A Middle East Twofer
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: April 3, 2012
Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, reported last week that the imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti “released an unusual statement from his cell. He called on his people to start a popular uprising against Israel, to stop negotiations and security coordination and to boycott [Israel]. Barghouti recommended that his people choose nonviolent opposition.” Barghouti, as Haaretz noted, “is the most authentic leader Fatah has produced, and he can lead his people to an agreement. ... If Israel had wanted an agreement with the Palestinians it would have released him from prison by now.”
I had gotten to know Barghouti before his five life sentences for involvement in killing Israelis. His call for nonviolent resistance is noteworthy and the latest in a series of appeals to and by Palestinians — coming from all over — to summon their own “Arab Awakening,” but do it nonviolently, with civil disobedience or boycotts of Israel, Israeli settlements or Israeli products.
I can certainly see the efficacy of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank — on one condition: They accompany any boycotts, sit-ins or hunger strikes with a detailed map of the final two-state settlement they are seeking. Just calling for “an end to occupation” won’t cut it.
Palestinians need to accompany every boycott, hunger strike or rock they throw at Israel with a map delineating how, for peace, they would accept getting back 95 percent of the West Bank and all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and would swap the other 5 percent for land inside pre-1967 Israel. Such an arrangement would allow some 75 percent of the Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank, while still giving Palestinians 100 percent of the land back. (For map examples see: the Geneva Parameters or David Makovsky’s at: http://washingtoninstitute.org/pubPDFs/StrategicReport06.pdf.)
By Palestinians engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience in the West Bank with one hand and carrying a map of a reasonable two-state settlement in the other, they will be adopting the only strategy that will end the Israeli occupation: Making Israelis feel morally insecure but strategically secure. The Iron Law of the peace process is that whoever makes the Israeli silent majority feel morally insecure about occupation but strategically secure in Israel wins.
After Anwar Sadat flew to Jerusalem, Israelis knew there was no way morally that they could hold onto the Sinai and strategically they did not feel the need to any longer. The first intifada, which focused on stone-throwing, got Palestinians Oslo. The second intifada, which was focused on suicide bombing of restaurants in Tel Aviv, got them the wall around the West Bank; Israelis felt sufficiently strategically insecure and morally secure to lock all Palestinians in a big jail. Today, nothing makes Israelis feel more strategically insecure and morally secure than Hamas’s demented shelling of Israel from Gaza, even after Israel unilaterally withdrew.
Unabated, disruptive Palestinian civil disobedience in the West Bank, coupled with a map delineating a deal most Israelis would buy, is precisely what would make Israelis feel morally insecure but strategically secure and revive the Israeli peace camp. It is the only Palestinian strategy Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu fears, but it is one that he is sure Palestinians would never adopt. He thinks it’s not in their culture. Will they surprise him?