Frantzman Weekly Newsletter 34
The Business of Peace
Seth J. Frantzman
June 15, 2007
Does the peace movement have a vested interest in wars and in encouraging conflict? Do all the documentaries and the ‘peace activism’ actually enflame tensions, harden stances and make people more hateful? Does the west colonize the minds of people through this?
The total numbers of ‘peace’ organizations is truly massive. There is a peace movie industry made up of films. There are student organizations such as the Union For Peace and Justice in the Middle East on almost every college campus in the West. There are numerous organizations devoted solely to ‘dialogue’. There is the money donated by NGOs to other NGOs in Israel. There are all the peace organizations that come to Israel such as the ISM and Anarchists against the Fence and Birthright Unplugged. There are the numerous Jewish groups that oppose the ‘occupation.’ There are all the Israeli organizations: the Committee against House demolitions, Peace Now, Women in Black, Machsom Watch, Planners for Planning rights, Architects for Peace, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Association Against Torture, Seeds of Peace, Gush Shalom, Rabbis For Human Rights, Yesh Gvul, New Profile, B’Tselem, Ta’ayush, Bat Shalom, the Alternative Information Center, the numerous centers devoted to peace and rights such as ADVA, Ahali, Arab Center for Alternative Planning, ADALAH, Al Awda, Al Haq, JCSER, JCW, Jerusalem Watch, Miftah, WCLAC, Badil.org, Passia.org. There are the UN organizations, there is TIPH(Temporary International Presence in Hebron). The Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International. The workers and unions and socialist organizations. The faculty organizations. The women’s groups and Muslim groups. The church organizations such as the Mennonite group for Peace, the International Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem the Quakers, and many others.
A recent list from Haaretz that illustrated only a partial list of those organizations working to boycott Israel included the following groups, just in the U.K: Arab Labor Group, Association of the Palestinian Community in the U.K, Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, Communication Workers Union, Friends of the Earth, Public and Commercial Services Union, the Green Party, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-U.K Branch(which reminds me of the PFLP-GC for some reason), Jewish Socialists Group, Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Justice for the Palestinians, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, National Union of Mineworkers, Transport and General Workers Union, Council for Arab-British Understanding, Islamic Council for Human Rights and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. I must reiterate, this is a partial list. The number of organizations just in England when one includes all the local chapters might be more than a thousand. And Ireland, Canada, France and the United States produce many more thousands, not to mention the ‘little’ anti-Israel countries where the campaigns are less well funded and smaller such as Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Belgium for instance.
The number of ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ organizations is simply staggering. In Israel there are special groups for Jewish-Arab architects, Jewish-Arab soccer teams, Jewish-Arab art work, Jewish-Arab judo. Beyond that there are organizations such as Seeds of Peace and dozens, if not hundreds, of community centers for Jewish-Arab cultural coexistence. Then there are all the Arab cultural groups such as Adalah, and the various professional peace groups already mentioned that includes Lawyers and Doctors(Doctors without borders). And all the newsletters published for ‘peace’ including the Palestine-Israel Journal and the Palestine Times.
If one could total it all up and it would be a near impossible task it would create a fascinating, diverse and massive list. If one were to add all the short lived coexistence groups and events, such as a ‘peace concert’ held in the summer of 2006 run by a Yeshiva student from Bat Ayin where half the money went to Lebanese harmed in the war, the number would balloon upwards. But it is not simply a matter of totaling up all the organizations. It is also a matter of estimating the total number of people employed and active in them. There may be today thousands of European settlers in Ramallah, the cultural and protest-European-activist center of the West Bank. The Rothberg international school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem alone produces hundreds of activists each year, many of whome attend classes part time while working on various peace projects(I can recall the following students: Steve who worked with a Palestinian media organization called Searching for a Common Ground), Michael who made a film where Palestinians are asked to pretend they are Israelis and vice versa, Aksenia who was also involved in Palestinian media, Eve Sabbagh who worked on the ‘environmental affect of the Occupation’, some French girl who was studying the growth of Palestinian towns, Goldie who received a scholarship from a peace institute, and the list goes on).
This is the business of peace. Can we quantify it? How many active employees does this list include. The U.N alone employs tens of thousands of Palestinians, but even if we only include the ones working for ‘peace’ it is a large number. And there are a dozen different U.N organizations just in Jerusalem. How many westerners currently reside in the West Bank working full time for these organizations? How many are employed abroad.
This movement for ‘peace’ is not like the groups that opposed the Vietnam war. Those groups were grass roots groups without employees. They didn’t have offices and SUVs and computers. They didn’t have staffs, they were’nt professionals and they didn’t request that people have years of experience ‘working in the field’ in order to work for them. Those were groups made up almost solely of volunteers. Even as they grew more sophisticated, those organizations remained small and underfunded.
But the business of peace is a billion dollar project today. It is an immense organism whose overall number of employees and full time activists includes more people than the biggest corporations. It is as large as a small country and its financing outstrips the budgets of most African Countries. The Peace Lobby is gigantic.
But that must make one wonder. What if there was peace? What is the Peace Lobby’s ultimate goal? Is it peace? Does it not have a vested interest in conflict? Think of the media’s interest as well. Every newspaper that bases so many reporters in Jerusalem to document the ‘crises in the Middle East.’ And it is always a crises, even when its quiet. I see some of you saying: “but there is a crises in the Middle East.” But the crises ridden parts of the Middle East are not the ones where all the activism takes place. There are not activists in Gaza, in Iraq or in Nahr al Balad in Lebanon. The activists make sure to remain just outside of the danger(although for Rachel Corrie and John Hurndall, that was, oh so tragically, not the case). But do any of the ‘peace’ organizations actually show results. What is their net benefit? Is peace ever achieved in places dominated by such organizations? How many ‘natives’ are actually ever served by peace organizations? Don’t the peace organizations just exist for the sake of existing? What if all the money spent on ‘peace’ went instead into training local people to be accountants, doctors and business owners? What if it was invested in building manufacturing plants and training people to work in them?
The U.N has had a chance recently to colonize a few places and impose its version of ‘peace’ upon them. Kosovo, Haiti, Gaza, Southern Lebanon and East Timor are five examples. Those are the most chaotic places in the world. Their chaos and murder rates and terrorism is proportional to the amount of foreign Aid and U.N support: the more Aid, the more U.N workers, the more chaos and the less peace.
In the 1960s people used to say “what if they had a war and no one came?” But today the more interesting question might be “what if they opened a peace center and no one showed up?” In many cases this is precisely the fact. The dozens of peace organizations have budgets and little to show for it(http://www.law.emory.edu/IHR/is_pl.html, http://www.againstbombing.org/peacegroups.htm, http://peace.mennolink.org/articles/israelpeacegroups.html). They are self-masturbatory. They exist for the sake of existence. Their budgets are self-justifying. While it has never been shown that these peace centers actually produce terrorists, it has never been shown that the ‘graduates’ of places like Seeds of Peace actually are more peaceful and actually help the never ending ‘peace process.’ Additionally a number of peace activists actively encourage terror through their definitions such as ‘international law’, among them Hilary Rose who declared in the Manchester Guardian on May 26th, 2007 in an article ‘the Only Weapon Available’ that “today it is hard to see what weapons, other than the counterproductive, though legitimate, armed intifada (though legitimacy does not extend to suicide bombers killing civilians) the even harder pressed Palestinians have.” Baruch Kimmerling, a tenured Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem declared on March 27th, 2001 in an article in Haaretz entitled ‘The Right to Resist’ that “the continuing circumstances of occupation and repression give them[the Palestinians], by any measure, the right to resist that occupation with any means at their disposal and to rise up in violence against that occupation. This is a moral right inherent to natural law and international law.” The Peace Lobby actively excuses and may in fact in some instances incite and educate for hate and terror and murder, only so that the same peace lobby can then help the ‘victims’ work towards peace, a peace they have helped so brutally shatter.
Is it a surprise, after all, that it is a never ending ‘peace process’ and the newspapers inform us ‘peace may never come’ and ‘peace has suffered another setback’ and ‘peace seems less likely now more than ever’ and the ‘conflict is even more impossible to resolve due to _______.” And whenever it appears that some issue that the peace lobby has fought for has been resolved, such as the disengagement from Gaza, the peace activists such as Virginia Tilley or Sue Blackwell change the definition of ‘occupation’ declaring that “Israel is still, according to international law, an occupying power of Gaza.” Its not a coincidence that the BBC website includes a list of the ‘obstacles to peace’ including the ‘Right of Return’, ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Water’. Water is an obstacle to peace. Who knew? What did the water do? In the 1990s we were informed that Israel was stealing ‘Palestinian water’. The water jumped out of the ground and shouted ‘Salaaam’ and thus we knew it had an ethnicity(a similar although equally weird argument is that the U.S steals Mexican water by damming up the Colorado river).
Who attends all these peace workshops? In Israel the left wing Jews and the westerners attend them. The Arabs are made up of Arab nationalists and Islamists. In fact there is an entire village named Neveh Shalom that the peace lobby has built in Israel. A whole town of peace. The voting results from it were available in the newspaper after Israel’s last election and they show that the town voted for the most extreme Israeli leftist party, Meretz, and the most right wing anti-Israeli Arab parties. And the village is half Arab and half Jewish. That is what a peace organization is. That is what an inter-faith organization is. Anyone who has attended a peace rally or an inter-faith meeting knows that the only people who show up are lesbian priests, Rabbis for human rights and Imams trained in Saudi Arabia or from CAIR or the Muslim Students Association, which are both Islamist organizations. That’s interfaith. The Muslim-Jewish peace walks group in the U.S is another fascinating example. It is composed of religious Muslims who wear Muslim skullcaps and Muslim women in headscarves and Hijab and Jewish women from the reform and reconstructionist movement, the most ‘progressive’ and liberal forms of Judaism. It is no surprise the founders of the Peace walks, is composed of a male Muslim Imam and a female Rabbi. That is the model.
But let us remember another conflict that was ‘unsolvable’. Remember Northern Ireland. Remember the movies every American had to watch in the 1990s, The Crying Game, and In the Name of the Father. They were about Northern Ireland. But did the movies change Northern Ireland? Did the Catholic fundraising for the Irish Republican Army among the Irish in America lead to peace in Northern Ireland? Did all the peace organizations bring peace to northern Ireland? Who was it that sat down two months ago to organize the new government of Northern Ireland? Was it a bunch of peace activists? Guess again. Was it a leftist self hating Protestant and a right wing Irish-Catholic? No. It was Reverend Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams. The ‘Reverend’ should be a give away. Many of you will not recall Mr. Paisley, the large, Protestant religious leader who was responsible for organizing Unionist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s. The man who was an ‘obstacle’ to peace. And who is Gerry Adams but a member of the IRA(his organization, Sien Fien is the ‘political wing’ of the IRA). It was the warriors who sat down. It took them to make the peace. It was the Ariel Sharon and the Yaser Arafat, not the Tom Segev and the Saed Erakat, not the Michael Moore, the George Soros and the Castro.
Peace organizations don’t like to hear it. They don’t to think that it is the average people and the right wing people that need to make the peace. They like to think that peace is made between self hating people and hateful people. Their model for peace is always the idea that the leftist-feminists should make peace with the Bin Ladens. But it’s the John McCains that should make peace with the Bin Ladens. Its the George S. Pattons that make peace with the Stalins.
Peace organizations have no impact. In fact the impact they have is negative, counter-productive and in many cases provokes and empowers the conflict, fanning the flames of hatred. Peace organizations would hate to fathom this idea. However the recent example of a ‘multi-cultural’ peace textbook for Israeli and Palestinian students is the perfect example. It tells two narratives to the two populations. For the Palestinian students a Palestinian narrative about their heroic struggle against apartheid and racism. For the Jewish students a narrative about brutal Jews ruining the lives of Palestinians while building their state. It is a recipe for raising a generation of Hamas followers. You can’t teach students extremist biased history in the name of peace. If you want peace you have to teach them self respect, dignity, honor for their heritage and some measure of understanding for others. That doesn’t mean self hatred. It doesn’t mean nationalism. In America it would mean teaching them that Paul Revere did his midnight ride and that the Geronimo was a great Indian leader. It means teaching them that Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King were both good leaders, not that King was like Jesus and Jefferson was a slave owning ‘honkie’.
Peace organizations exacerbate the conflict by colonizing it. They make the conflict their own and they perpetuate it. 90% of the information on Palestinians that is distributed to Palestinians by peace organizations is data collected by westerners. Most of the protests organized in the West Bank are organized by westerners. 99% of the funding for human rights and peace organizations comes from the west. The human rights organizations therefore create the conflict. They provide the maps and literary material and the studies. They even go so far as to fabricate history in order to make the conflict worse. In the Negev the ADVA center publishes western funded pamphlets on the Negev Bedouin. The ‘history’ of the Negev Bedouin now claims that the 49 ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin settlements in the Negev are pre-1948, that they predate the State of Israel. But they don’t predate the state. They are from the 1960s and 1970s. That isn’t a secret. Aerial photographs and army surveys never showed these 49 settlements in the 1940s or 1950s. But now you have a generation of Bedouin activists trained and educated by westerners and Jews to believe that their rights have been violated, that they are living on millions of dunams of land that they never lived on in the same manner before. This would be a little like educating Apache Indians that they had a claim to all of Arizona, when in reality their wanderings never exceeded the southwest portion of the state and even then they were a miniscule, albeit violent, tribe. The peace organizations educate for hate, not for peace. They tell Palestinians they will never be happy.
Think of the latest statement by the BBC on June 15th. The victory of Hamas from Gaza has severed Gaza from the West Bank politically and “this has destroyed the Palestinian’s dream of a unified state.” Really? What Palestinians dreamed of such a state? The Gazan fishermen? The Taibeh milkman? What the BBC meant was, it has destroyed the peace organizations dreams for a unified state. It has destroyed the western educated Palestinians’ dreams of a unified state, such as Saed Erekat, Rashid Khalidi, Sari Nusseibeh, Mohammed Dajani and the late Edward Said. It hasn’t destroyed the average person’s dreams. The peace organizations will now have to work doubly hard to convince West Bank Fatah members that Gaza is really part of Palestine. But it will indeed be westerners encouraging them. After all, who has encouraged the Palestinian refugees to believe in a ‘right of return’ for the last sixty years? The U.N and the west. The 100,000 Palestinians who never bother to move to refugee camps in 1949, such as John Sonunu’s family, don’t want to return to ‘Palestine’. They are happy in the U.S.A, The Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Kuwait, Beirut and Amman. But the refugees whose trips to Israel to ‘see their villages’ are funded by the west, every aspect of their history and the teaching of it is funded by the west. Every part of their mythical and real history is funded and written by the west. They have no input. They exist to have their pictures taken, preferably women in headscarves with little children.
It is like the Africans who exist merely to appear on the webpages of Oxfam to encourage westerners to donate more money so that other westerns can keep working to raise money for Aid so that other westerners can keep their jobs distributing it. The westerners working in peace genuinely don’t care about peace, they care about getting another job, another resume builder, they care about having an entire career working for non-profits, its part of their career. A career of peace. It is an entire new economic sector in the world. It never existed before. The NGO sector. The new colonizing white westerner who has to ‘help’ the ‘other’ because the other can’t do it for himself, which is a racist and typically western assumption. Peace is racism, colonialism and arrogance. The assumption that other people can’t make peace without a westerner to sit at the table. Is it any surprise that the same white westerners appear in Cambodia to tell the Cambodians how to conduct war crimes trials, that it was a Norwegian white man who was telling the Sri Lankans how to make peace with the Tamils, that a Finnish white man runs Kosovo, that another white European person runs Bosnia, and that a white woman named Carla Del Ponte is in charge of hunting for ‘war crimes’ suspects in Serbia, that white people kidnapped Charles Taylor and brought him to Europe, because god-forbid, Africans should be allowed to kill their own dictators. Everywhere in the world you will see Europeans ‘educating’ the ‘natives’ about how to conduct peace. There is never an acceptance that true peace comes from allowing other people to make it for themselves, not jamming western ideas and western notions down their throats. But westerners have a knee-jerk reaction to go globetrotting around the world telling everyone else how to live, while at the same time pretending to ‘love the culture of the other’. One just wonders why westerners didn’t allow Pakistanis to come and advise the Peace Process in Northern Ireland? Why weren’t their Japanese people advising in Kosovo? Why isn’t their a Kenyan man to advise Spain on how to make peace with the Basques, don’t the Kenyans have great experience fighting Joe Kony’s Lords Resistance Army? Oh, but the West can’t take the advise of the Asians and Blacks to solve its ‘peace’ problems. So maybe the west should stop meddling in Asia and Africa’s affairs.
The Business of Peace not only creates conflict, it fuels identity politics and racism and hate and irredentism, Xenophobia. It prohibits peace. It always wants to dictate when and where and under what manner and under what conditions peace should be made. Is it a surprise there is an entire academic discipline now devoted to ‘conflict studies’ and ‘conflict resolution’.
It should remind us that in 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Union of Fascists run by Oswald Mosley held a peace protest in London. A peace protest declaring that ‘Mosley wants peace’ and ‘England wants peace’. But what kind of peace would that have been? Peace is not an end all be all goal. It is not a financial entity, it is not an organization, it is not something that requires activists. Peace is partially a figment of the imagination, partially the result of genocide and the creation of homogenous nation states, the result of wealth and of extreme poverty. Peace is something that exists when there are no more peace organizations(just as today there are no organizations working for peace between France and Germany, and there never were any such organizations).
The current practice of disparate organizations and contests such as Red Cross’s Hebron Law Contest and MIT’s ‘Just Jerusalem’ that encouraged foreigners to redraw the borders of Jerusalem and propose how a ‘just’ Jerusalem should look, show the degree to which the NGO’s are actively involved in colonialism. Statements by a ‘Peace Palestine’ blogger named Artie Fishel(http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/ ) are indicative of the mentality of the Peace Lobby: “I believe that the Palestinian people have the right to return to their homeland, and that Israel, in order to truly be a land that can call itself a democracy, has to abandon its character as a Jewish State, and become a State for all, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Only through Justice can there be peace,” These statements indicate the degree to which the Europeans and the westerners have never given up their colonialistic ideas that they must reshape the world in their image, whatever their current fad is(whether it is Nazism, Communism or Peacism). What will the world do when the last European realizes the world no longer cares what she thinks and doesn’t need the European to run her affairs and doesn’t need the European to redraw the maps of the world?
The west has elevated ‘peace’ to the status of an idol, of an ideology. Peace is the new word by which the west exercises neo-colonialism over the world, enslaving the world once again to the west, making the world beholden to the west. The U.N is the imperial instrument of the West and the billions of dollars spent on peace organizations is the west’s export of settlers to the world, to colonize the minds of people, to create the ‘viscous cycle’ of conflict so that more westerners will be required to help ‘stop the viscous cycle’. By opposing peace organizations and the U.N one is opposing colonialism and paternalism, one is struggling for freedom and resisting tyranny. There is no greater tyranny than having a foreigner tell someone how to live their lives and instructing someone about ‘justice’ as if people do not know justice when they see it.