Train­ing Is­raeli, Arab lead­ers to­gether breaks Cold War men­tal­ity.

Train­ing young Is­raeli and Arab lead­ers to­gether shat­ters the Cold War men­tal­ity

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Charles C. Kru­lak Charles C. Kru­lak, a re­tired U.S. Ma­rine Corps gen­eral, is a for­mer com­man­dant of the U.S. Ma­rine Corps and a mem­ber of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a young Ma­rine cap­tain com­mand­ing a ri­fle com­pany in Viet­nam, I had the op­por­tu­nity to have Is­rael’s leg­endary Gen. Moshe Dayan join my unit for a week. At one point we were lo­cated 1,000 me­ters south of the De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone and he asked me why the Ma­rine Corps was fight­ing in the moun­tains so far north. I an­swered him by say­ing, “This is where the en­emy is.” To this day his an­swer is em­bla­zoned in my mind and on my soul: “Yes, but the peo­ple are not here, and they are key to vic­tory; without the sup­port of the peo­ple, you are doomed to fail.”

Gen. Dayan’s in­sight rings as true to­day as it did then. For­tu­nately, it is not too late to em­ploy his wis­dom as we be­gin to re­think our ap­proach to the Mid­dle East un­der Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump. In its at­tempt to di­vide Is­rael much as Ger­many once was, Amer­ica’s an­ti­quated poli­cies have en­shrined Cold War diplo­macy in a re­gion that copes with far more com­plex chal­lenges. Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu has in­di­cated en­thu­si­asm for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion and might well be re­cep­tive to dif­fer­ent ap­proaches.

For­tu­nately, there may be a vi­able path for­ward — one that cap­tures Gen. Dayan’s vi­sion of pop­u­lar sup­port by unit­ing peo­ple in­stead of di­vid­ing them. It is a path that can be found in the ed­u­ca­tion of to­day’s youth and the de­vel­op­ment of op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to work in­ter­de­pen­dently. That path for­ward can be found work­ing in the city of Ariel lo­cated in Sa­maria. Here we see a “new” model that has gen­er­ated some very en­cour­ag­ing and un­ex­pected out­comes: a city with a univer­sity, a med­i­cal com­plex, an in­dus­trial re­gion where 3,000 Pales­tini­ans are em­ployed, and the Na­tional Cen­ter for Lead­er­ship (NCL).

The NCL is a unique ex­per­i­men­tal learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment at­tended by more than

43,000 Is­raeli and Arab young peo­ple dur­ing its first four years of op­er­a­tion. There, his­tor­i­cally toxic re­la­tion­ships are chang­ing, as long-held fears and sus­pi­cions be­tween Arabs and Jews are be­ing sup­planted with shared goals and ad­ven­tures. Trained fa­cil­i­ta­tors set up chal­leng­ing prob­lems that in­vite par­tic­i­pants to eval­u­ate and de­velop their re­la­tional lead­er­ship skills.

Naf­tali Ben­nett, Is­rael’s min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion ob­served, “The Na­tional Lead­er­ship Cen­ter in Ariel is pre­par­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers, by pro­vid­ing a stag­ing ground for per­sonal growth and the unit­ing of re­la­tion­ships in an ever-chang­ing and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment.” This next gen­er­a­tion of youth who are grow­ing up to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate dif­fer­ing cul­tures and re­li­gions are the very “peo­ple” that Gen. Dayan sig­naled were so im­por­tant.

Ad­di­tion­ally, in 2011, the U.S.Is­rael Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, a small, spe­cial forces-sized non­profit, shat­tered the glass ceil­ing on U.S.-Is­rael en­gage­ment by un­abashedly ex­plor­ing the com­mu­ni­ties of Judea-Sa­maria/West-Bank with mem­bers of Congress. This en­tire area is cen­tral to the is­sues in­volved in U.S. peace ini­tia­tives. These vis­its have pro­vided and con­tinue to pro­vide our lead­ers with a first­hand op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover the ef­fects of U.S. pol­icy that of­ten ap­pear to the peo­ple as at­tempts to pre­de­ter­mine the out­come of would-be ne­go­ti­a­tions. As these mem­bers visit Ariel and see the re­mark­able changes that are tak­ing place be­tween Arabs and Is­raelis in that city, they come away with a vi­sion of what can truly be achieved.

Forc­ing two peo­ples to adopt a pa­ter­nal­is­tic pol­icy that has its ori­gins in the Cold War has proven to be a non­starter. What’s more, main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo will very likely do lit­tle but incite fresh vi­o­lence among deeply im­pres­sion­able young peo­ple that will, in turn, pro­duce an an­gry gen­er­a­tion fu­eled by a cul­ture of ret­ri­bu­tion.

There is a say­ing in the mil­i­tary that one can­not de­feat an idea with bul­lets and bombs; one can only de­feat an idea with a bet­ter idea. Per­haps that bet­ter idea is al­ready be­ing for­mu­lated in Ariel. I would hope that our new ad­min­is­tra­tion would take a fresh look at op­tions other than the one that has been on the ta­ble for decades.

Main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo will very likely do lit­tle but incite fresh vi­o­lence among deeply im­pres­sion­able young peo­ple.

ILLUSTRATION BY LINAS GARSYS

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