Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jimmy Carter violates "taboo"

If former President Jimmy Carter expected to trigger a debate, he most certainly succeeded when his latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," was published.

To say that the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an albatross around our nation's neck for decades is an understatement.

To say that individuals living in the Middle East should be willing to live and work with their neighbors is stating the obvious.

To say that this drama should have ended a long time ago given the suffering of both peoples is a fact.

That a resolution of this conflict is imperative as a precondition for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, regardless of Mr. Olmert's protestations, as unanimously agreed by all nations in the region.

By bringing the attention of Americans to this conflict, viewed from the Palestinian perspective, President Carter made a gutsy move given that, as he stated on "Meet the Press," criticism of Israel is taboo in our nation.

Furthermore, it became increasingly clear during the past six years that U.S. foreign policy was largely devised in conjunction with Tel Aviv, particularly as it applied to the invasion of Iraq that was strongly encouraged by Sharon and right-wing members of the U.S. Jewish community, better known as "neoconservatives."

Their rationale: Israel does not like many of its neighbors and U.S. troops should get rid of their leaders. Nations such as Iraq, Iran and Syria were prominent on their list.

For a tiny nation such as Israel, living in the midst of Arab/Muslim nations, to decide that restructuring the Middle East to its liking was of the essence for its survival, can only be described as the ultimate exercise in arrogance.

While many of us would like to see changes in the region, "regime change" by military force is definitely not the answer as the enormous drama playing out in Iraq clearly proved.

Neoconservatives exercised a major influence in governmental and journalistic circles. Amazingly, their policies were embraced by Cheney-Bush until -- finally -- the results of their failed policies became clear to the great majority of Americans who expressed their views in the '06 election.

While the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for over five decades, failure to comprehend that Arabs/Muslims see in the humiliation of Palestinians the humiliation of them all, has been a major obstacle in negotiations.

Obviously, Prime Minister Olmert doesn't comprehend this fact of life given that, to this day, he would want us believe that there is no connection between the drama being played out in the region and the never-ending humiliation of Palestinians.

Unfortunately, during the past six years the Bush administration turned its back on the conflict and provided Sharon with carte blanche to do as he pleased -- just one of the innumerable mistakes that have led to the present situation in the Middle East.

The mixture of arrogance, greed and naivete displayed by Cheney-Bush and their neoconservative cohorts is truly mind boggling to those even vaguely familiar with Arab/Muslim customs and cultures.

Did these individuals really believe that they could impose "democracy" by military force given past history?

Arabs/Muslims are proud people and, when treated with arrogance they react negatively. Conversely, when treated with respect, they are very likely to respond positively.

But, that is clearly an issue that the occupants of the White House have not grasped. In fact, even after the release of the report by the Baker-Hamilton commission that made a strong case for dealing directly with Iran and Syria, Bush repeats the same preconditions that have not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

It takes a very dense individual to take actions that are so highly counterproductive.

The fact that the President of Iran has sent not one but two letters to the U.S. (one to the White House and one to the American people) is proof that Iranians are indeed interested in dialogue. But, as long as Bush sticks to his stupid preconditions, Iran will never cave.

As for President Carter, he clearly understands the urgency of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part and parcel of peaceful coexistence in the region.

Predictably, he has been the target of criticism by various Jewish individuals/institutions after the publication of his latest book given his "audacity" in criticizing Israel. One can only hope that by bringing these facts to light an honest debate will finally ensue that will accelerate the beginning of the end of this sad and bloody conflict.

Tearing down the wall Israel erected would be a great first step. In the era of globalization, living behind walls is a sure sign of defeat.


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