Peace may mean simply a lack on conflict. Depending on how good your rulers are, that peace may be worth less. Let’s look at some history.
The ancient Judeans preferred the home-rule of a corrupt band of usurpers over that of the Seleucid emperor–which is celebrated to this day as Hanukkah.
The leaders of the American Revolution certainly valued liberty over death–except for a few pacifist Quakers. That holiday is July 4th.
Mexico celebrates May 5th, not as the day they became independent from Spain, but in remembrance of removing a foreign prince as their titular ruler.
And today, we hear that a peace deal may be close between the Palestinians and Israel.
The Zionist settlers did not value peace over the conditions imposed on them by the British Empire, and, similarly, the emerging Palestinian nation rejected peace as a priority over liberty after it became clear that the surrounding Arab countries were not going to conquer Israel.
Wars or struggles for independence reject peace and conquest. Wars of conquest generate these struggles. Put differently, this isn’t an argument in favor of war. It’s an argument that sometimes people cannot be expected to endure “peace.” But their strife mainly arises after wars of conquest, which are bad.
In our time, this calculation has become distorted because we do not weigh other virtues against peace; we prefer war. American war has become a video game, where every time we lose a man, a new one appears from the ether and we keep playing. Because there is no cost to this war felt by the average American (the price of gas was much lower even 4 years into this occupation), the pain and suffering involved in it is borne by the few, and we never decide whether we’ve restored the balance of a just peace; we just keep going on.
Which is why the US has had nothing but a poisonous influence on the Arab-Israeli conflict. We are simultaneously feeding each side. We make one side rich, and give arms to the other, all while having the chutzpah to try and broker peace deals.
Our politicians, mostly Christians, make Israel a third-rail political issue because they don’t see the place as one where people live, but instead they see it as a mythical, “holy land” where the actors are playing out an apocalyptic play foretold by some vague prophecies. The people there aren’t supposed to go shopping and do laundry; they’re supposed to cause angels to sound trumpets.
No coincidence then that what Olmert is calling the closest it’s ever been to a peace deal comes from the French.