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Ray Hanania
Ray Hanania
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The Hallucination of Peace

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Two of my "friends" on Facebook started going at it, as Facebook people often do, over my recent column analyzing the failure of Palestinian activists to achieve any of their goals.

The debate quickly left the topic and started careening over the cliff of Palestinian-Israeli futility at a very high speed. It became obvious that they weren't really listening to each other. Both were repeating the same old arguments that have muddled Palestinian-Israeli peace.

It reminded me about what the real problem is that Palestinians and Israeli face. We don't really care much about peace. We just like to argue.

Arguing is a waste of time, of course. I know that when I write my columns "arguing" a "fact," most Israelis won't listen to me. They don't listen to me anyway, based on the talkbacks posted at the bottom of my columns here.

It's a waste of time because the purpose of arguing isn't to convince someone to change his mind. It's a selfish exercise in ego and pride. We say things to each other to make ourselves feel as if we've struck a blow against the other. It's a kind of twisted form of punishment.

No amount of arguing will change the futility of the failed peace process. We can blame one another, but it won't matter. What will matter is if we decide to simply accept the reality of our circumstances. Palestinians believe something and Israelis believe something else.

And if we accept that, then we must also accept the realization that the only real option is to look ahead, not backwards. Arguing is about looking backwards.

Looking backwards is not the same as remembering or "never forgetting." I'm not advocating that Palestinians or Israelis forget the atrocities that each has inflicted on the other. I am also not saying we ignore the tragedies of history that have brought us to the edge of the abyss, where most Israelis and Palestinians stand oblivious to the impending dangers that lie ahead of us if we fail to achieve peace.

I am saying that it's OK to accept the fact that Palestinians and Israelis basically live in two different realities.

Palestinians believe one thing, and Israelis believe something else.

We could remain like this forever, teetering on the edge of disaster. The disaster could be a modern-day Armageddon. Personally, that's the dark future I see for Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian heritage is being slowly and steadily erased by Israeli stubbornness and arrogance. Israelis refuse to show compassion to Palestinians. To me, that's odd coming from a people who suffered so much during the Holocaust. But someone once explained that people who suffer are less likely to be magnanimous or generous when power returns to them.

Israelis are living in a hallucination of peace. They feel a sense of victory as they watch the secular Palestinians who have argued for two states steadily vanish. What remains is the growing Islamic movement, which is far more powerful than Palestinian secularism ever could hope to be. The Islamic movement will soon have total control over the region, and they're far less likely to compromise.

Israelis are great at seeing the essence of the moment, but their vision becomes blurred when they have to look far down the road. This explains their long-term strategy, which is really a short-term strategy: Israelis take whatever they can get, and they usually get everything, while Arabs demand everything and usually get nothing.

What we need is for both sides to start respecting each other again instead of always trying to insult each other with arguments about "facts."

When it comes to the Palestine-Israel conflict, there are no facts.

What we need to do is accept a foundation for peace. Palestinians recognize Israel, and Israelis recognize Palestine. No violence, no expansion of settlements, and end to the hatred from both sides.

It sounds so simple, but as we know, it's not. It's actually easier to argue incessantly than it is to overcome our emotions and make compromises for peace.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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