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an experience in France

Reader comment on item: How the Cartoon Protests Harm Muslims [by Leading to a Separation of Civilizations]

Submitted by martin bertman (United States), Feb 14, 2006 at 17:20

Dear Pipes,

Let me offer an experience. Four years ago, for the second time, after the year before, I taught a month long seminar in the Philosphy Department of Universite de Nantes. (I just retired after 14 years teaching political philosophy at Helsinki University.)
My firend and host, the VIce-President of the University asked me to give a public lecture in the city on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, knowing that I was both an Israeli and a US citizen and had been Full Prof at Ben Gurion Uni for 3 years.I said I did not know much that was factual but he insisted.I did that the evening before I was to depart Nantes.

So to about 60 towns people of Nantes, I gave a lecture whose object was peace among those who did not trust one another. My rehetorical strategy was unusual; First, I said I remembered the VIchy Government and European Anti-Jewish behavior during WWII and that I did not trust the Europeans or the Palestineans. But, the point is to find a structure for peace.

So, I offered 5 proposals, saying if others disagreed with these to amend them or give any other suggestions that would result in peace. That was the point not who was historically right or wrong.
The proposals were these:
1. Israel gives up about 90 to 95 percent of the setlements.
2. Jerusalem could be the capital of both nations.
3. The Palestinians would be run by nationals from say Scandanavia for a period of 12 years who would control monies to build up the country, disarm and control militants, and guard the borders, taking that over from the Israelis. The purpose is to have a two state solution at the end of the timeperiod.
4. The schools --texts-- and public remarks would not preach hated and efforts would be made for reconciliation in all public forums.Exchanges of the young of each "nation" would be encouraged.
5. A group of 5 Israelis and 5 Palestinians, respected persons, would attempt to diffuse various hatred and especially deal with the young.

The reaction to this proposal hardened my liberal tendencies. The French in the audience did not say much; they seemed afraid of the many vocal Arabs in the audience who were insulted by my proposals, particularly 3. It went against their dignity of being capable of handling their own affairs. So I continually asked for other suggestions that would be more to their liking with the object of creating peace. I received not one suggestion; instead, I was called a Likkudnik.

In fact, I was threatened when I left the lecture.

I am convinced that any relation with the Palestinians must include a threatening hostility and one cannot count on reasonable compromise, except as it may be imposed by extraneous events. Nebbach!
martin (mich'l) bertman

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