Peace! Never! Israeli-Palestinian co-existence projects are a waste of money!

The consensus - peace is not possible.
The most to expect - mitigating the conflict.
Still campaigning for co-existence
From The Economist

There is still no shortage of Israeli-Palestinian co-existence projects, but serious activists are more sceptical of them than they used to be

PEACE between Palestinians and Israelis is not a problem; anyone can make it. This summer alone, a group called the June 5th Initiative ran a series of “peace days” and conferences in Israel, the West Bank and several other countries. The Sulha—reconciliation, in Arabic—Peace Project held a three-day new-age-style festival. A thousand young Jewish and Arab would-be football stars competed in a “Mini World Cup”.

Countless others went to peace camps and summer schools in Israel and abroad. An 86-year-old Californian Jew donated 12 surfboards to Gaza and called it “Surfing for Peace”. Previous attractions have included a “hip-hop sulha” by Arab and Jewish rappers; an olive oil blended from the produce of Israeli and Palestinian farmers; and an Israeli-Palestinian comedy tour. Add in long-established projects such as the Jerusalem peace circus, Fighters for Peace (Israeli ex-soldiers joining up with Palestinian ex-guerrillas), a host of mixed Jewish-Arab villages, schools, youth groups, environmental bodies, magazines and websites, a peace phone line, two peace radio stations and much more besides, and the churlish might ask: if so many people are intent on making peace, why hasn't it happened by now? Or more fairly: do such “co-existence” projects actually change anything for the good?

Seven years after the last serious peace talks collapsed, polls show that most Israelis and Palestinians still think a two-state solution is the only viable end to their conflict. A joint lobby group, OneVoice, hopes to get a million of their signatures on a petition calling for immediate peace talks; it has 435,000 so far. But their views on the details, such as the borders and the fate of Palestinian refugees, remain far apart, and most doubt it will happen in the next few years. When Israel's main peace groups called a rally in June to mark 40 years of occupation, perhaps 4,000 people turned up. The many hundreds of Israeli and thousands of Palestinian deaths during the second intifada have hardened hearts; Israeli security measures have rendered most of the projects that brought together Israelis and Palestinians across the Green Line (the pre-1967 border) impossible.

Plenty of philanthropists—usually Jewish ones—are still happy to fund Israeli-Palestinian get-togethers “based on the mistaken European assumption that every conflict is based on a misunderstanding”, as the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, a reluctant beneficiary of many such events, recently put it. Plenty of people are happy to take their money. But the more serious donors have been shifting their approach.

The start of the intifada, says Amnon Be'eri-Sulitzeano, the director in Israel of the Abraham Fund, was “a big bang in the co-existence world. Many activists realised that just bringing people together isn't enough.” Palestinians were unhappy that such projects often ignored the inequalities between them and Israeli Jews, or acted as a conscience-salve for the Israelis. “Existence first, co-existence later”, became a common Palestinian slogan.

The Abraham Fund now concentrates on improving the way Israel's Jewish majority treats Arab-Israelis. It pays for cultural-awareness training for the police and Arabic lessons for young Jewish schoolchildren (the mandatory teaching starts late and there are many exemptions). One grantee, the Centre for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, runs schemes to lessen job discrimination against Arab-Israelis, who, though a fifth of the population, contribute less than a tenth of GDP.

...much more...

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