Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Goals of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs Need Not Be Incompatible, But They Are

The Waterbury Republican-American on January 14 published a letter that might most charitably be described as naive, under the headline "Goals of Israelis, Palestinians need not be incompatible."

We follow the text with a response submitted to the newspaper by PP.

Goals of Israelis, Palestinians Need Not Be Incompatible

Death will be the future in Gaza for years to come. Some deaths come immediately, delivered by a bombarding helicopter warship or by a single bullet in close-range guerrilla warfare. The bullet could be deadly to either side.

Other deaths come somewhat more slowly through contaminated water, or, perhaps, no water. Food shortages result in vulnerability to immediate or long-term illness. Some will beat death in the short run but live with injuries resulting in broken, pain-filled bodies for their lifetime.

What happens to the soul or spirit of those who survive? This is the province of theology and psychology, but even an amateur can imagine.

We in the United States have been involved in Middle Eastern politics for more than 60 years and increasingly have supported Israel. In recent months, President-elect Obama and future Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have been outspoken in their support for Israel. However, both are known for a broadness of vision and uncommon abilities. They have 'capital to spend' in Congress and among the people.

Despite all the national problems that beset us, and him, Mr. Obama must put peacemaking in Israel/Palestine on his crowded list of 'front-burner' agenda items. There are intelligent voices, not heard for some years in our government or never heard before, that need to get on the job, helping him to make real progress among the weary disputing parties he would bring to the table.

Despite all the death and despair in Gaza, there are still those there who live in hope, such as the courageous who serve on the ambulance squads and the medical and associated staff who attempt to keep the hospitals operative and patients alive. Hamas was elected in Gaza because the near hopeless Gazans ousted their previous leaders in a democratic election in the belief Hamas at least would give them an honest government and continue to provide the many social services that had been part of its role in their society. As the brutal war rages on, the future of Hamas is unclear, as is what Israel may or may not accomplish in Gaza.

What is clear is the United States must become an 'honest broker' for peace again, or for the first time, whatever the truth may be.

Despite their immersion in death, let us operate on the belief there is still some hope alive in Gaza. Let the United States work with those who have wisdom, in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere in the world, among our allies and our temporary enemies. The path to a lasting peace will be long and thorny.

Israel needs security and the Palestinians need justice. Securing these compatible goals must start in 2009, and as a still proud and powerful nation, The United States is called to action.

Judith and Peter Haddad

Response from PP

Re the letter, "Goals of Israelis, Palestinians need not be incompatible," by Judith and Peter Haddad, published January 14.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence, issued at the time of Israel's reestablishment, states: "We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East."

As the Haddads point out, Hamas was elected in Gaza. (Actually, they were elected by all the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza.)

The Hamas charter states: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it."

To be fair, it must be noted the Palestinian Arabs didn't really have a peace party as an alternative. Hamas' electoral opposition was the "moderate" Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas. The first goal listed in the Fatah constitution is the "complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence."

The two movements are also in agreement regarding methods, with Hamas' charter stating "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement" and Fatah's including "Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine."

Thus, while the Haddads are quite right that the goals of the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs need not be incompatible, they currently are incompatible.

As long as both Hamas and Fatah, along with countless other Palestinian Arab terror groups, continue with their current methods and current goals, bloodshed and death for both Arabs and Israelis is unavoidable.

The Kassam and Grad rocket attacks and mortar fire aimed at civilians in the Israeli cities of Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva are designed to terrorize and have made life unlivable in these areas for eight years. Yet it is undeniable that the Palestinian Arabs, while responsible for the violence, actually suffer more from it than the Israelis. It is thus in the true best interests of Palestinian Arabs as well as Israelis that Israel succeed in its current effort to eliminate the rocket fire from Gaza.

America can best serve the true needs and interests of the Palestinian Arabs, as opposed to their unsupportable goals, by standing with Israel, today as it defends itself against Arab terror and always as it tries to convince the Palestinian Arabs to change their goals to no longer be incompatible with peace and brotherhood.

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