Article By Ehud Tokatly

The Vision Of Visions

A Letter To A Muslim Friend

Salam Dear Brother,

In the name of the Almighty, the Merciful, who created all beings, I ask you to consider my words, as I have carefully heard your thoughts, with an open mind and a willing heart.

As one believer to another, I ask you to join hands in trying to stop the bloodshed and anguish, cruelty and injustice, that haunt our blessed land for over a century. We must seek a path to fulfil our true role as the children of Avraham / Ibrahim, because the alternative is too horrific to contemplate.

Recently, I have heard with great joy some Islamic thinkers who oppose hatred and terrorism, proving that the Quran commands Muslims to live in peace with Christians and Jews - "the People of the Book".

But I also hear their vision for the future. Some say it openly, while others conceal it under vague terminology. The vision of a great Caliphate that would treat non-Muslims most kindly, is the common dream among many devout Muslims.

May I suggest that we all search our souls and ask if such visions are likely to produce true peace?

I share your sharp criticism of the Oslo Process, which was neither honourable nor practical. But what is the alternative?

In my view, our region suffers from a tragic clash between many visions. One can group them in two major clusters: the "Separatist Plans" and the "Dominating Ideologies". Each group can be further divided into "religious" and "secular", "Western" and "Oriental" etc. But none of them has the properties for providing us with a better future.

We seem to agree that the various partition plans, that have dominated international politics and public opinion since the 1930', are neither practical nor morally just. The recent slogan of the so-called "Liberal Left" in Israel, exposes their true nature: "They Are There And We Are Here" reflects paternalism and calls for Apaetheid. At best, partition models express a deep sense of despair and alienation. Surely, no true believer can accept that!

The other type of visions are even more counterproductive. Many individuals tend to imagine a better world, where other people would replace their beliefs with "the right" values. The "One State" solutions have mostly ignored the cultural, spiritual and ideological diversity of our region. The vision of a "Secular, Democratic State", for example, rejects both Jewish yearning for independence and all forms of religion. The PLO that coined this term, has recently created a regime that may be secular, but hardly democratic. Thus, it is fair to suspect that the PLO vision is merely a scheme for replacing Jewish domination over Arabs with an Arab domination over all others.

I am sure, my friend, that you honestly believe that no Islamic ruler would ever sink so low, as his own religious values would guide him in treating all people fairly and kindly. Yet, you may admit that the Caliphate vision is a "Dominating Ideology". In fact, it is a mirror image of the Jewish vision of the Messianic Kingdom, where our king would rule with justice and kindness, as commanded in the Torah. Still, I would not expect you to accept an offer to find peace and justice under the protecting wings of my Jewish Messiah.

We must seek another path! We need to find a way of dreaming together, creating a vision that would let us both hold on to our values, without forcing either into submission.

Some sincere individuals have already designed innovative models, which we may group into a third cluster: "The Vision Of Visions" family. Some call this trend: "OSTS" (One State - Two Systems), fashioned after Hong Kong, the EU and other models. I prefer to call it: "OSMS" - One State - Multiple Systems.

Let us create a state of a new kind, based on a practical model that embraces all communities with their diverse cultures, values and beliefs. Let us build a true partnership, based on mutual respect and true freedom for all. Let us abandon the negative desires to separate people, or subdue them under our rule. Both Separatist and Domineering urges cannot possibly express true love or faith. Surely, the Almighty wishes us to live in peace and freedom. Are we ready to rise to His challenge?

Ehud Tokatly, 15/January/2004

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