How possible is it to bring peace in the Middle East?

Zabie Mansoory

I know what you are going to say: How can peace and Middle East fit in the same line? I am here to let you know that it is possible if both sides are willing. Israelis and the Palestinians agreed on a cease-fire Nov. 26, aiming to lead to first talks between leaders from both sides since June, when the deadly attack on Lebanon started.

Palestinians are calling for the cease-fire to be extended to the West Bank, where people are being killed every day by the Israeli war machines. Now, I am not here to say that this is a one-sided conflict, but I will say that Israel cannot be serious about peace while they are still occupying Palestinian most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Violence, violence, and more violence, have been a never-ending cycle in the Middle East, I do not really have the exact ingredients for peace, but one thing is indisputable – the Bush administration’s “neoconservative” foreign policy is an utter failure and has made the region a more dangerous place.

Bush’s one-sided policies of unilateral war and militarism to control the region, including its oil and labor resources, have created much of the turmoil. I am not saying that the Bush administration started this whole problem, but they have contributed nothing to the betterment of it. I would even argue that it has made it worse. Like the problems, the solutions are inter-related, to enable the people of the Middle East to achieve peace, security, true national sovereignty, real democracy and a better life.

At this point, I do not know where to begin. I commend both sides on their very important and much needed first step, the cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israelis in the Gaza territory. While shaky, it has been holding – no rockets fired from Gaza to southern Israel in exchange for Israeli troop withdrawal. This suggests possible steps forward for peace and a Palestinian state, although many issues like the apartheid “security” wall, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and exchange of prisoners, need to be talked through and resolved. Congress should support peace efforts, and perhaps read former President Jimmy Carter’s new book “Peace, Not Apartheid.”

By now you may wonder, “Why should we care about the Middle East and specifically the Israeli and Palestinian conflict?” I do not know where to begin at this point – should I begin with what Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaida and many other “terrorist” groups started? Let’s look at it from few a angles.

1. Fighting terrorism: Terrorism in the region is on the rise and shows no sign of waning. When coupled with high unemployment and poverty, dehumanization and indignity are known causes of terrorism. Despite this, Israel continues to subject the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples to large-scale military aggression that is annihilating the modest infrastructure they have managed to build after decades of conflict. Bombing densely populated areas for the purpose of forcing civilian populations to change their government is a clear case of state terror.

2. Promoting democracy: If the Bush administration is going stick with its decision to remain a sideline observer with the dismantlement of a emerging democratic society – the occupied Palestinian Territories – WHAT message is the United States is sending a message to the Arab and Muslim worlds about where its interests lie. Democracy in the Middle East means to elect the people that U.S. government wants. Otherwise, you’ll be starved and suffocated like the Palestinians.

3. Bring back human rights, in Muslims and Arabs: people do not even know what human right are. Just a few months ago, Israeli soliers killed 200 Lebanese and almost destroyed a country with the U.S. refusing to call for a cease-fire.c That is human rights for Muslims and Arabs.

In order to find a way out of this mess, the U.S. must recognize that Palestine’s right to exist is just as crucial as Israel’s right to exist. Instead, the U.S. has spent its energy on regime change, which has only brought about more radical regimes.

If we “stay the course” as this administration plans to with hostility to the Arab and Muslim worlds, then we should not be surprised when they respond with belligerence to continuing humiliation and not-quite-human treatment by the international community.

Let us see how much our government well help this time around in regards to “Peace in the Middle East.” The time for equal-handed policy is way over due and I hope the new congress will take some action to help the situation.