Normalization with Israel
• The Public:
Normalization between Israel and its neighbors can cure much of the Arab-Israeli mutual chronic insecurity and subsequent animosity. However, as long as regimes only without peoples accept the normalization, the conflict will persist, and Israel will always be insecure about the next Arab regime that could be less friendly than the former. Peoples can even pressure a present Israel-friendly regime to change its attitude. Only when both regimes and peoples accept the normalization, true security is possible. This is more difficult with ignorance, fanaticism and dictatorship rampant in those countries, UNLESS nation-wide campaigns explain to people there the benefits of such normalization, even if they weren't necessarily rich or educated.
Some Arab/Muslim liberals may still refuse the normalization out of sympathy for Palestinians, UNLESS Palestinians themselves accept normalization with Israel, in which case other countries, fanatic or not, will accept it too. This makes Palestinians the most important party for Israel to seek normalization with. Again, this requires a good campaign to open Palestinians' minds about the normalization, by Palestinian and Arab leaders, intellectuals, and individuals with life experience allowing them more closeness with Israel and better judgment of reality.
Some fear that after normalization Israel won't change its colonial policies, as long as the US, Israel's main supporter, keeps its hegemony over the world and manipulation of the United Nations. Similarly, some fear Israel's hegemony over the region, i.e. excessive Israeli power after the normalization, like a monster growing incessantly to dangerous levels. This is unlikely:
• The Occupation:
Accepting the Israeli occupation of Palestine is the biggest challenge to normalization with Israel. Colonialism is a crime, but also relative. Crimes, by humans or countries, get old and charges are dropped only if they have no (longer) harmful effects.
Israel's occupation of Palestine is more on the positive side of colonial types. Israel has become so advanced, democratic and prosperous in a short time, by Western support and values brought with immigrants, immigrants' tenacity and enthusiasm, and good planning typical of a new country/land of opportunity attracting immigrants. Israel has also added to, not obliterated Palestine's identity, culture and diversity (unlike many other colonists or even home despotic regimes do), keeping its languages (Arabic/Hebrew), traditions, architecture, etc. (Islamic/Roman/Greek/Canaanite/etc.).
One must come to terms with colonialism first to accept normalization with a colonist, as did many former colonies that still have good ties with their colonizers.
Had colonialism been rigid/absolute, then we should've long ago expelled all Europeans from America, Turks from Istanbul, and Arabs from all the countries they invaded 14 centuries ago!
Most if not all Arab Israelis prefer life in Israel to that in Palestine or any other Arab country. Even many liberal Palestinians from Gaza/West Bank, if under no social pressure, would do the same; otherwise they seek to reform their homeland Palestine to properly benefit from and cooperate with Israel as "two" coexistent civilized states, or even merging into "one" state eventually. To many, names makes no great difference, whether one's land is called Israel, Palestine, or Canaan (what's in a name?), even so after receiving the 20th-century waves of multiethnic immigrants, much like the US, Canada, Arab Gulf countries (with huge non-Arab populations), or any country revitalizing itself by immigrants without losing its identity (that many Palestinians already know theirs is Hebrew, Arab, Mediterranean ... altogether).
This doesn't mean to legitimize colonialism now, in Israel or elsewhere. Not only Israel did many positive things, for countries to pardon its wrongdoings, but Israel is probably the last example of "old" colonialism that had different rules then. Despite the more recent West Bank settlements belonging to a post-colonial era, normal relations can still be maintained while solving the dispute, as many other countries do despite their own territorial disputes too, since there is more to share than to differ on. Unlike colonial times, the present advancement of communication and available information increased the fields of cooperation between countries, offering them new opportunities to benefit each other, with less need for a mutually costly war and an endless bloody cycle of "suppression & resistance." Let alone international laws and pressure protecting each country's sovereignty.
However, nothing stops the instinctive human desire for MORE, where countries' ambition can lead to blackmailing each other by various creative neo-colonial methods as long as no external/internal pressure keeps them from doing so, by national or international bodies. Neocolonialism is worldwide, deserving more attention than obvious old-fashioned colonial tactics. It's paradoxical to demonize Israel while cooperating with the US and other superpowers, the Prime Neocolonists, with their worldwide military bases, products, media, cultural values, influence over the UN, etc.
For instance, the US' support for Israel is more than that for any other country, and their politics are so entwined, one influencing the other. Suffice it to say that nearly every UN decision penalizing Israel ever since its founding was vetoed by the US. It's healthier for both the US and Israel if the US limits its interference in Israel and the ME in general, and that Israel diversify and balance its alliances to serve its own long-term interest, acting as a Middle Eastern power not as a Western client state.
Normalization of ties between Israel and its neighbors can cure much of the chronic INSECURITY each side feels toward the other, which is the root problem of many Middle East and even world conflicts. It can put an end to the decades-old nerve-wracking stalemate many Middle Eastern peoples are caught in, where either party, Israelis or non-Israelis, is too scared to let go first.
Both sides will spend less on security, redirecting attention toward other external/internal concerns and useful fields of development. The power of pragmatic interests will guide their relationship, instead of any religious/ethnic/emotional motive. The power of "shared" geography, climate, culture and history, that is greater than moral difference, will reign.
Israel can lead by example in its less democratic region, inspiring peoples and pressuring governments to achieve democracy: true gradual democracy, not a cover for destructive chaos. It can share "some" technology to help them advance and catch up, guiding, training and nurturing the gifted in those countries. Cooperation between Israel and its neighbors is the best guarantee for real long-term security for both sides.
However, Israel's democracy or technology is good but not enough for other countries to seek normalization with it (most colonial powers were democratic too). Israel shouldn't rely much on its image as a modern country, as its democracy or technology is mostly "good for her"; also, whenever Israel propagates its modernity, many find it unappealing, incomplete, and contradictory to its backward colonial and barbaric policies toward others.
Pragmatic self-interest is the strongest motive for the normalization, for Israel and neighbors to benefit each other, and stop harming/threatening each other. Some countries even "befriend" Israel mainly to befriend the US by association. It's legitimate and logical to do so despite American hegemony and Israeli aggressions, until the world improves in justice and equality (by a more effective democratic UN/World Government serving all citizens worldwide). This is more realistic than ignoring power-balance realities and lamenting world imperfections.
Pursuing self-interest is a realistic choice saving countries time, troubles, and even the mistrust of others. Normalization with Israel ends the double-standards and frequent lies of governments indirectly accepting, supporting, yet hiding their "affair" with Israel out of political correctness:
The damage Palestine suffers shouldn't be multiplied by damaging other countries too, esp. its neighbors, some of whom suffered more than Palestine itself for allying with Palestine (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, etc.), whom Israel and its Western allies disrupted or destroyed out of fear for Israel. This is even more realistic when Palestine refuses to help itself, not fighting its corruption, ignorance and fanaticism, refusing to coexist with Israel or even benefit from it. Worse still, many Palestinians, e.g. Hamas, turn against and fight their own regional allies and best supporters, e.g. Egypt, and even fight their own liberal open-minded fellow Palestinians.
Palestine has suffered so much till it became too sick, requiring our sympathy, but also a special treatment. If a place is on fire, a body infected, etc. we should limit the damage first, by cordoning/quarantining it, then applying a "unique" treatment suiting it only. This is realistic albeit harsh, as any country could be in Palestine's shoes. Yet this is the case with our most democratic systems, that are only relatively fair, unable to satisfy every individual, minority, or even half of society, whose votes are simply ignored.
Normalizing Israel doesn't mean abandoning Palestine. Countries should advise, help, or force Palestine to fight its "sickness," that makes peace, let alone normalization with Israel, impossible. On the other hand, Israel should help Palestinians do so when it can, rather than meet violence with more violence and perpetuate the conflict. It "owes" Palestine this, who made Israel's existence possible during a lawless colonial era. Israel's advanced prosperous present is the only cure to past mistakes, by sharing it ONLY with the Palestinians who appreciate the present and are willing to move forward, to the future, not backward to dark ages.
Neither Palestine nor Israel will resolve their chronic conflict as long as they are not under external pressure, where Palestine remains corrupt and fanatic, and Israel colonial and despotic. Unfortunately, international law enforcement is influenced by the US and other superpowers; and, worse still, many such laws are more idealistic than realistic, ignoring the power needed to enforce them. They need more compromises, exceptions, temporary solutions, etc., to adapt to the realities of world power balance. Examples:
Many of those against normalization with Israel lack EMPATHY, the glue of society needed in politics and otherwise, not putting themselves neither in Israel's nor Palestine's shoes, which requires some imagination, information, and involvement if possible.
Public diplomacy can help alongside state efforts:
Certain groups can be esp. useful:
Awareness programs should focus on properly informing each party about the other.
Arab/Muslim countries need to understand Israel:
On the other hand, Israel needs to feel, understand and support "its" region, rather than isolate, antagonize and disrupt it (out of short-sighted protection) which is like suicide, having long-enduring damage on everyone. It must respect those whom it chose to exist among; it needs to know: