by Elias Aoun
Exclusive for Al Waref
The quest for Middle East peace has deluded many who sought it. Different experts project different viewpoints, but the pursuit of “the answer” continues – although “the answer” does exist, but there is a letdown in its promotion and implementation.
Wars have been waged between nations, religious groups, and parties – and sometimes within the same nation, religious group, or party. In addition to military conflicts, other issues impacting the region may be classified as (1) disrespect or indifference for individual rights; (2) the lack of a truly free society; (3) religious indoctrination aimed at control rather than spiritual understanding, and (4) political and economic centralization at the expense of people’s well-being,
To make an impact in resolving any political issue, the concepts of freedom, individual rights, people’s rights to determine their own destiny, and the promotion of patterns of ideas and models that have been proven to work in parts of the world that enjoy peace are the foundational elements for meaningful and constructive change.
The “Republic model” based on a combination of unalienable rights, a free society, and people’s will to define their own destiny has been proven historically to be a successful formula for peace and co-existence wherever that model was properly implemented. It is a combination of these concepts that the Middle East desperately needs. It is these concepts that the political establishment must adopt. Instead, what we have today is the promotion of “democracy” and “land for peace.”
Democracy or a Republic?
Lebanon is a perfect example to the failure of “democracy” in the context of a “majority rule” concept. After the 2005 Lebanese Parliamentary election, the first act of the new parliamentary “majority” was to dismantle Lebanon’s Constitutional Council. Their deed would be likened to a U.S. Congress dismantling the U.S. Supreme Court.
A leading figure of the Lebanese “majority bloc” has, for decades now, confiscated homes and properties of Lebanese within his district – and continues to do so until today in a “democracy.” From a security standpoint, the “majority” transformed the country into a police state through the establishment of an illegal “security” apparatus.
In other words, “democracy” has become a means to achieve “undemocratic” ends – with the “majority” perceiving itself as having the power to do anything it chooses. Whether the act is illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral is of no importance to them as long as the “majority” has “democratically” chosen to commit that act.
The Arab people do not need a “democracy” that justifies their abuse by some “democratic majority.” Instead, each Arab nation must act as a genuine “Republic” where unalienable rights and freedoms are protected regardless of the magnitude of the elected majority.
“Land for Peace” or “Justice for Peace”?
The Arab understanding of the “land for peace” concept is that Israel should return occupied territories, or at least some of them, to the Arabs – in exchange for peace.
Some Israeli understanding of the concept is that Israel should keep all the land and the Palestinians should settle somewhere else –in exchange for peace.
Regardless of how the land is finally divided, it cannot and does not by itself ensure peace if (1) each side reserves for itself the right to attack the other at will under whatever pretext, and/or (2) any side lacks a constitutional charter that places limits on its government to prevent it from trespassing on people’s rights.
To some extent, the fundamental question is not how much land for peace. The question must be: Does an individual – Christian, Muslim, or Jew – living in either Israel or Palestine, has the same equal rights as everyone else? If the answer is yes, then peace has a chance. If the answer is no, then an agreement on the size of land may not lead to a stable peace. The injustice inflicted due to the discriminatory treatment would eventually undermine any form of coexistence – be it in one nation, or two.
There is no shortage of solutions for the Middle East, and the region’s fate will depend on the models it chooses to follow. The quality of the chosen models will depend on the quality of the individuals making the decisions – and the willingness of decision-makers not only to listen, but to act in accordance with specifically defined principles proven to achieve genuine peace.