Friday, May 20, 2011

On Palestine, a Green and Sustainable Peace

Yesterday, US President Barak Obama delivered a speech calling for a renewal of peace talks between Israel and Palestine, and the establishment of a sovereign Palestine. “The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace…The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.”

Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, part of an international effort to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace, said security assurances, provisions for lasting peace cannot be resolved without addressing issues of territory.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that “without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace.”

Around the globe marginal populations and refugees are at risk from looming crises of hunger, water access, environmental deprivation, poverty, urban and rural infrastructure failures continues in many sectors. The need for access, redress and inclusion of foundational populations, those with whom the stability of the entire pyramid of society rests, has been accelerated through the benefits of internet communication, information sharing, even video-chat. And the so-called Arab Spring, beginning most notably with the tragedy of the fruit seller in Tunisia, is resonating throughout communities around the world.

The challenges of the at-risk, foundational, refugee and disenfranchised groups are global, and include many races, circumstances and centuries of struggle. The challenges of the at-risk, foundational, refugee and disenfranchised citizens of Palestine can also be traced for decades and centuries of a struggle-- to live, raise families, and find the futures which fellow citizens around the world also seek. The people of the region are strong, enduring, and able to see a present and a future which can move beyond the traps, and the missed opportunities for peace, of the past. We can face these struggles together; we can attain a sustainable foothold along the pathway to life, in Palestine, in the region, in the world—common ground can be found. Through small steps towards sustainability, large steps in finding and celebrating our coexistent lives can be taken.

Part of what makes partner nations in the UN great is the strength of our shared, and ‘Universal,’ human rights, our freedoms. The enrichment of our cultures and communities stems from the contributions of all members of our societies. A walk through the “Main Streets” of any community will show people, families and neighbors who want to live their lives, and achieve better lives for their children.

We, the peoples of the partner nations, can see the similarities in our lives. We are governed within national frameworks which uphold sovereign rights, and complicated balances of trade, finance, resources, environmental responsibility.

Yet we, each, and all, are party to the decisions of the governments which pilot the paths to our futures. We, each and all, share the terrible costs of war, pollution, depletion and exclusion. We, each and all, share and are responsible for securing and achieving the global potential for peace,  security and sustainability for all our peoples, our environments, our economies and societies—for our survival.

What if we could take steps to bridge our differences, to walk together towards a more peaceful and sustainable world with expanded understanding, enriched cultures, improved environments? What if, in the case of Palestine, we could walk together, work together, to help the ordinary people of Palestine build a green, sustainable, sovereign state? What if scholars, scientists, experts and citizens, could work together to enable the people of Palestine sustainable access to work, education, medical care, adequate food, water, energy and resources? And, since projects based in reason, sustainable infrastructure and environmental practices, and community-based/nationally-supported responsibility are replicable, what if a green-solution for Palestine could become a blueprint for bringing security and sustainability to peoples around the world?

There are so many educated young people, in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Libya, in nations around the world, caught between a vision of a future filled with joblessness, disenfranchisement, fear and violence—or a future filled with possibilities, where time could be spent in service to benefit their home communities, their neighbor’s communities—while they learn to utilize their skills and trades to find solutions to deprivation and depletion. There are many young people, and parent generations, in Palestine, in the region, around the globe, who could work together, supported with internet technologies, sharing experiences, preserving indigenous and cultural heritages. We can work and walk together, to learn skills, trades, arts which can enrich lives and, finally, to achieve a goal of generations and attain adequate resources, peace, and a hopeful future. In Palestine, right now, there is a chance to attain a safe, secure, and sustainable future that could be, should be, shared— with families, neighbors, and society at large.

The root causes of terrorism, disenfranchisement, refugee status, of impoverishment and exclusion could and should be addressed. The root causes of environmental depletions, inadequate supply and sourcing of water, food, energy and resources could and should be addressed. The root causes of fear between the precariously balanced peoples of Palestine and Israel could and should be addressed.

What if we, ordinary citizens, scholars, experts, could harness the knowledge necessary, recruit the corps of business, scientific and educational partners required, and forge service projects which could bridge gaps between an impoverished and endangered present and a stable and resilient future? There is no single straight line between our concerns, conflicts, and crises today, and the potential for the realization of human rights, peace, stability, security and sustainability tomorrow. But what if we could agree on a place to start? Or what if we, simply, decided to begin to build a green and resilient future?

What if Palestine could become a shining cornerstone of our shared development, utilizing renewable technologies, sustainable food and water and resourcing, universal concepts of rights and balance between peoples and species on our interdependent planet? Would then the relationship between neighbors, and neighbor-nations see a cessation of the reasons for conflict? Our shared cultural intelligence should promote the concept that our progress as a species, our peace and sustainability, must be attained in concert with the development of all ‘others’—the foundational peoples of our shared existence.

The service projects, in Palestine, and wherever else needed, could and should foster collaboration between specialists, scholars, and the young people of many nations, to mitigate the threats to shared borders between Palestine and Israel, the regions of the Middle East, and the world at large. To mitigate the threats to our human development, to contribute to the development of sustainable practices—creating green jobs, arable soil, secure water supplies, renewable energies, developing medical solutions to health crises, digitizing the huge compendium of human knowledge and records, of Palestinian culture, of regional culture, expanding partnerships among Palestinians and the commerce of the peoples of the globe—now is the time to work, in Palestine, in all endangered, foundational communities, to create healthier environments, better lives, secure futures.

Experts, scholars, elders from each nation, from each community could guide the selection and development of those projects most needed to improve the sustainability of life in each community, in each segment of the sovereign societies of Palestine, and, by extension, the region, the world. Based in community, founded in individual strengths and responsibility; working together, these vital contributions could build, each upon the other, the quality of life for those in the communities. The young people from host and neighboring nations and communities, working without the baggage of prejudice and years of national/international distrust, could realize their similarities, serve together to achieve common goals, improve and enrich the condition of life for all.

Palestine cannot survive as it is. The world cannot stand by and let Palestine perish. The recognition of shared responsibility, of shared effort and shared achievements could transcend misunderstandings and divisions between sects and locales, habits and beliefs, between poverty and potential, between crisis and stability.
Over the centuries of our shared history, many people have grappled with the problems facing the world’s peoples, challenging their religions, their governments, testing their shared responsibilities and their perceived differences. The knowledge of the ages rests in the writings and speeches, is seen in the choices and actions of these visionaries, scholars, and leaders. In our shared march toward the future, can we undertake to support a partnership of service which could form a corps of young people, and the generational foundations of all peoples, and through investing in the futures of these young people, invest in the future of humankind?

In his “On a New Beginning” speech in Egypt, 2009, US President Barak Obama spoke of forging new levels of trust based “on the sharing of common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and dignity of all human beings.” And, as he concluded, “It won’t always be easy, but if we make an effort to bridge our differences rather than resigning ourselves to animosity, we can move forward toward a more peaceful world over time.”

Palestine can find a place for a sustainable future, and the security of Israel, the region, and all our shared planet will be more assured, our peace, economic, and environmental frameworks more sustainable, through building a resilient green corridor, which can extend from Palestine, to Israel, through the region of the Middle East, Northern and all of Africa, and the world. We have but to begin, to take a step, together.

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