For our purposes, there are two areas to address: What is the plan, and what educational strategies might emerge from its presentation and implementation?
There is a great deal to work through. We’ll be sending out a much fuller guide towards the end of this week, but in the meantime – a few potential thought structures:
What is the plan?
It is all a conversation between the Written Law, and the Oral Law…
The Written Plan, the 181 page document called Peace to Prosperity, presents a detailed structure around which the parties are expected to negotiate. So far so good (depending on your point of view as to what is in the plan).
But then there is the Oral Plan – that which was announced in President Trump’s speech, his aides’ conversations with Israeli leaders, and the way in which the entire plan was presented. This is where the action lies, together with the potential for misunderstanding and confusion.
Without getting into the nitty gritty details, below are some broad questions everyone is left with:
- Must all aspects of the Written Plan be accepted in full, or can bits of it be altered? The Written Plan isn’t totally clear on this, but the Oral Plan seems to insist on take-it-all-or-leave-it-all.
- Can anyone enact aspects of the written plan unilaterally before any negotiations have taken place? Trump’s speech suggests that they can and should; The Written Plan does not. Trump’s speech talked of sitting down with Israeli officials to translate the Concept Map into a high resolution working map, so that “recognition can be immediately achieved”. Yet the vast, detailed, and generous Palestinian development plan would seem to begin only “when the conditions for statehood are met”. Prime Minister Netanyahu assumed that annexation could begin immediately (Oral Plan), but Jarod Kushner ruled that out (Written Plan).
- Can a Peace Plan be devised and decided upon without both parties to the conflict? The Written Plan itself seems to be crystal-clear that the whole plan needs to be discussed and negotiated upon: “only the Israelis and Palestinians themselves can make the decision to forge a lasting peace together. The final, specific details of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, must be worked out directly between the parties.” The Oral Plan was presented with no Palestinians in the room, and Prime Minister Netanyahu standing next to President Trump throughout.
Within the Written Plan itself there are many contradictions, and between the Oral Plan and the Written Plan there are even more. We’ll dig in to these more fully later in the week.
What educational enquiry might emerge?
A few essential questions suggest themselves, depending upon how things pan over the next weeks and months:
- Some are calling it not a Peace Plan, but a settlement that the victors have decided upon after winning the war. How do we feel about “winning”? To the faint of heart, the immortal lines from W.H. Auden come to mind: “I and the public know/ What all schoolchildren learn,/ Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.” To others, there is primarily celebration and relief that the greatest power in the world has stated so clearly: “No government should be asked to compromise the safety and security of its citizens. This is especially true for the State of Israel…”
- This “win” is seen as the final proof that Palestinians have been and are no match for Israel’s military strength. How do we feel about the use of military force in order to “win”? The Zionists’ idea of the “New Jews”, who knew how to look after themselves in a fight, never fully caught on in the Diaspora. King David is still more remembered for his Psalms than his military successes, and the Golem ran wild in the end. But isn’t military strength important in this part of the world, at this point in history?
- What are our thoughts about people’s freedom, as we see Palestinians around the world and in particular those Palestinian Israeli citizens living North of the West Bank protesting this enforced arrangement? Can you improve someone’s life without consulting them?
- What is a “State”? If – as the plan suggests for the Palestinians – you don’t have an army, don’t have control over your border, have no airport and rely on another country’s port, do you really have National Sovereignty? On the other hand, the Written Plan also offers Palestine international recognition as a State, internationally recognized territory, and international investment in governmental structures – this is not bubkes! As the plan says, “Sovereignty is an amorphous concept that has evolved over time…” What do we mean by sovereignty?
What essential (ie timeless underlying) questions would you add to this list?