Friday, July 21, 2006

The Path to Middle East Peace Must Involve Israel and its Arab Neighbors

The current war between Israel and Hezbollah is just the latest surface crisis in the more deeply-rooted problem in the region. It's an extremely complex situation that goes back to 1947, and as some say, thousands of years.

I want to clearly state my position on this subject for those readers who may have misinterpreted my overall views. To begin with, I believe the Palestinian people have a very legitimate claim, and I am very sympathetic to their cause. I feel great sadness and frustration that their leadership has consistently failed them. They are a people who deserve a homeland, like all people. And I have been very supportive over the years of any and all efforts Israel has made, unilaterally and/or upon pressure from the United States, to negotiate, make land concessions, prisoner exchanges, and other moves as a start to the peace process. I think the current violence is horrible and so unnecessary. But if there's ever going to be a lasting peace, a solid two-state co-existence, it's going to have to come from the involvement of not just Israel, but of its Arab neighbors. Let me be as clear on this point as I can: The Palestinian problem is not exclusively an Israeli problem.

To understand what's at stake in the current Middle East crisis is to understand how wars are played out today. The rules of engagement have changed dramatically. The Muslim fundamentalist enemy of the U.S. and Israel is an enemy that places more value in its extremist causes, and winning, than it does on life itself. It's a jihadist enemy that's willing to strap on bombs and blow themselves and everyone around them to pieces. Rather than fear death, this enemy eagerly embraces it as martyrdom. It's a chilling thought, but we've gone from Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) to the terrorist nuclear threat. It is not easy to fight this enemy, and traditional tactical and strategic warfare methods do not apply. Which is why we cannot summarily dismiss as "disproportionate" or an "overreaction" Israel's retaliation to Hezbollah's attack on Israel.

Yes, Israel was attacked. As the United Nations' Kofi Annan said Thursday, the cause of the violence "was Hezbollah's provocative attack on July 12."
Annon added that "Whatever other agendas they may serve, Hezbollah's actions, which it portrays as defending Palestinian and Lebanese interests, in fact do neither. On the contrary, they hold an entire nation hostage; set back prospects for negotiation of a comprehensive Middle East peace."As anyone knows, the U.N. is hardly the great defender of Israel. But the simple fact is, this was an unprovoked act of war, yet placing blame is not what's important. What's critical here is the future, and what must be done to get the region headed in a direction of relative peace and security.

To date, the leading Arabs nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, have been non-existent in the Middle East peace process. They've essentially deserted the Palestinian people and left Israel to find a solution to the problem. While they and the world decried the injustices leveled against their Palestinian brethren, they themselves did nothing to help them. Let's not forget how Jordan, Lebanon and Syria kicked out Yassir Arafat and the PLO over the years. And how, overall, Palestinians living within Israel are in fact treated better than in many Arab countries.

There's a critical balance of power crisis in the Middle East right now which threatens not just Israel, but these very same Arab nations. Leaders such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Syria's Bashar Al-Assad, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanon's Fuad Saniora must decide, and quickly, if they're going to allow Iran--and the Islamic extremist terror groups it supports, funds, arms and trains--to dominate the Middle East and spread its religious fundamentalism across the region. If the latter scenario is unacceptableble, then they must also then bring a reasonable, rational and earnest voice to the negotiating table. They are at a critical crossroads and must choose between diplomacy and terror. They must join Israel, the U.S. and the European Union in working towards a realistic peace.

But more important, the Palestinian people themselves must ultimately decide whether or not to leave its fate in the hands of violent jihadists committed to Israel's destruction, or to leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority. Let me repeat again, this is not an exclusive Israel problem. Israel cannot unilaterally create peace. It has to have committed partners at the negotiating table. Currently, such partners do not exist. The overall political and military strategy in the region today has unfortunately been dominated by terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah backed by the fascist regime of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If this continues, the safety and security of Israel, the Arab states and America will be gravely threatened.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like the build up in rhetoric just before the Iraqi invasion. Good going Ostroy, I'm on your side of this conversation. I doubt you are on the side of today's Democratic party, but at least you're thinking straight. Now if we can only get you to start pulling the 'right' lever in the voting machines...


Anonymous said...

Your comments seems obvious. Why, then, can't there be a cease fire and cease killing so all sides can talk.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is becoming a habit now: my third ever comment in as many days. As I predicted in my last comment, I wasn’t the only one “crawling out the woodwork” in revulsion to your position & tone. Over 70 comments to that infamous posting of yours! Quite a reaction.

I must admit that going into this, I was not deeply informed about the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I had touched on it in school & read bits & pieces, like most other people, & generally received the opinions of my Jewish friends, but didn’t have anything close to a thorough background & certainly never heard any dissenting Arab/Palestinian opinions. Hence, I have never before felt any authority to comment on the issue & generally had a one-sided view anyhow. I still feel little authority to comment, but I did & I do feel a compulsion to respond to your blog postings, based purely on my sense of outrage at the obvious inhumanity, injustice & immorality of the Israeli Defense Force’s vicious & hypocritical attacks on Lebanon, & your blind defense of it. I have since read a lot more. I have spent the whole week reading, watching & listening from all angles. The history is indeed complicated & I think everyone should be better versed in it if possible & learn from it because it is one of the most divisive & dominant issues of our time. I am still no scholar on the subject. But the thing is that one doesn’t have to be a scholar on the subject to see that the IDF is massively abusing its massive military power & is committing war crimes. There is no excuse for such the wanton bombardment of civilians & the infrastructure of Lebanon. That is willful, reckless aggression without any regard for human life. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between “Islamic extremist terror” & Isreali extremist terror.

From what I’ve understood though, “the leading Arabs nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, have been non-existent in the Middle East peace process” because this just the way Israel & the US wanted it, & that “Jordan, Lebanon and Syria kicked out Yassir Arafat and the PLO over the years” for fear of the same Israeli attacks like those being inflicted on Lebanon today, if they didn’t do so. Israeli previously invaded Lebanon in 1982 to eradicate the PLO & were initially welcomed, but IDF heavy-handedness resulted in the kind of resentment that birthed Hezbollah & it’s brand of “extremism”, which eventually saw Israel withdrawing from Lebanon.

“The Palestinian problem is not exclusively an Israeli problem.” This statement shows inherent racism & bias, & is pejorative by implying that it is the Palestinians that are the problem. I am still becoming acquainted with the two-state solution & all the hiccups in the peace process, & we could debate fault in many more pages, but it seems pretty clear that there would be a far greater possibility of peace if Israel would abide by international law& return to pre-1967 borders.

And as for “Hezbollah's attack on Israel”, that excuse for the IDF invasion that has been touted, namely the abduction of those two, seemingly-now-forgotten soldiers, well, that’s a sham. The tit-for-tat abductions of respective members of the IDF & Hezbollah, while regretful, are apparently not uncommon events by all accounts. Israel is as guilty as Hezbollah in making incursions across the border for prisoners. Even if it was a unique event it hardly merited such a heavy-handed Israeli response. Not only was the Israeli government’s response brutal & unjust to the majority of the country, it is also entirely counter-productive to achieving the stated goal of releasing the abductees. In short, the more I’ve thought about it the more it appears obvious that the abduction of the two IDF soldiers as the stated reason for the invasion of Lebanon was simply a pretext for a pre-planned actions. Those defending the IDF’s invasion like to dwell on the rockets being fired by Hezbollah, but always fail to mention that this only occurred as a pitiful, & equally regretful response to Israel’s actions. So my opinion of the Israeli government actions has degenerated further: I initially though that their attack of Lebanon was an overreaction, a crime of passion, if you will, but now I think that there was malice of forethought, which is far more heinous.

I am aware that I’m attacking only Israel in this diatribe, & that Hezabollah, Hamas, et al have also been guilty of despicable atrocities. Why single out the IDF actions for criticism? Well, because I guess I expect better of them. Perhaps this reflects my inherent prejudice against the Israeli’s enemies, but the point is that terror is appalling whenever someone commits it, & particularly so when the supposed “good guys” are perpetrating more grievous, deadly atrocities. It’s the same kind of shock & revulsion & let-down that I felt after the Abu Ghraib revelations.

I’d also like to toss out this contentious thought that’s being brewing in my mind throughout the week: I have also become very aware that there is a definite reticence to criticize the IDF invasion by not only the US government & your blog, but by the commercial US media at large. I found this curious, puzzling & frustrating. It certainly smacks of bias, when the likes of ABC lead with & dwell on Israeli casualties due the relatively few Hezbollah rocket attacks & understate the massive damage & number of losses incurred by Lebanon due to the IDF’s round-the-clock bombing with US-made & sponsored state-of-the-art weapons. I started reading about this too. I’d always assumed that stories of the strength of the “Israeli lobby” were vulgar & exaggerated. But having looked into it, I am beginning to gain an appreciation of the how such bias can occur, how deep it runs throughout US society, how it’s influenced my thinking on the issues, & possibly yours, Andy. Check out this site & try to tell me that all these people in senior positions in US media companies wouldn’t generate & instill bias into their organizations:
It seems only natural that many of them would be unwilling to criticize the brethren. Such bias might be understandable, but it is unhealthy for the dissemination of truth & unfair to the like of the Lebanese. The results of such institutional bias is well described by this article relating to the BBC’s coverage, which, tellingly, is actually a lot more balanced then any mainstream US news outlets:
Such influence doesn’t only exist in the media of course, but also in political circles:
All of which helps to explain the US & UK’s unwillingness to call for an immediate ceasefire & Hillary Clinton’s breakfast/lunch date with Murdoch. I have a feeling that this controversial comment might open up another avalanche of comments & I’m certain that the old “anti-Semitism” silver bullet is going to loaded & fired, but it would be refreshing if such juvenile, knee-jerk rejoinders could be resisted in favor of honest & thoughtful responses. I think it needs to be owned up to & addressed.

BTW, Andy, having you watched any of the ‘Democracy Now!’ coverage? Did you hear what Israeli Professor, from Haifa no less, critiquing the Israeli Defense Force & government? I guess you’d be tempted to dismiss him as a self-hating Jew? There must be many such self-hating Jews around, for I have read many similar views emanating from within Israel. Have read of any of Juan Cole’s articles & links as to what is occurring in Lebanon? How can you condone that?

Anonymous said...

anonymous, there is so much wrong with your post. you're either ignorant or a blatant anti-semite or both. perhaps you should stop reading others opinions so much and try to have some sort of intelligent one yourself.

One thing I will suggest to you is that the U.S.'s strong support of Israel over the years just might be because Israel is the only rational, sane Democratic ally we have in an obvious land of craziness. Perhaps you'd feel much safer ion this world is there was no Israel and Iran, Hams, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda etc ruled the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Thank God the USA has supported the Holy State of Israel. Israel has been protected for this glorious time when The Rapture shall occur; the end of the world is here and ture Christians will ascend into Heaven. Israel could not have done this had the USA not supported it. Thanks be to Israel and the USA.

Cranky Daze said...

Oh, this makes me so happy.

The End Of The World
Produced and Directed by George Bush and Richard Cheney, brought to you live by FOX News and narrated by Bill O'Reilly with comments by Ann Coulter.

I presume that you, "anonymous #3" expect to be one those "ture" Christians who will ascend into Heaven.

I've always been curious about one thing. Well, I've been curious about a lot of things, but this one does interest me a great deal in context of your apparent belief.

How, exactly, do you plan to ascend to something that is so far away that even our most powerful telescopes have not detected any sign of it? I've seen many artists renditions of Jesus sitting on a cloud as people in white robes with their arms raised, float through the air. Do you see any kind of problem occuring when you reach an altitude where there is no oxygen to breathe? How about when you get up there so high that the temperatures would turn you into a popsicle? Since the light from even the closest stars takes millions of years to even reach earth, how long do you think it will take (floating through space, as it were) to reach Heaven, even if it's located on the backside of one or the nearer planets that we can't see? What about lunch? Is Halliburton prepared to pack a few tidbits for your journey?

Look, I'm a Christian, raised in an Evangelical religion by a mother who easily qualified as a zealot. Although I've reached a stage in life where I question the logic behind much of what I was taught, I do believe in God. I also think that the teachings of Jesus Christ are the best instructions we've ever had for traveling through this life. It's hard to argue with "Thou shalt not steal." "Thou shalt not covet." "Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long..." And of course the big one..."Thou shalt not kill." Christ taught a whole sub-set of suggestions or commands that, if we followed them, would benefit us much more than anything written in any other book ever published.

But He also warned against "false prophets." That brings to mind George Bush and most of his minions. If you are a Christian, do you really think that God would enlist a blatant liar to bring his goals to fruition? The Bible tells us that the Lord hates a lying tongue, and I have a niggling suspicion that He would not select a proven liar to represent him or assist Him in fulfilling His aims. Indeed, I think that if there is such a thing as an anti-Christ, GWB with his phoney, pathetic interpretation of what it is to be a Christian, comes dangerously close to qualifying for that lofty position. Jesus instructed us to love our enemies. Can you, in your arrogance, even imagine Christ flipping the bird (or approving of it) to someone who challenged him?

I believe there is a reason the Bush administration is so out of control, but I don't think it has anything to do with God. I believe it has a lot more to do with greed and the lust for power.

We were given brains to help us understand, and the ability to question things that don't make sense to us. Try using yours.

Anonymous said...

The "ture" or is that "turd" christians are now wanting ascension because they're been so instrumental in the rise of the worst US presidency in history. They are cuttin' and runnin'! No, really, the year 2012 prediction of the rapture, the end times, the end of the Mayan calendar, etc, etc, has been around for awhile. The "ture" christians believe it is only for them. Typical.

Perhaps, George Bush and company are examples of those false prophets we in the judeo-christian world were warned against. But, when you only use a small percentage of your brain to think things through...well you get Anon#3 posts above. Good will prevail over evil. GWB and Cheney will get the instant karma. The world will be a better place when the corruption is revealed and dealt with, no matter what country or organization is involved. Has anyone seen Ralph Reed, lately? What rock is Tom DeLay under? Who just got slapped with a lawsuit in the Plame case. See? God does work in mysterious ways...

Anonymous said...

Not to mention Hezbollah getting the sh** bombed out of them, in reference to the post above. These "wars" have been going on for centuries in this middle eastern region. The bible tells us so... Perhaps the Rapture is all about people finally saying enough already!

Anonymous said...

My picture of Muhammad:

(@) (@)

Anonymous said...

This war between Isreal and radical Islam, unfortunately will continue. Isreal cannot and will not be defeated. Almighty God made a convenant with Abraham that the land of Cannon will belong to his desendence. The people of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The scriptures predicted the return of Isreal to the land of promise. Peace will finally come with the return of Jesus Christ, The Lamb of God, Savior of mankind!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous commentator! The Jewish state of Israel is blessed by God. As well as the United States for supporting Israel. We live in troubled times the return of our Lord Jesus is closely upon us all! For you brothers and sisters that read this and don't believe, read the bible, seek God and he will allow you to find him and the truth! Seek and you will find! Jesus Love You!

Anonymous said...

The world is too full of religion and not enough spirit - the direct connect to the divine! Man's spin on religion is - God gives us the right to kill those who are not like us. God gives us the right to discriminate against those who do not believe as we do. They do not listen to the small voice within, they listen to false prophets. But God gives man the free will or agency to commit human folly. The sooner folks lay off the religion, the bible, and just know what's in their heart, the sooner these messes will decrease.

Anonymous said...

Jesus siad love your emeneys not blow them to peices