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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Israel and Palestine of My Dreams

I dream a world in which there will be a State of Israel and a State of Palestine, one in which the pain experienced at the founding of the state of Israel as the Nakbah, the Catastrophe, for some will be eclipsed by the promise and fulfillment of just societies.
I hold out hope that the people who produced the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel will live up to and into its promises (just as I hope we Americans will live up to and into our Constitution):
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
WE APPEAL — in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months — to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
I started this reflection with Israel and its founding documents because of the commitments they made in 1947. Commitments which I pray they will honor fully in the days and years to come. I hope for a Palestinian Constitution that enshrines protections for the rights and human dignities of all persons without regard for religion, culture or place of origin. And I would like to imagine that neither state will be a monolithic enclave but that there will be Jewish and Christian citizens of Palestine and Muslim and Christian citizens in Israel who will in all cases enjoy the full rights and dignities of citizenship, whose cultural and religious contributions to their societies will be welcome and enriching.
A key element in my dream is for people and peoples to be able to live together, in the same community and in distinct communities. As I look back at the intertwined histories and competing narratives of these two communities it occurs to me that there is no history in which only one people lived in that contested land without the presence of others, no matter who controlled the land or what the circumstances. May there be peace between all peoples, especially in the tiny, crowded land surrounding the holy city, Jerusalem.
So may it be. And may it be in our days.

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