No More Enemies by Deborah A. Reich

The author is a Jewish-American-Israeli who has lived for many years in Israel/Palestine.  She posits a paradigm that some might think is naive, others might think is crazy, and a few might already grasp and want to bring into fruition.  Her paradigm in No More Enemies is that the notion of enemies is obsolete.

I agree with her, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Deb Reich hasn’t attended a Beyond War gathering or two in the 1980s; that’s when I first heard about many of the ideas she writes about.  But she brings them back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She writes in the first person, putting herself, her experiences and her personal growth into the story which I think helps the reader to understand the new paradigm.

Partnership is an idea whose time has come. Enemies is an idea whose time is past.

She makes a compelling argument for why we need to shift paradigms, but she doesn’t sound like a starry-eyed dreamer.  Deb Reich is a thoughtful realist.

Paradigms based on force are hard to jettison when they have so often delivered what the decision-makers wanted.

“Winning” and “losing” are part of the old paradigm and even our leaders are beginning to understand.

The next big things in human rights is going to be the right not to be enemies.

The concept of human rights today is limited by our understanding that the right belongs to “me” or “my group.” But the concept is evolving into a new interactive dimension — a human right not to be enemies is OUR right.

It’s my right AND your right interactively not to be enemies. It’s our right not to hurt or abuse or make war on and slaughter one another; not to be forced into playing, each vis-à-vis the other, a zero-sum game, where one side can live free and prosper – but only at the other’s expense. It’s our right to reject the idea that one must dominate and the other be dominated; that one must play the boot on the neck and the other must play the neck under the boot, with no other roles to choose from!  No more!  Time to reject that!

After describing the new paradigm, the author applies it to Israel-Palestine. One thing that Israelis and Palestinians have in common, she says, is their respective histories of displacement.  There’s a lot more in common, and she notes it is time to “stop pondering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and begin actualizing the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.”

This book is certainly thought-provoking but Deb Reich wants the reader to do more than just think about this new paradigm.  She wants action, and has designed the last third of the book as a toolbox for concrete actions that the reader can begin to take right now . . . today. . . to begin the shift to this new paradigm.

No More Enemies is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who cares about the Middle East, from whatever “side” you might identify.  By the end of the book, you likely will see your “side” and the “other” in a very different light.

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