had to be dragged
kicking and screaming into the 20th century), the results will be the same. One
way or another, every nation—in order to be
considered civilized—has to establish equal rights
and justice. Israel is not a "special case." The Jews are not a "special case."
The Palestinians are not a "special case." And no, Americans, are not a "special
case." Americans simply need to practice what they preach abroad, as well as at
home. When they do, peace through justice will become possible, and when every
nation has established fair laws and fair courts, world peace will become