Arabs and Israelis held hostage by a common enemy
Salom Now! And METalks are two experimental initiatives which sought to rewrite the script of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and give ordinary people a starring role in the quest for peace. Those involved experienced profound changes to their outlook and took the first steps towards forging a new, more inclusive narrative for the Middle East. However, such popular, grassroots action is held hostage by some common enemies: despair, hatred, antipathy and distrust.
Part I – War and elusive peace
Part II – Talking under fire
Part III – Dangerous liaisons
Part IV – Constructive ideas
Part V – Let’s talk about you and ME
Part VI – Terrorised by a common enemy
Part VII – Existential angst
Part VIII – Moving forward
Let’s talk about you and ME
Motivated by the conflict in Lebanon, Anat el-Hashahar says she established METalks.com to help Arabs and Israelis to humanise each other and better understand the way the other side thinks through dialogue and debate.
“I was born back when Israel had peace with no Arab country. We grew up dreaming of peace with our neighbours,” she confesses. “We have achieved that with Egypt and Jordan. The very thought of maybe, just maybe, reaching a state of peace with all neighbouring countries sends shivers down my spine, for real.”
Those who took the leap of faith and made the time to engage in this experiment learned a lot about the socio-political situation on the ‘other side’ and made new contacts, myself included. I spent too many hours burning the late night oil, pondering and debating complex questions with the others, soul-searching, wracking my brains, holding back my temper, hoping, despairing, distressing, aspiring.
There were interesting and intelligent debates over Jewish and Arab identity, Palestinian nationhood, the one-state solution, opinions over the role of the Israeli military, Israel’s so-called ‘deterrent posture’, and much more.
Sadly, some debates revealed the worst forms of bigotry on both sides of the conflict – and too much energy was wasted arguing about the mythical ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and the hugely exaggerated threat posed by Islamic extremism.
Members were also encouraged to socialise and get to know one another on a personal level. “I almost think that the social forum here may, in fact, be most important of all, if and when there are many people on both sides of the conflict talking silly and exchanging jokes and personal trivia,” believes Werbeloff.
Unfortunately, the forum ground to a halt weeks after the fighting in Lebanon ended. Faced as it was with few new members arriving, growing recrimination and the constant, depressing daily attrition on the ground, the dialogue simply lost steam.
Read the Salom Now! draft manifesto
Madrid II: towards a civil peace in the Middle East
November 2006 – Prompted by the dire situation in Gaza, Spain, France and Italy have floated an unexpected Middle East peace drive. This initiative will almost certainly join other similar aborted road maps and peace plans slowly decaying in the graveyard of international diplomacy. What the EU needs to do is to abandon the deadlocked political level and organise a high-profile Madrid II conference targeted at civil society to set in motion a ‘people’s peace process’. Read on
How I learned to start worrying and hate the bomb
November 2006 – With North Korea’s recent nuclear test and Iran’s suspected nuclear designs, Khaled Diab explains why he learned to start worrying and hate the bomb and suggests how the proliferation of nuclear weapons can best be arrested – and reversed. Read on
Give ‘salom’ a chance
September 2006 – The best lessons to draw from Lebanon and Gaza are that all sides lost the battle and the only way for everyone to win the war is through peaceful means. Politicians have shown a lack of imagination and willpower and so it is up to ordinary Arabs and Israelis to lead them down the path to salam/shalom (peace). It is high time to demand Salom Now! Read on
Reaching out for a people’s peace in the Middle East
Using a carrot and stick for peace
September 2006 – Given the fragile situation in Lebanon, the pledge by EU member states to provide troops to police the UN-backed ceasefire was well-timed. However, to avoid a fresh crisis from erupting, Europe will have to aid efforts to forge lasting peace in the Middle East. Read on
Mobilising the untapped power of Arab and Israeli peaceniks
Part I – Silent world
Part II – Peace begins at home
From complete failure to comprehensive solutions
July 2006 – Israel’s
massive onslaught against
February 2006 – It may be better for the EU to provide more carrots and fewer sticks for Hamas, writes Khaled Diab. Read on
Time to rethink the EU’s role in the Middle East
January 2005 – If Yasser Arafat’s death is to signify anything more than the symbolic start of a new era, the European Union must radically rethink its role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to persuade the two peoples to work towards a new dawn. Read on
Commission wants closer EU-Israeli ties
January 2005 – The European Commission and the EU’s
former envoy to the Middle East have both come out in favour of enhancing
economic and political ties with