Gershon Baskin



Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

It has become increasingly difficult for organizations and individuals working on peace building projects to bring Israelis and Palestinians together. Beyond the difficulties of physical movement and the need for permits for Palestinians to enter Israel or for Israelis to enter the Palestinian Authority areas (permits are issued by the Israeli army), the popular campaign among Palestinians to boycott Israel and Israeli organizations makes it difficult for Palestinians who wish to participate to do so. The anti-normalization campaign, as it is called, believes Israel should be denied legitimacy and recognition as long as the occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem continues.

The main problem with the logic of the campaign is that Israel’s control over Palestinian territories will never end without an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and no such agreement is possible without Israel and the Palestinians negotiating and reaching an agreement to end the conflict.

Throughout their history, the Palestinians have been waiting for someone to deliver their liberation and freedom. In the past they waited for the Arab League and Muslim countries, then they waited for the USSR and the non-aligned states, then they waited for the EU and the US, and now they are waiting for the UN and the International Criminal Court. While waiting for others to solve their problem they are also advancing the anti-normalization campaign, which really only hurts Palestine and Palestinians. Quite frankly, most Israelis couldn’t care less that Palestinians refuse to engage them. The Israeli government certainly doesn’t care, in fact it exploits the anti-normalization campaign to prove that Palestinians are not interested in peace.

I have never supported normalizing the reality of occupation. Throughout my entire life I have worked to end the occupation, to create an independent Palestinian state next to Israel and to reach Israeli-Palestinian peace and the end of conflict. I have no idea how the “anti-normalizers” intend to advance their goal by not talking to me. It is such a foolish idea and needs to be rejected by Palestinians all over, by the Palestinian leadership and by the whole world. Enemies never end their conflicts by not talking. The goal of Palestinian society should be to engage every single Israel everywhere in Israel – especially right-wing Israelis.

This is just one example of what Palestinians need to do to help themselves. I have had numerous discussions with PA President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue of Palestinian textbooks and incitement.

I had one conversation about this with Yasser Arafat about two months before he died. The Palestinian response to charges of incitement and problems in their textbooks has been: let’s reconstitute the trilateral (US, Israeli, Palestinian) anti-incitement committee to work on it. Or they say, when Israel agrees to change their textbooks, so will we. The Palestinians make a justified claim that Israel is the more powerful of the two parties and should take the initiative. The Palestinians are right, but what if Israel doesn’t take the initiative? How long will the Palestinians wait? I am trying to encourage the Palestinians to take that first step, not as a favor to Israel, but in their own interests. Arafat signed a letter of recognition of Israel’s right to exist on September 13, 1993, yet in Palestinian textbooks, it is clear that no such recognition exists. Palestinian leaders state that they support the twostate solution on the basis of the June 4, 1967 lines, but that strategic decision does not exist in Palestinian education.

Palestinian textbooks clearly state that the occupation began in 1948 and then expanded in 1967. No map in Palestinian textbooks indicates Israel’s existence and there is even a poem taught in an Arabic- language textbook that praise martyrdom – clearly a reference to suicide bombings or knifings. Palestinian leaders talk about Jerusalem being the holy city to three monotheistic religions, yet their textbooks make reference only to Islam and Christianity, suggesting that the Jews have no legitimate connection to Jerusalem.

So which is it? What the Palestinian leaderships states or what is taught in the textbooks? I want to be clear: Israel is also guilty of the crime of omission in its textbooks, not recognizing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for a state of their own, and Israeli textbooks should be improved to indicate the political reality which is supported by the majority of Israelis and by the prime minister. But there is absolutely no reason why Palestinians should wait for Israel to change their textbooks.

Palestinians have so much to gain by taking the first step and proving to the world, and to their own people, that they truly are genuine partners for peace, committed to living in peace side-by-side with the State of Israel. The PLO committee created by President Abbas for engaging with Israeli society, headed by Mohammed Madani, whose special VIP status was recently removed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, should take the lead on an “anti-anti-normalization campaign.”

The Palestinians need to engage with Israeli society and this engagement must be legitimized by the Palestinian leadership and by Palestinian civil society.

The anti-normalization campaign is an anti-Palestine-freedom campaign and should be labeled as such. It is time for Palestinians who still understand that the Palestinian cause must be won inside of Israel to stand up and speak against the anti-normalization campaign.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is doing more harm to Palestine and Palestinian interests than a concerted, direct and strategic campaign to engage Israelis would. There is no liberation, end of occupation or peace for Palestinians without Israelis agreeing. There will never be an imposed solution to the conflict. So it is time to reject the notion that by not talking Israel will get on its knees and capitulate. Talking, working together, interacting, investing, creating a better future together is the surest way to reach a just peace.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier

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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin


The republic of Israel-Palestine?

My enemy's leader

De-risking peace - Part 5

De-risking peace - Part 4

De-risking peace - Part 3

De-risking peace - Part 2

De-risking peace - Part 1

The Left is right

The French connection

The United Nations and Israel’s legitimacy

A moment of opportunity

The darkness of our times

Addressing the core

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian turmoil and Israeli interests

This one is for you - the Palestinians

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

Sooner or later

There is no partner

There is no partner


Yes, it is difficult to make peace

What does he really want?

To those who oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace

Israel – my sad home

Have I got news for you

It is still not too late for peace

Netanyahu, tell us what you really think!

The partnership challenge

The binational reality that we are experiencing

Abbas is still the leader who can make peace

A new intifada?

After Abbas

The distance between here and peace and security

Doing the wrong thing at that wrong time

The one and only solution!

Yeshayahu Leibowitz was right!

The disengagement – 10 years on: What we choose to forget

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Obviously no peace now, so what then?

Ramadan Kareem!

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

Anti-normalization hypocrites

FIFA, soccer and the Palestinians

Both sides now

It’s time for Palestine

The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope

We have the chance to do the right thing in Yarmouks

The world is not against us

This is what you voted for, and this is what you will get

The no decision elections

A cautious peace, but peace nevertheless

For the sake of Israel, Netanyahu must be sent home

Going ballistic even prior to an agreement

To the new IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot

The Peace Bridge

The choices we must make

Israeli elections – It’s not about the economy

Threats and security


Returning to negotiations

Our most important elections

The missed opportunities

We want peace, but they don't

Our future is in our hands

Defining who we are

Unlike religious wars, political wars have solutions

Today and tomorrow

If we had a real leader

Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

No tango going on at all

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

The end of the ceasefire, the renewal of war and the end game

The aftermath

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Annexing the West Bank – a catastrophic plan for the Jewish people

Mutual and reciprocal recognition

Our Palestinians, their Jews

A very personal statement on peace


Contextual reciprocity

Negotiating atmospherics

My Conversation With Hamas

Ramadan Kareem

Wahrheit, Lügen und Rechtmäßigkeit

Kauft palästinensisch!

Rat für den Präsidenten

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!

Die Kluft im Umgang mit den israelischen Arabern schließen


Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Strategische Fehler und Herausforderungen

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Die Aufgabe eines Staatsmannes

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Obama, gestatte es uns nicht!

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?