This week, an historic Polish-Israeli cabinet session is underway in Israel, reflecting both a deep, often turbulent historical bond and a new friendship, nurtured in the twenty+ years since Poland won independence. However, given that Jerusalem is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Poland displays a blatant disregard for international law in her decision to meet there instead of in Tel Aviv. Poland, quo vadis -- where are you going?
When Poland assumes the presidency of the European Union in July 2011, she will be responsible for encouraging peace and justice throughout the Middle East, much as the world did for Poland during her own brave Solidarnosc uprising. With a new sense of empowerment, pride, and courage spreading across the Arab world in a people's revolution against oppression, corruption, and impoverishment, Poland is uniquely qualified to press for democracy and freedom.
As Israel's friend, Poland must support Israel's long-term security by helping Israel respond constructively to recent events in the Middle East and by encouraging Israel to signal genuine commitment to a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If Poland and Israel continue to act in a way that is perceived as contemptuous of the Palestinians, they will simply inflame the conflict, missing an invaluable moment of opportunity and making the world far more dangerous.
There are so many ways Poland can share its own remarkable model of successful social change and nation building. For example, the Polish Round Table, used so effectively in 1989 by the Solidarity Trade Union to disengage the entrenched communist government and plan fair elections, is a vitally important model for all stakeholders in future Israel and Palestine peace talks.
Poland, start by referencing the 2002 Arab peace initiative. Use your high level visits to arrange meetings and listen to those Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs who support justice and peace through their committed nonviolence.
You deeply value freedom. After three centuries of occupation, with every generation rising up in turn, the Solidarity Trade Union Movement succeeded through determined nonviolence. But the influence wasn't Gandhi or Martin Luther King -- it was the experience of the Warsaw Uprisings with the immense loss of all but 1000 of its 1.3 million people and the destruction of every building in Poland's capital, that brought Solidarnosc to strategically choose nonviolence as its path to freedom.
Listen to the Israeli peacemakers, many of Polish descent, whose open letters urge you to
- Cancel arms trade between Rafael and Poland 's Bumar for Spike Missile production, because these weapons are used by the Israeli military against civilians;
- Promote an EU arms embargo on Israel, in accordance with the tenets of international law;
- Send independent observers to monitor Israel 's human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem;
- Monitor and protest against a wave of racist legislation proposals that have been adopted, or are about be voted on, by the Knesset; and
- Cancel contracts and operations in Poland by Israeli companies that are clearly violating International Law through their servicing and building illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
Solidarnosc overcame immense odds to change the world in a way that few at that time thought possible. So many of us throughout the world were inspired to support Solidarity when you calmly spoke truth to power. As Poland assumes the leadership of the European Union, renew her moral standing and bring the world together once again, in this critical time of need.
Poland, what path will you choose?