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The Brazilian Contribution To Palestinian-Israeli Peace

By Claudia G. S. Martins

As a Brazilian geographer, I have been seeking ways for the


international community in general and Brazil in particular, to help in
resolving the political stalemate in the Middle East.

Having studied the territories currently held by Israel and the


Palestinian Authority, I have come to the conclusion that the region's
natural resources are insufficient for properly sustaining its ever-
growing population. Palestinian rural settlements that rely mainly on
agriculture have suffered major setbacks. The shrinking quantity of
drinking water from springs, rain, wells and the national network has
dangerously affected its quality. There must be a reduction in
irrigated agriculture in order to meet the growing needs of domestic
consumption. Drilling new wells can only provide more water for
domestic needs and for ventures that require less water than
irrigated agriculture. Prioritization of water usage is a difficult political
judgement to make. This is particularly the case for the Palestinian
Water Authority, which has very limited control over supply and
distribution from the deep wells. These are is currently limited and
unreliable, thus cannot supply the needs of the Palestinian
population (Scarpa David J., The Quality and Sustainability of Water
Resources Available to Arab Villages to the West of the Divide in the
Southern West Bank).
The international community can assist in relieving the population
pressures on the region's environmental conditions through
providing all communities with opportunities to immigrate to other
countries. Brazil is particularly suitable for this task due to its
similarities to Palestine, its natural potential for agribusiness and its
experience in agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas.

Clearly, geography does not offer a complete answer to the


aspirations of both nations. Psychological, cultural, religious and
historical dimensions are sometimes more critical than common
sense and objective, rational analysis. Both Palestinians and Israelis
see the country as their ancestral home and each will argue that
they are a nation, defined by its territory and not only ethnic
communities with cultural needs.
However, both Jewish and Palestinian populations are currently
dispersed in many countries and it would be impossible to settle all
of them in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan
River. Both nations regard the land as their national centre, but their
branches in their respective Diasporas flourish and share their
national destinies.
they are a nation, defined by its territory and not only ethnic
communities with cultural needs.
However, both Jewish and Palestinian populations are currently
dispersed in many countries and it would be impossible to settle all
of them in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan
River. Both nations regard the land as their national centre, but their
branches in their respective Diasporas flourish and share their
national destinies.
Israel is already considered by its 5 million Jewish citizens as the
centre of the entire Jewish nation with its 12 or 13 million people.
The State of Israel serves as the symbolic Jewish national home
despite its inability to offer shelter for all Jews. Similarly, the
Palestinians are currently dispersed in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon,
Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in many other
countries, including communities all over the Western World. Their
community in Palestine may serve as their national centre with the
full participation of the Diaspora communities.
Brazil can offer a new base for Jewish and Palestinian communities,
particularly those who currently live in appalling conditions. Brazil has
a long tradition of tolerance and full religious freedom. States like
São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paranã and Mato Grosso do Sul,
welcome religious organisations that coexist side by side, including
mosques and churches of many denominations, as well as animistic
African religions. São Paulo, where I live, has one the largest Arab
communities in the world. Its metropolitan area has 19 million people
and in 2005, it will be the second largest city in the world. So Brazil
could perfectly absorb great numbers of hard working immigrants
like the Palestinians and the Israelis.
I am aware that my proposal may irritate some people. But it should
be clear that it is not meant to deny either Israelis or Palestinians
their right to their homeland. Their common country should serve as
both sides' national centre.
One of the great Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,
wrote that the main contribution Jews made to humankind was the
emphasis on the dimension of time, rather than space. Jews began
as nomads, free of geographical limitations. When they eventually
settled in their land, their existence remained based on time beyond
physical constraints.

Modern people may be seen as creatures who live in urban deserts


that keep reminding them of the limits of space. Rabbi Heschel
writes: "Technical civilization is man's conquest of space. The
danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit
all aspirations in the realm of time, where the goal is not to have but
to be, not to own but to give, not control but to share, not to subdue
but to be in accord... life goes wrong when the control of space, the
acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern".
Therefore, the national and cultural identity of Israelis and
Palestinians can remain intact, regardless of their physical location of
writes: "Technical civilization is man's conquest of space. The
danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit
all aspirations in the realm of time, where the goal is not to have but
to be, not to own but to give, not control but to share, not to subdue
but to be in accord... life goes wrong when the control of space, the
acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern".
Therefore, the national and cultural identity of Israelis and
Palestinians can remain intact, regardless of their physical location of
residence. Receiving a Brazilian permanent residency visa will not
require individuals to give up their current citizenship, nor their
national aspirations. Offering new opportunities in Brazil is intended
to serve as a humanitarian measure on an individual basis, and can
help to complement the final political solution in the Middle East.