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Olmert reopens door to peace Abbas should not miss
By Ray Hanania — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert re-opened the door to a peace accord with the Palestinians and was immediately attacked by extremists in his government. But he was also attacked by extremists leading the illegal government in the Gaza Strip, which has been re-occupied by Hamas extremists. To make this summit succeed, the Palestinians must respond not with skepticism, but positive ideas.
Olmert will, reportedly, propose sharing Arab East Jerusalem, a city lost to Israel when Jordan’s military collapsed along with the incompetent armies of Egypt and Syria in a confrontation with Israeli forces that the Arabs provoked and Israel exploited in June 1967.
The proposal will be made at an upcoming peace conference that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to attend.
Abbas has come under a barrage of renewed attacks from pro-Hamas activists both in the Gaza Strip and from Arab and Palestinian “journalists” in the West who oppose compromise with Israel but have long ago compromised their journalistic principles to become advocates for extremists.
Olmert was excoriated in a tirade by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who helped kill Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in the 1990s denying both Palestinians and Israelis the peace most seek.
It was one of Netanyahu’s Likud followers who was convicted of murdering Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, that sealed the death sentence of the peace process that was already mortally wounded by a series of Hamas terrorist suicide bombings that intentionally targeted innocent Israeli civilians and children.
Once again, Palestinians are faced with a difficult choice. Do they continue to embrace 60-year old principles and demand the impossible to return the land to the pre-1948 years?
Or, do they wake up and recognize that their only real chance for peace and a Palestinian State is to accept their own failures. The brutal truth is that Israel’s existence, that Palestinians reject, has as much to do with their own failed policies and their own extremist acts as it does with Israel’s policies.
More importantly, are Palestinians finally willing to stop lying to the Palestinian refugees and to their descendants? Acknowledge the truth that even though the Palestinians may have a legal right to return to their lands taken in 1948 under international law, 60 years of continued conflict and failed Arab leadership have made enforcement of that dream unrealistic.
Should we not admit to the refugees that policies of rejection built on exploiting their suffering have failed, and that the only option is to now accept the inevitable that the most we can expect from Israel is an apology, the return of some refugees through negotiations, compensation, and resettlement in a Palestinian State?
Isn’t the reality of living their lives in a Palestinian State greater than the unrealistic dream of turning back the clock to a time when the Arab leadership was no better than it is today?
Is it worth it to remain in the squalor and festering hatred of the refugee camps, driven on by extremists who are transforming before our very eyes from secular ideologues who have considered compromise to religious fanatics whose only choice is continued sacrifice, suicide terror and self-imposed oppression?
Most Palestinians are moderates who fear the violent threats from groups like Hamas and other extremists who would just as soon murder a Palestinian as easily they would any Jew.
But we cannot allow those fanatics to control our lives. Their policies have pushed us to where we are. If we live in Buntastans, we helped create them through rejection and an absence of strategic policies of national salvation.
Abbas should immediately embrace Olmert’s proposals, and send a clear message that he supports compromise based on negotiations and is dedicated to eradicating the extremists like the Hamas terrorists.
Let the negotiations begin. Maybe, just maybe Abbas can use the leverage given to him by the expulsion of the illegitimate and oppressive Hamas “government” from the Palestine National Authority.
Let Abbas define a true compromise that will stop the slow but steady erasure of Palestinian identity, a Palestinian nation that is being swallowed up by a land expansionism driven by Israeli extremists who exploit Palestinian rejectionism, and the transformation of a secular Democratic Palestinian people into an oppressive religious fanaticism.
Although the negotiations may not bring about a truly fair division of Palestine and Israel, long term peace will help counter-balance the sacrifices Palestinians have made since 1948.
Two states will exist side-by-side, and they will share Jerusalem. And one day, Jews will be able to live and work in Palestine, and Christians and Muslims will be able to live and work in Israel.
That is a dream worth fighting for.
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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