Much will be said in the coming days and weeks about what negotiations mean, what Israel and the Palestinians are willing to do and give up, whether the gap is just too wide, and whether a two-state solution is possible given current thinking on both sides.
I have just begun reading an important new book published last year called Side By Side – Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine edited by Sami Adwan, Dan Bar-on (zal), and Eyal Naveh of the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME). Developed over the last 15 years by Palestinian and Israeli scholars and educators, this work represents a wholly new way of teaching the Middle East to Israeli and Palestinian High School students. Regardless of one’s identity, both sides likely will be surprised that, more often than not, each holds a one-dimensional view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will obstruct peace-making.
The two narratives and interpretations of the meaning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are set side by side in 400 pages. Clearly, we live in two worlds and our understanding of the same historical events are very different.
Each side's better understanding of the “narrative” of the other will hopefully result in a softening and opening of the heart to the other’s identity and experience.
No one in the Middle East wants to be a fry-ar (Israeli slang; “sucker”). Negotiations will be very difficult.
We here should be giving Secretary Kerry every benefit of the doubt in his efforts to facilitate negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians towards a two-state solution and a peaceful resolution of this conflict. Criticism of Kerry should be silenced. Mocking him, especially by Jewish media pundits, should be quelled. What is important now is to support this renewal of negotiations. The alternative to a two states for two peoples resolution is more war, more suffering and a darkening of the landscape to death and the destruction of dreams.