This week's question | 2006-10-24

Will it be War or Peace in the Middle East?

Any observer who follows the heated public debate taking place presently in Israel, in the aftermath of its war on Lebanon, would be perplexed by both the quandary Israel has thrown itself into, and the total lack of a vision towards getting out from her political predicament.

While Israeli leaders continue their hollow rhetoric of not talking to ?terrorist organizations, terrorist governments, and state sponsors of terrorism?, the consensus among pundits and analysts across the political spectrum in Israel today is that they need to think out of the box, and find a long term solution to the on-going conflict.

The erstwhile Israeli doctrine of needing ?territories? to defend the Israel against Arab ?aggression? has totally lost credibility even among the Israelis themselves. Last year, a number of former Israeli chiefs-of-staff published an article in Haaretz in which they totally discredited the Israeli pretexts for occupying the Golan. They actually described Israel?s defensive needs to keep its hold on the Golan as a myth that can only find credence among the laymen who are ignorant of modern warfare strategies and technologies. They argued that the only way to secure Israel?s northern borders is through a negotiated peace settlement with the Syrians.

Today, the Zionist doctrine with a religious fervor is the only reason offered by the right wing in Israel to continue their policies of occupation and expansion, albeit thinly disguised behind the pretext of fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, the Israeli political establishment continues to demonstrate its extraordinary incapability of understanding the historic inevitability of the principle of ?Land for Peace?.

The last round of atrocities committed by Israel, and the massive destruction of Lebanon might be the harbinger of near-to-come hostilities, attacks, counter attacks, death, destruction, and bloodshed. However, the simple raw fact has never been more highlighted than before is that the Arab?s will to resist has not diminished. Despite all the political, financial, and military support garnered by Israel, the US, and their allies in order to demolish the resistance spirit on the Arab side and force us to succumb, we have proven that we can always find imaginative means to withstand, resist, and retaliate.

While Israel and the United States are trying to market the notion of an alliance between them and the so-called ?moderates? in the Arab world, their own advisors are clearly warning them that these gimmicks aiming at buying time are an obvious manifestation of their profoundly misguided policies.

One strategic outcome of the latest war on Lebanon was that, for the first time ever, the Israelis might realize that they cannot continue to depend on their sheer military superiority to secure their borders while occupying our lands and preventing the Palestinians from establishing their free, sovereign, and viable state. This realization might convince the Israeli leadership to reconsider the pan-Arab peace initiative that was adopted by all Arab countries, without exception, offering Israel comprehensive peace and total normalization of relations in return for ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Syrian Golan, and whatever remains occupied from Lebanon.

While this might be a realistic possibility on the Israeli side, it is very difficult to imagine the present US Administration willing to address the root causes of the on-going Middle East conflict. Peace needs vision, serious diplomacy, and real-politics, not ideologically entrenched grandiose notions of nation reengineering while contemplating the birth pangs of a new Middle East.