Prior discussions

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On Sept. 11, 2003, Fred Brailey, of Orangeville, Canada, wrote:

F.B. Your proposal has a lot of merit. It reminds me of the self-imposed but still incomplete unification of Europe. Perhaps Europeans felt compelled to make this seismic change after suffering terribly through two world wars and the Cold War.

T.H. You make an interesting point. Postwar Europe has taught us that after enough generations have suffered and enough blood has run in the streets, pride (racial, national, ethnic, religious) can give way to more humane and life-affirming instincts. I imagine that the Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Holy Land are about ready now to make a similar sacrifice for peace, even if their leaders (and ours) are not there yet.

In the Middle East, the USA and Israel, in collusion, are going down the wrong road. The US-mandated "Roadmap for peace" asks, naively, that both parties simply swallow their pride, go back to their homes and forget something like 58 years of internecine warfare. It isn't going to happen, as long as the USA supports Israel with billions of dollars of aid, largely for upgrades and maintenance to Israel's massive military forces.

To make matters worse, we are helping to fund THE WALL (that Israel official media still laughingly call a fence), putting asunder what God would join together.
Q – "How does one define offense?"
A – "A fence."

… If the USA would support, instead of attacking the United Nations, there would be a lot better chance for peace in the Holy Land and elsewhere. The USA would in effect have to swallow its own pride, and return to the table as a responsible member of the UNO. America must practice what it preaches. It could repent, and truly 'Trust in  God' and the UN community, rather than throwing its military might at every little upstart nation that seems to be a possible threat to the global Goliath's dreams of empire.

And these important considerations pale when compared to the slap in God's face — the desecration of creation — represented by the development, storage, deployment, and targeting of nuclear weapons. The United States leads the world in this form of sacrilege. Our leaders are nothing but hypocrites when they say "in God we Trust," while relying in fact on the power of weapons such as hydrogen bombs in armed and deployed nuclear submarines.

On April 13, 2002, Bechara Nassar-Charbel, Managing Editor of Al Hayat (Saudi Arabia), wrote:

B. N-C. I appreciate your letter and the feeling behind your proposal. And I know very well that many Americans believe in a durable solution for the middle east.

T.H. If you mean a "lasting peace" when you write "durable solution," I think that it's not just Americans, but all people of good will who hope for it.

 I think you agree with me that people in the region have the right to live in normal way and in dignity.

Absolutely. The only "abnormal" thing that is being asked of them is to be good "World citizens" rather than good "Israelis" or good "Palestinians."

 I find your proposal excellent… And I will publish it in the letters page next Friday [April 19].. But don't you think with me that political circumstances will not allow this humanitarian thinking to have any chance?

It is difficult to say. There were several nations with conflicting national claims to Antarctica before the Antarctic Treaty was created. With good will, a cadre of leading nations (the signatory states) simply declared that they would, as of the date of enforcement of the treaty, neither claim nor recognize other states' claims of sovereignty in the continent of Antarctica. I don't regard this as "humanitarian thinking." It is serious international power politics, with an extremely strong message.

I fully support your suggestions, but unfortunately we are a minority, and nobody will hear us...

That depends on how effectively we get the message out. Have you got friends in the media? In Arab government circles?

I know it's always the right time to give new and creative ideas. But these ideas are too clean and academic, while politics is realistic and seems very dirty now.

Somehow I do not see the non-violent overthrow of two (or 1 and 1/2) states, one with the fourth largest army in the world, to be "clean" or "academic." International boycotts (should they be necessary) are never clean.

However difficult the situation may be, I am sure that you and I and the believers in peace will not give up.

May Allah/Yh'wh/God bless this work! – T.H.

On April 8, 2002, Tarik Allagany (Saudi Embassy, Washington) wrote:

Thank you Professor Heck.  I guess that would be something for the Palestinians and Israelis to decide if they would like.

With due respect, the proposal is addressed to the leading nations of the world, including the Arab League nations, rather than to the "Palestinians and Israelis." We already know what they want – mutually exclusive statehood! It asks the community of nations to take responsibility for a new status for the Holy Land and its residents, which does not include the older, unfortunate concepts of Palestine and Israel.

 I think the Palestinians would have concerns about their being second class citizens in such a state.  It could end up the way South Africa was.

Do you really think that a United Nations Administration, sponsored by Saudi Arabia and other leading nations, would let that happen?

I think an independent Palestine would be preferable.  But if the Palestinians decide they would like this, we have no problem with it.  Best regards.

Thank you. And good luck with the current Saudi peace proposal. If it fails to achieve its goal, please remember that there is another possibility: stewardship (rather than statehood) for the region.
In peace, – T. H.

On April 9, 2002, Stephen Whitney (Kensington, California) wrote:

Pretty radical, but maybe the only possible solution is radical.

I'm afraid that it is; my hope (as with any radical surgery) is that it be well-managed, respectful of the human life involved, and that it have a positive prognosis for a real recovery. It is important that the gain (peace, prosperity, end to violence, economic development) outweigh the loss ("statehood").

 I remember the old idea of making Jerusalem an open city, or one that is internationally administered, and that struck me then as now as an excellent idea–it's bound to infuriate some group if another group claims the holy city.  I don't know why that rationale extends to the whole area, though, unless it's the only way to keep the peace.

You are no doubt referencing U.N. Resolution 181 (II) of November 1947. Yes, it was an excellent idea. But, as I state in my footnote on that resolution, "more than ever, Jerusalem's fate today seems inseparable from that of its surrounding lands and villages."    One interesting detail about the "Holy Land Protectorate" draft treaty is the "border adjustment" provision of Article VI (2). I really do believe that future negotiations with the neighboring states, by an international HLP administration, could lead to reconfiguring the old  (and still dysfunctional) borders that are the legacy of WWI and colonialism.

When Arafat and Barak met with Clinton, they seemed to come close to a good compromise–Palestine would get most of the "occupied territories" and agree to stop seeking the rest.  Arafat's failure of leadership then was a tragedy.  Independent states that recognize each others' sovereignty are the most-workable model we have in the world, and I am inclined to think that a solution of that kind is preferable to the untried proposal being offered here.  But getting from here and now to independent states that respect each other may be just about impossible, so it's worth entertaining other ideas.

That's the whole point. As to the "untried proposal," I humbly submit that the international stewardship of Antarctica was untried in 1959 too. It has worked well since its implementation.

The main thing is to get new leaders–though there's no reason to think that replacement leaders would be chosen who are any less hawkish than Arafat or Sharon–especially Arafat, sad to say.  The current leaders certainly don't have much vision–far too little to move towards the Protectorate concept.

Well spoken. I might add that the HLP proposal is all about forging an international coalition in favor of a new WORLD policy on Israel – Palestine, rather than worrying about whether Sharon or Arafat will ever get to the bargaining table.

On April 7, 2002, Joel S. wrote:

It's a brilliant idea.  It's too bad that the US didn't impose that vision in 1948, when it had the power to do so.   I will send the URL to my mailing list, certainly.

The main sticking points will be (these may duplicate the excellent presentation at the site):
1.  Jewish resistance to the abolition of a religious state.  In the United States, there are many people who say, wrongly but with great certitude, that the United States is a Christian nation.  They bitterly resent the removal of religious symbols from the public square. One suspects the resistance would be much greater in Israel.

Understood. My proposal is addressed to the leading nations of the world, asking THEM first to change their thinking about the status of the Holy Land. If they do, and declare the region a Protectorate of the World, effective a certain date, then those inside, in particular those favoring a "religious" state, will get the message. The World giveth and the World taketh away. But this time, unlike in previous times, the residents of the Holy Land will be treated with great love, kindness, and good will.

2.  Jewish resistance to the ending of Zionism.  Zionism is an enormously powerful force in Jewish circles; it's like American nationalism on steroids.  Jews have a history of dozens of generations of feeling powerless.  This came to its nadir in the Holocaust.  Suddenly, in Israel, they are the powerful ones, and the Arabs are the helpless ones.  My guess is that they will resist the end of Zionism until it leads to a monstrous catastrophe.

No one wants a catastrophe. This is why a non-violent approach, coupled with guaranteed security for all Jews in the Holy Land by the major powers (once police responsibilities are assumed by U.N. peacekeepers), is so important. Sane Jewish voices will need to be heard, to convince the Zionists that life and peace as "World Citizens" may really be what Yahweh intended for the Jews after all, rather than running the risk of another "Masada." One can be a Zionist at heart, and remain an ultra-observant Jew in one's home, but still behave like a good neighbor on the street.

3.  Israel is a major economy, with some of the leading edge developments in high technology.  Legal uncertainties may lead businesses to decamp.

An interesting challenge for a gifted cadre of economic planners! There could be real tax advantages for businesses which stay, and those which come in, once the Protectorate is established.

4.  The Israeli-Arab split is largely economic.  Repairing the damage is comparable to repairing the damage from slavery.  Palestinians start off from a much lower base of education, health and training.  Indeed, I would argue that many Palestinians exhibit the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (as, I think, do many African Americans who live in very dangerous neighborhoods).

Excellent points. Having the Arab states jump in to support enterprise zones for the Palestinians, and to "bootstrap" the disadvantaged refugees with huge economic incentives, not to mention equitable land and water distribution, just might work. Tourism would turn the tables, I believe.

5.  Most of the Arab states seem to look down on the Palestinians.  One could compare the relationship to that of American liberals and African Americans: there's lots more talk than genuine commitment to change things.

Good point. Arab League leadership is much needed. Might the prospect of peace and prosperity in the Holy Land be an adequate inducement?

6.  Statistics on GDP and its distribution would be interesting.

True – depressing, but interesting.

I have sent it on to about 25 people.  I think it's a great idea.

Thanks! May the Spirit of God-Allah-Yh'wh be with us.  — T. H.

On April 4, 2002, L. Schwirner (Hilliard, Ohio) wrote:

Interesting work; What about those land leases?  Does that mean that everyone there can only "rent" housing but not own a house?  I know it sure feels good to us to get some form of financial security by knowing we're building equity on this house and not throwing money "in the hole" — and also helping ensure security for children.  I mean, I thought we owned this land, but within the USA.  Would that be possible in the HLP?

I can't explain (nor do I have the experience in public policy to explain) all the details, in which the devil usually resides. Additional input is welcome.
   The model I am thinking of is the cabins which people build, buy, and sell on (leased) national park lands, even here in the USA. You can generally assume that their equity is built up and resides in the "improvements," not the land. The catch here is not to recognize any claim to individual or corporate land ownership in the HLP, but certainly to allow a free market in housing and land use, subject to international arbitration when conflicting claims arise. In the process, older claims to residency can be balanced against present and future ones, and accommodations worked out. It will require haggling, an art form in which Middle Easterners usually excel. Haggling will be much better than the bulldozers and bombs we have now.

The other thought regards education.  I learned fairly recently about the "reeducation" of the German peoples after WWII, in which the Germans were paraded through concentration camps and shown films, etc. so they could know what really happened ("depropagandizement"?).  Perhaps something like that would be necessary to rationally show how the current situation is unresolvable, and also demonstrate how it is possible for people of different religions to live in close proximity yet maintain their practices.

Right… that where the genius of the American experience might actually prove helpful (for a change!). I would say the same for our experience with non-violence.

I can't help but think that this transition would have to be done by force (even though non-military), so it would be very important to discuss the educational system.  We may not be able to convince the zealots at all, and they may have to languish in prison for injustices and then die off.  But in the meantime, we'd have to have a way to educate the children and other open-minded individuals so that they can see the sense in this — and it would have to be done without seeming to be by force, by "outsiders" who don't understand.  I envision, for example, prominent, intellectual Jews going over and showing "their own" how such an arrangement "is Jewish," upholds Jewish standards and brings dignity to the Jewish people.

Good idea!

That being said, would all citizens of a region attend the same public school regardless of their religion?  And/or would there be prominent religious cultural centers set up that could somehow help de-zealotize the respective religions and restructure the thinking  so that it's obvious that religious integrity can be maintained in a world government? Just thinking…

Good points. There actually are some places in the world where different faith (ethnic) communities live in peace with one another. The hope of the world lies, as always, more in the children's generation (thank God) than in the parents'. I think you're quite right that the way education is handled will make or break the whole effort.