The PFMEP Blog

The PFMEP Blog focuses on advancing Middle East Peace.

Thoughtful comments on blog articles can provide additional insight and stimulate productive debate. We welcome comments from a diverse group of contributors.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace

The Two-State Solution: New Study Documents Benefits

A new study by the Rand Corporation released this week illustrates the economic benefits of the Two-State Solution. The study estimates an economic benefit of $150 billion dollars for Israelis and $50 billion for Palestinians over a ten-year period, with both peoples benefitting. It predicts a 36% increase in per capita income for Palestinians over the same time frame.

The study also analyzes additional scenarios, none of which provide the economic benefit of the Two-State Solution. The Two-State Solution is based on a foundation of self-determination for Palestinians and security for Israelis. A second scenario analyzed in the Rand report is one promoted by the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which calls for economic pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank without a commitment of peace from Palestinians. Under this scenario, both Israelis and Palestinians suffer economic losses, as economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians disintegrates. By pursuing the economic pressure strategy, the losses for the Palestinians are even greater when viewed as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product.

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace

Netanyahu wins Israeli election and Palestinians lose in U.S. court

The recent Israeli election was a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although only 24% of Israeli voters cast ballots for Netanyahu's Likud party, it was enough to ensure that the incoming Israeli administration will likely be led by Mr. Netanyahu. The victory came with a cost. To attract votes from the Israeli right wing, the Prime Minister made deplorable statements widely understood to be an outright rejection of the two-state solution and implored Israeli Jews to vote because Israeli Arabs were voting in large numbers. These statements were condemned by many groups ranging from Jewish organizations in the U.S. to the U.S State Department. We at PFMEP join in condemning political rhetoric that hinders the cause of peace for nothing more than political advantage, and PM Netanyahu’s statements reside squarely in that category. Days after the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s seeming reversal of his earlier statement on Palestinian statehood and apologies for his comments about Israeli Arabs have failed to remedy the situation he created.

In such a milieu, it is hard to retain hope for a two-state solution, but we are people of faith, not people who pursue political expediency. We work over the long term, not for short-term political ends. A two-state solution is the only possible just peace. It is the only option that allows both Palestinians and Israelis to have self-determination. It is the only option that has widespread international support. This is not a time to abandon the strategy. It is a time to insist on the strategy.

Mike Gizzi

Israel through new eyes - a reflection

I returned home from two weeks in Israel three days ago. My trip was a university-sponsored one, to do the planning for a peace studies study abroad class, and a personal one, where I was on a fact-finding mission to gain my own perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I had heard the narrative that the pro-divestment proponents had put forth at GA, and wanted to see Israel on my own terms.    

In the time since I returned to Illinois, I have spent a lot of time looking at and sorting through the more than 5,000 photos I took and re-reading the daily blogs that I wrote. So many things jumped out at me. This was a trip unlike anything I have ever done. Ever. This is my first take at summarizing my experiences. 

Going to Israel was way outside of my comfort zone. I am talking thousands of miles outside of it. Forget the fact that I do not like flying, this was going to a country in one of the biggest hot spots of the world, where just seven months ago a war was going on.  So, Israel was way out of my comfort zone, yet going there somehow resulted in considerably expanding my comfort zone. There was not a single moment when I was in Israel or on the West Bank when I felt unsafe. I never had a panic attack, I was totally comfortable with my inability to understand more than a handful of words in either Hebrew or Arabic. It simply did not matter.  

Along the way, something incredible happened. I came to see the diverse cultures and people that live in Israel, the beauty and diversity of the land, and the religious significance and sense of the sacred present in the holy sites of the Abrahamic faiths.   I saw the green rolling terrain of the Galilee (which to my biblical-influenced mind looked nothing like it), the snow-covered terrain of the Golan Heights, the beauty of the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Ein Hod to Tel Aviv and Jaffa, the hills of Jerusalem, the desert-like features of much of the West Bank (which more closely resembled my biblical images), the green of the Jordan River valley at Jericho, and the classical desert of the Dead Sea and Masada. All within a few hours of each other. All different. All Israel.

Recent comment in this post
Guest — Mary Jane Card

Visiting Israel

I had a comparable experience as the author of this piece. Since that time I have been learning as much as possible about the hist... Read More
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 07:23
John Wimberly

Here We Go Again

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) announced the membership of a group authorized by the 2014 General Assembly to study the two state solution as a peacemaking strategy for Israel and Palestine. Sadly, ACSWP has chosen to create a study team with an ideological imbalance that predetermines the result of its work. In the lead-up to the study team’s creation, ACSWP stressed that it would find experts to produce an objective analysis of the situation in the Middle East.  Instead, ACSWP has chosen several well-known pro-divestment activists to serve on the committee.  One member has written media op-ed pieces lobbying for the PCUSA to pass divestment overtures.  Another study group member was a staff person and current board member of Friends of Sabeel, an early leader in the divestment movement. 

Recent comment in this post
Guest — Mary Jane Card

Here we go again, for sure.

I was relieved to find this on line and learn that some of Presbyterian persuasion are concerned with the BDS movement and it's un... Read More
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 17:10
George Douglas

Jihad in Paris

 

The horrific jihadist attacks in Paris have the world reeling. As Paris dominated the headlines, the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram massacred over 2,000 innocent people in Northeast Nigeria. In Iraq and Syria, the shockingly brutal jihadist group known as Daesh or Islamic State continues to wreak havoc. Just a few short weeks ago the world faced the horror of over 140 precious and innocent schoolchildren murdered by the Taliban in Pakistan. We keep all of the innocent victims in our prayers, and it is difficult to imagine the pain and grief these terrible attacks have caused their families and friends. Taken in their totality, Islamic jihadist movements represent the greatest threat to world peace and to civilization of our time. How can they be stopped, and what can people of faith do?