Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are Palistinians Hobbled but United?

One of my biggest problems with the U.S. "War on Terror" is that I feel it ultimately will make us less safe. As I recall, Bin Laden's biggest beef with us is that we support corrupt regimes in the Middle East. Attacking Iraq brought down a terrible, vicious ruler, but it also has helped al Qaida recruit more fanatics.

Now, Israel is bombing the heck out of the Palestinians. I understand that Hamas started this by firing missiles at Israel, but this response reminds me of a press conference I heard around the time of the first Iraq war in which John Shalikashvili said that if Iraq violated the no-fly zone, the U.S. military response would be swift, brutal, and disproportionate.

I understand the Israeli position as described in this article, but I also fear this quote from this article:
Wisdom tells us that violence can only breed violence. Israel's brutality guarantees that its people will not be secure. Israel may destroy much and kill many in Hamas, but that is not the solution. Hamas was born because of the occupation .... Israel and its allies should address Palestinian grievances instead of aggravating them....
Daoud Kuttab's Washington Post op-ed Has Israel Revived Hamas? gets at the heart of my concern. By bringing out the heavy artillery and hitting so many targets, Israel buys more security in the short-term, but what will be the long-term result? I fear that these hostilities will turn Palistinian doves into hawks and unite them behind Hamas.

For Israel's sake, I hope that Robert Lieber's ideas in Hard Truths About the Conflict work out:
Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel...because they concluded that the effort to destroy the Jewish state had failed and that refusing to come to terms with it was harmful to their national interests. Ultimately, peace will be possible only if most Palestinians and their leaders become convinced that terrorism and violence are a dead end and that they cannot under any circumstances prevail over Israel through the use of force. If today's conflict leaves a seriously weakened and politically damaged Hamas, that result is more likely to enhance the prospects for peace than to weaken them.
But I fear the attitude voiced by a senior Hamas leader who said:
The Zionists have legitimized the killing of their children by killing our children.
I can't help the feeling that both sides' intransigence will ultimately result in more violence and less security. I hope I'm wrong and that this somehow paves the path toward a peaceful two-state solution.

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