Israelis cannot prevail over Palestinians any more than Palestinians
can prevail over Israelis. Isn’t this obvious by now? There is not
going to be a winner here until everyone is dead, and that would be
a hollow victory indeed. But take heart: There is a real alternative
and, since we Semites (Arabs and Jews) are clever people, we
should have thought of it long since.
We can go ahead and declare the Palestinian-Israeli contest a tie:
Game over! Score: Tied, one all. One moral victory for each side;
one “I’ve proved my point” for each side; one “I belong to this land
and will never give it up” for each side. One “My way of battling is
more noble than yours” for each side. One “We will never kneel” for
each side. And so forth.
A tie (as in, the game is tied) in Hebrew is “teko.” That’s not hard; go
ahead and say it aloud: TEKO (rhymes with “METro”). The valiant
struggle to subjugate Palestinians to the will of another people
claiming ancestral rights to this land, and engaged in a relentless
process of acquiring more and more of it by force of arms, is now
over, because the Palestinian people will never be subjugated and
they are determined to be free. We declare the outcome TEKO.
In Arabic, the word for a tie is “ta3adol” (pronounced “ta’adol,” more
or less; the numeral 3 stands for the Arabic letter “ayin”). That’s not
hard either; go ahead and say it aloud: TA3ADOL (rhymes with “pa-
pa-ROLL”). The valiant struggle to roll back the tide of the modern
Jewish national renaissance - a renaissance pursued with
increasing desperation in the wake of the Nazi catastrophe, but at
the cost of incalculable suffering and displacement of the other
people living on this land - is now over, because the Jewish national
renaissance cannot be rolled back. We declare the outcome
And while we’re at it: Within the Palestinian reality, the warring
factions can also declare ta3adol; and within the Israeli reality, which
incidentally includes a million Palestinian-Israeli citizens, the warring
players can also declare teko. It’s enough! Call it a tie! Get some
decent mediators in here and let’s get a life.
Ah, yes: The old-time coaches on both sides hate to admit that an
outright win may not be within their grasp. As coaches do, they want
to forge on, regardless. Victory, they promise, is just around the
corner, or in another generation, or two, or three. The diehard fans -
all over the world - certainly want the game to go on. Victory is a
uniquely seductive dream, and the fans themselves are not paying
the price in blood that is being exacted from the players on the field.
Even some of the players - those too old to worry, too young to fear,
too embittered and hopeless to care - want the game to go on. The
arms merchants and various foreign powers, whose strategic plans
incorporate an ongoing conflict in Palestine-Israel, are happy to
have the game go on, and on, and on, and on. And on.
Here on the actual playing field, however, in real time, we (the
players) have been stripped of our last illusions, most of us. Ask
anyone. Privately, most will say: “Enough, already! It’s enough!”
Both teams now know that outright victory, if indeed attainable,
comes with too high a price tag; that the continued quest for an
outright win is creating a devastating shared legacy of cruelty,
shame and sorrow. Give our teams an honorable way out and most
of the players will take it willingly, gladly. We want to get a life. We
want our children to have a life.
As the scripture says: I set before you life, and death. Be smart,
folks. Choose life.
It’s not a soccer game we’re talking about, dear reader. People are
needlessly dying here (mostly Palestinians), every day, while the
mad coaches rant and rave and the clueless fans scream
themselves hoarse in the stands or just go on about their business,
deep in denial. But things could be otherwise; it’s up to us.
Speaking in the voice of umpire (not empire), I hereby declare that
the game is over! Sisters, brothers, cousins - the contest is done.
It’s a tie! Ta3adol! Teko!
In the new era, we will send all our young people to more productive
endeavors than mutual bloodshed. We will send them to the
Olympics to test their mettle, or to the moon, or into deprived
neighborhoods to work with needy kids, or to remote regions to
measure their stamina in the wilderness, or even to UN
Peacekeeping Forces, if conflict and combat are what they thirst for.
But the conflict will be somewhere else, far from here. Here, we’ve
had our fill of that.
To all the courageous players out there, Israelis and Palestinians:
Listen up, everyone: We may now retire honorably from the field
and build a new life, side by side. For our children’s sake, we must
get ourselves some new coaches without delay, people with good
credentials in co-creating a free and just and prosperous society for
all. We should make a detailed list (before we hire them) of the skills
they should have. Let’s get busy. A brand new day is waiting to be
*Deb Reich, author, editor, and translator for Ha’aretz-International
Herald Tribune and for NPOs in civil rights and related fields, was
born in Manhattan, educated at Barnard College, and has lived in
Israel for 25 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Deb Reich 2002. May be reproduced with attribution.
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