Niagara Gazette

December 1, 2013

SINGER: The mirage of Mideast peace

By B.B. Singer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A tiny news item a little while back indicated that “Al-Qaida-linked militants” proudly claimed ownership of rockets they’d shot into northern Israel from southern Lebanon. Not much damage thankfully ensued, though apparently one rocket just missed a retirement home for Holocaust survivors.

I wondered if that was the home founded by a Christian group I see now and then on TV. The page has so turned that American Christians are now among Israel’s deepest and most protective friends, and anyone who splits hairs about such support is behind the times.

More to the point, the group involved, Ziad al-Jarrah Battalion, was proudly named for a Lebanese-Arab hijacker involved in the ghastly September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Does that sound strange? Does it sound equally strange that at the time of the 9/11 tragedy, Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank area initially shouted out approval, until hushed up by their then-leader, Yassir Arafat?

After all, it wouldn’t do to show a true face to the same America which, yet again, feels it must kick start a “peace process” between Israel, which must “risk” for peace, and Palestinians, offering nothing Israel can count on in return.

This was amply seen with President Clinton’s hopeful initiative of the ‘90s eventuating in the Oslo Accords and the hand-over of Biblical places like Jericho or Hebron to Palestinian “security.” What followed was a terrible rash of suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv — the same metal-filled devices wrecking legs and lives galore as in Iraq (Arab on Arab) or Boston. Finally, around 2002, after a series of crippling attacks, Israel took matters into its own hands and began building a fence to wall off these attackers.

But of course rockets have subsequently poured in from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and after Israel voluntarily surrendered Gaza to the South, from the dictatorial group controlling that area, Hamas. Neither can be discounted in any potential “peace” agreement.

I have a good friend who says the first alternative in any quandary is to do nothing. Regarding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations so prized by Kerry et al., he seems correct.

Because Palestinians are linked to other militants in different Middle Eastern countries replete with internecine strife, and anything but stable. Syria’s government has used nerve gas to kill children; Iraqis suicide bomb right and left to murder their own; Saudi authorities stone women to death or cut off hands on flimsy grounds, and so forth. Why think Palestinians would be significantly different if they scented weakness? What Israel needs is to be strong (the co-developed Iron Dome anti-rocket system one example), and to have a relatively stable Egypt re-emerge on one border, as seems to be painfully occurring; on others, they need resolution to the searing problems in Syria and Lebanon, and for Jordan to remain roughly as is.

Neither Israel nor an America it has so helped with intelligence, and whom it supports unreservedly, needs a made-in-the office solution that works only on paper, and which doesn’t take into account the country’s vulnerability in that part of the world. Sometimes historical change is like unforeseen science — you remove one bad chemical from the air, then create some new chemical reaction that’s worse, not better. For instance, America laudably stayed the course against Japanese expansionism in World War II; but dissolution of that empire then allowed China to go Communist, liberated Korea to become the problem it did, and Vietnam (returned to an uncertain French grip) eventually to launch a Viet Cong, etc. Few in the States during a euphoric September ‘45 could imagine a drawn-out Korean or Vietnam war on the horizon.

But by the same token, one can learn to see ahead, and would-be American peace-makers need to realize that removing even more Israeli security guarantees against nothing bankable in return can make the situation there go from proverbial frying pan into the fire. (Which partly thanks to U.S. policies, already happened in a Shah-removed Iran and more recently, after Egypt’s Mubarak was turfed out.) Israeli-Palestinian “peace”? Much easier to transform parts of the Robert Moses Parkway so everyone’s happy!

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.