How can we achieve durable peace in Gaza and beyond?

Lucy NusseibehOut of the appalling destruction and death in this latest bout of violence, what kind of future can be salvaged for Palestinians whether in Gaza or in the rest of the occupied territories? Wars, militarisation, and feelings of moral superiority do not bring security or solutions. On the contrary, the current war, and the ones before prove that overwhelming military force, and all other forms of violence, will never solve political problems.

The violence was as inevitable as it is unbelievable

What has been going on in the occupied territories (Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem) was unsustainable. The Israelis had it easy and comfortable, and were generally more concerned with social issues than with peace. Even the Palestinians had on the whole become so used to the 47 year occupation, that the focus of the dreams of many was more towards improving the economy than addressing the appalling human security situation.

But nevertheless you cannot continue to deny all rights and humanity to a people and expect that the anger and frustration won’t burst out

The need for a new vision for the future

One thing that is, or at least should be, clear to all, is that the future of the region will only be a peaceful one if it is a based on reciprocal respect that acknowledges that the region has to be shared.

Maybe it will be in separate states, or maybe in some other form. Whatever the case, the alternatives remain unthinkable, such as the total transfer or total annihilation of all the Palestinians or all of the Israelis.

Any viable future therefore needs new a vision to be built by both sides. Somehow, together, we have to work towards something that is based on inclusivity and awareness of the need for a shared future.

There needs to be a shift in mindsets away from the self-righteousness and the many misperceptions surrounding this conflict. At present each side focuses only on their own separate and exclusive needs and fears. We need change, not more of the same and worse. We need to move towards humanisation instead of away from it.

The time is now to learn lessons

One of the lessons, that have been very apparent to Palestinians at least, is that it is impossible, even with state-of-the-art barriers and concrete walls, and even with projects of “fragmentation” to undermine Palestinian social cohesion, to keep an entire population without basic human rights, without human security and without dignity.

Another is that as we move into August 2014, this current war needs to be the war that ends not only all wars between Israelis and Palestinians but also the long festering occupation.

Correcting some common misperceptions

  • That victimhood is the property of one group only. No – the discourse of victimhood, whereby one side claims all the moral high ground, and thereby pushes all the evil onto the other side, making them into monsters, not only cannot hold up, but allows for polarisation and dehumanisation.

As the numbers of Palestinians killed have reached nearly two thousand, with many of the casualties being women and children, and with the relentless destruction of shelters, schools, hospitals and the only power plant in Gaza, stopping the violence is urgent. But this latest ceasefire, must not be just a ceasefire that allows for more of the same and worse in another couple of years, it must be linked with an inclusive, realistic and creative approach towards establishing human security and justice, and thereby a lasting peace.


Lucy Nusseibeh implemented a participatory video project for the Participate Initiative (which is based at the Institute of Development Studies) with Palestinian women in two villages (Jib and Nebi Samuel) severed from Jerusalem by the Israeli separation barrier. She is also the founder and executive chair of Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND) and director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University

2 Responses to How can we achieve durable peace in Gaza and beyond?

  1. arun agrawal says:

    I live in the United States and am astonished and appalled by the lack of information, thinking, reflection, and imagination in this country when it comes to Palestine and Israel. The discourse on the subject in the country demonstrates that there are no naked facts because all news about the conflict between the Israel and Palestine is shaped to fit existing preconceptions, political convenience, and continued occupation. There will be no end to this conflict as long as the current political leadership in the United States and Israel endures, as long as the United States blindly gropes its way in west Asia, and as long as the rest of the world including Europe continues to abdicate its basic responsibilities in response to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

  2. Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond says:

    I recognise much of what is said. I empathise with the suffering of the Palestinian people. But this article and the research on which it is based is nonetheless clearly not ‘unbiased’.

    ‘The Palestinians have nothing to defend themselves with; there is no state, no army, no weapons.’
    No weapons? Come of it! Few people realise that rockets are regularly fired into Israel, and have been for years. What state would put up with that endlessly without response? Is Israel far more powerful in terms of weaponry?Certianly, yes. But this is simply not truthful, and cannot be taken seriously, let alone as the results of ‘research’. Noe of which means, however, that the suffering of Palestinian people – or, to a lesser extent, Isrealis – is not real. i simply do not accept that Palestinians are well served by this kind of propaganda, though it gives me joy at all to have to point this out, given that it lays one open to charges of bigotry. But one must be fearless if one is to pursue truth…and peace!

    There is the author of this piece:
    ‘Lucy Nusseibeh implemented a participatory video project for the Participate Initiative (which is based at the Institute of Development Studies) with Palestinian women in two villages (Jib and Nebi Samuel) severed from Jerusalem by the Israeli separation barrier. She is also the founder and executive chair of Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND) and director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University.’
    And the address of ‘Al-Quds University’? ~ Al-Quds University, Beit Hanina, Jerusalem, Palestine, P.O Box 51000.’ ~ It’s website is in Arabic, with the option of English. Nothing wrong with any of that of course, but would it be too far to assume that this is an Arab university, and that it (not unnaturally, or perhaps unfairly) sees things from the Palestinian perspective? Nothing wrong with that either, everyone is entitled to a view and to have their position represented. But unbiased? Pleaser refer to the first point above.

    It is clear from statements made by the Foreign Press Assocation in 2014 that bullying, threats and even attempts on life have been made towards journalists trying to do their jobs in difficult circumstances, from both sides in the conflict! However, one very chilling statement concerns Hamas, and foretells I fear its real objectives. Is this the real, unstated objective of the Left in the West too, in line with the Socialist philosophy of Marx and Engels?
    ‘The FPA condemns in the strongest of terms a series of text messages sent to the mobile phones of well over 60 foreign correspondents and journalists working for foreign news outlets from what appears to be a carefully selected data base set up by the military wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades. These messages, which included direct threats to our members including one from “kill you” that said “HAMAS… IN THE NEXT WAR ALL OF PALESTINE WILL BE RETURNED” and one from a 057 number that said “al-Qassam has chosen you to be The next SHalite .. Be Ready.” This is unacceptable. Journalists are not part of the Middle East conflict. They are observers who should be treated as such.
    The FPA calls on the Hamas government to take steps to guarantee this never happens again.’ ~FPA, March 23rd, 2014.

    Surely peace and reconciliation requires of all participants a willingness to tell the truth courageously and in accordance with the truth. From where I stand there is far too little of this, on both sides of the conflict. It does not serve the interests of peace. But then, is it really meant to? I have no doubt I could challenge in a similar manner ‘research’ from some Israeli institutions that offers conclusions of the opposite nature to those positied in this article.

    Can we please stop all the propaganda, the bias, and try to ‘both’ represent the views of the people from each side AND empathise with the opponent. To see things from not just one’s own perspective but also from that of the ‘other’ is the key to any true religious/spiritual endeavour. There is always another side to any story. Anybody who loves Truth and seeks it earnestly can tell you that.

    With well-wishing.

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