Our interview with the poet M.R. Burch on Pressenza

Interview: American poet and peace activist Michael R. Burch

Milena Rampoldi

Interview: American poet and peace activist Michael R. Burch

(Image by World

The interview was about his peace plan for
Palestine. We asked him a few provocative questions which we are really
happy he answered. The idea of starting from LAW to bring PEACE is very
challenging. It is worth thinking about it. Especially if we compare the
actual apartheid in Israel with the one we had in the USA at the time
of Martin Luther King and in South Africa at the time of Nelson Mandela,
the two heroes of ProMosaik e.V.*

By Milena Rampoldi, of the editorial team of ProMosaik e.V

ProMosaik e.V.: As I can understand your point of
view LAW can bring PEACE. How do you think this is possible for
Palestinians and Jews after these hateful decades of war?

Michael R. Burch: Yes, I firmly believe it is
possible. And I think history demonstrates that peace is possible, when
the laws and courts are nonracist and just. Take, for example, the
situation of Jews in Germany after the Holocaust. Obviously, there were
very bitter feelings on the part of the Jews who survived the Holocaust.
Many of them left Germany, but many stayed. Today I believe there are
more than 200,000 Jews who live in Germany, and more Jews are emigrating
to Germany. Something very similar happened in the American South,
where I live. Before the mid 1900s we had slavery, then Jim Crow laws,
kangaroo courts and segregation. Black Americans could not drink from
the same water fountains as white people. They had to sit at the back of
the bus. But once the United States had fairer laws and courts, things
began to change for the better. Today I live in an upper-class
neighborhood that is open to everyone of every skin color and tone. And
we really do get along. So it is possible for fair laws and courts to
create friendships between former bitter enemies, over time.

ProMosaik e.V.: Do you think a real democracy with
no apartheid and equality of all in front of the law is enough to
guarantee the long-lasting peace? And why should it work considering all
the religious and nationalist movements in the region on both sides?

Michael R. Burch: I’m not sure that we can guarantee
a long-lasting peace. But I think we can greatly increase the chances
for a long-lasting peace, in a nonviolent way. I think this should work
despite the diverse religious and nationalistic movements. The United
States is extremely diverse. The European Union is extremely diverse.
The greater the diversity, the more equality becomes necessary, I
believe, or the group in power takes advantage of the other groups, and
that leads to friction and hostilities. Then things begin to escalate
and there is soon an avalanche of horrors.

ProMosaik e.V.: If we consider historical facts, it
is justice that leads to racial peace, not feelings. Can you explain
this thesis to our readers?

Michael R. Burch: Yes, I will use three examples of justice leading to racial peace. Not perfect peace, but relative peace.

(1) The situation of Jews and other “undesirable” people in Germany
improved quickly and remarkably after the Allies forced Germany to
create a fairer system of laws and courts.
(2) The situation of blacks and other minorities improved quickly in the
United States once American courts began to protect the victims rather
than the oppressors.
(3) The situation of blacks in South Africa began to improve quickly once fairer laws and courts were established.
There were no sudden outpourings of love and affection in these
cases. Rather, implementing a better system of justice allowed people on
both sides to see that they could live together in relative peace. That
led to more friendships forming, over time.

ProMosaik e.V.: Do you think we should give such much power to the USA? Would it not be better to take the veto right from the USA?

Michael R. Burch: I think it would be much better to
take the veto away from the permanent Security Council members. But the
superpowers do not trust each other, so I do not expect them to give up
their vetoes willingly. I’m sure they would veto their vetoes being
taken away!

ProMosaik e.V.: If we consider historical facts, it
is justice that leads to racial peace, not feelings. Is this peace
possible without the involvement of the masses of people?

Michael R. Burch: Yes, I think so. When the United
States began to reform its laws and courts, there were a few brave souls
who made it happen: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert
Kennedy, and a relatively small number of people with similar liberal
views. The majority of Americans did little or nothing. The attitudes
and beliefs of the masses did change over time.