Israel and Palestine should quit trying to blame each other for their ongoing territorial dispute and make a concerted effort for a peaceful solution that will satisfy both sides, a Jewish magazine editor said Saturday night.
Michael Lerner, editor of TIKKUN, a Jewish magazine that critiques politics, society and culture, told an audience at the U.S. West Auditorium in the Bell Plaza that the Isreali-Palestinian conflict emerged because both sides were pushed into the current struggle by external forces."Both are victims. There were many points where Zionists and Palestinians made serious mistakes. In the end, both sets of mistakes were outside the control of the actors."
During the Holocaust, Lerner said, it was as if the Jewish people were in a burning building looking for somewhere to jump. When they did jump, they unintentionally landed in the homeland of the Palestinians. The Jews have since claimed that land as their own, which drove out many Palestinians.
"It's an incredible tragedy that the rebirth of the Jewish people in their historic homeland led to the huge evacuation of that homeland by many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians," he said.
Lerner said the Israelis have the ethical responsibility to recognize the pain and suffering of the Palestinians. Israel should not oppress Palestinians because of the many atrocities they themselves have suffered throughout their history.
At the same time, Lerner is calling for the PLO to publicly renounce its covenant calling for total elimination of the Jewish state. Both sides have a legitimate right to Gaza and the West Bank and the right to national self-determination.
Citing Jewish scripture Lerner said, "Jewish people have the right to the whole land of Israel, but that right must be balanced with other rights" - namely the rights of Palestinians to not be oppressed in the disputed land.
Lerner, a passionate Zionist, sees only one solution: The creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Under those conditions, Palestine would not be allowed its own army, but one would be provided to protect it, not from Israel, but from other Arab states who might make claims on the land.
Many Palestinian extremists oppose such a plan, Lerner said, but some Israelis seem to favor it, although his liberal views are not in accordance with Israeli Prime Minister Shamir.
Palestinians "would like the whole thing (Gaza and the West Bank); they can't have the whole thing," he said.