What are they battling about?
New Perspectives on Israeli/Palestinian Current Crisis
For an in-depth analysis of any controversial issue, you must climb out of the box of mainstream media and explore those views that are impartial. This 2009 op-ed of Jan 7 is by the co-director of the Earth Rights Institute, click here which works with the UN to offer a course in land rights.
by Alanna HartzokI have for years now viewed the Israeli/Palestinian situation as a microcosm of the conflicts throughout the world and for many past centuries. Essentially, these are fights to control land and resources. Each side battles back and forth with reasons why an area is theirs rather than the others’ -- that their particular god has said it was theirs and that their particular god was on their side fighting to take it and keep it from the other. We humans have not yet learned to fairly share our world.
Even under a two-state solution, you can be certain that a few people in each state would come to own and control more land than others, as is true now in Israel, while the gap between rich and poor Israelis and Palestinians would thus continue to widen.
I have looked at these problems of wealth gap, poverty, and war for more than 30 years now and have come to the full realization that we need a democratic land ethic of equal rights to the planet as a birthright, and the implementation of policies -- such as land value taxation, which is the social capturing of socially-generated value accruing to land and natural resources -- for the benefit of everyone. UN HABITAT Action Agenda includes this policy recommendation as endorsed by consensus of all UN member states.
Applied to Israel/Palestine, there should be a Resource Rent Authority established to collect all the land rent of the entire land area; then these funds should pay for public goods and services -- education, health care, infrastructure improvements, etc. -- to benefit all on an equitable basis. With this policy there is no need to partition the land based on tribal identities and history stories; just share the land rent based on the human identity of equal rights to the earth.
For more on this principle and policy approach you can enroll in this online course and program on Land Rights and Land Value Capture here: click here
JJS: However, predetermining how government should spend the recovered rents, such as on public goods like roads and schools, denies the people the opportunity of deciding how to spend the revenue. Further, it does not return the socially-generated value on a per capita basis. You might not use a freeway but ride a bike, I might not use a public school but hire a private tutor. If Earth’s worth does belong to us equally, why not disburse it equally?
Sharing rent on a per capita basis not only mitigates the opposition of those who hope to get rich or at least comfortable in real estate. It also strengthens the identity of the recipients with the larger jurisdiction that does the collecting and disbursing. If government builds even something good like a health clinic, you can’t tell how politicians paid for it, whether with rents or with taxes on income or on business. So you have no reason to identify with it. But if you get a check from the Bi-National Regional Stewards, then your consciousness can rise.
One, getting an equal share of the local land value helps one to see oneself as equal to others, others as equal to you. That tangible sense of equality makes it easier to tolerate the presence and differences of others.
Also, getting a rent-share check sent to your makes it easier to see yourself as a unique person rather just a cipher in an ethnic group. With a species-wide identity, one can more easily see “the other” as human.
Regardless of how the land rent gets spent, just recovering it would help bring peace and prosperity to any troubled land.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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