16 May 2011

Pray for Peace 2.0

You know the old joke about cemeteries--people are dying to get in.
arbeiter ring gate: mt lebanon, queens
While standing in the gray drizzle in two different Queens cemeteries yesterday for unveilings, looking out over the quiet landscape of the memorialized dead, mapping out lives lived to varying degrees of fulfillment, the hushed air pierced by sounds of cardinals and robins alighting on branches and large planes passing overhead, thousands of living Palestinians crashed fences on Israel's borders in the coordinated maneuver of the Arab Spring 2.0:  Israel/Palestine.

It was only a matter of time.

After twenty years of failed peace talks, radicalized extremes and stubbornly entrenched diplomatic positions held by the mainstream leadership, we seem to have a new chapter on our hands.  Ripped straight from the pages of our own history--Jewish refugees streaming onto the beaches of Tel Aviv and Jaffa under the watchful eye of the British Mandate, facing gunfire and barbed wire, Palestinians attempted the same yesterday in a carefully coordinated protest of Israel's independence.  If the leaders can't deliver a state, the people will.  Such is the apparent thinking.

The funny thing about time is that it doesn't stop.  And the older certain people get, the younger and newer others seem to be.  It's that way with ideas, too.  No one knew exactly when the oppressive dictatorships of the Arab world would come apart at the seams, but most people knew it was bound to happen sooner or later.  And now that energy of rebellion and the demands for democracy and personal freedom have breached the fence, as it were, of the borders of Israel and Palestine.

Complicating matters is the degree to which Egypt (already in the throes of its revolution) Jordan  (holding its breath) Lebanon (a fragile tinderbox) and Syria (diversionary tactics are the tool here) can maintain quiet on its borders or wreak havoc for Israel.  Anthony Shadid, whose reporting all spring has been so great, weighs in today on the Syrian thinking and it's well worth a read.

It makes one wish that rather than waste the last twenty years posturing over positions of entrenchment and mollifying their more extreme political partners, the leaders of Israel and Palestine would have taken the necessary risks *then* in order to not have to pay a far heavier price *now* for what remains an inevitability:  two states for two nations.

The cemeteries yesterday were quiet bordered reposes of the dead.  The grim reality may be that Israel's borders will not be so quiet in the months ahead.

Pray for peace.

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