Are we doing enough for peace?

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Israeli Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin arri...

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Are we doing everything we can to achieve peace?
By Ray Hanania The peace process is very frustrating, when it exists. But when it collapses, it is painful, especially to those who believe the answer is so close.

Why can’t Palestinians and Israelis reach a peace accord. Not surprisingly, both sides blame each other and fault the other for the failure to reach an accord.

Not because I am Palestinian, I don’t agree. I think Israel has the power and the ability to make peace or break peace. The Palestinians have few comparable options. They can prevent peace but they can’t make peace happen.

In fairness to the Palestinians, they have turned away from armed resistance, despite the fiery words of some of Hamas‘ leadership. Hamas is in the throws of a division, those who reject the idea that Israel can compromise and those who believe that compromise is the only solution, moving parts of Hamas, at least politically, more towards the secular Palestine National Authority which views compromise as the only solution.

If there are Palestinians engaged in violence, there are Israelis involved in violence, too. Settlers, military and even segments of the government which embrace policies of extra-judicial executions.

There is very little many of us who support a two-state solution can do except watch the whole process crumble. And it is frustrating because while Israel’s government pays lots of attention to the few extremists and those engaged in some violence, they pay no attention to those who support peace.

I think that’s the real strategy of Israel’s government, to avoid peace at all costs. Why make peace when they basically have everything they want, including an environment where violence has been almost completely eliminated. They think that the Palestinians are in a box, punished by Israel when they do engage in violence and ignored by Israel when they don’t.

That Israeli view doesn’t help the moderate Palestinians to build their case at all. It in fact reinforces the premise that Israel will only act to take the peace process seriously when violence reaches unacceptable levels. Do we really want that to happen?

I believe Palestinians have been boxed in, partly because of their own divisions. Hamas spent the entire period of the Oslo Peace accords doing everything they could to torpedo the peace process, using suicide bombings and violence to undermine the Israeli faith in peace. Hamas received support from the extremists in the secular Palestinian movement, like the Jabha Shabiyya or Popular Front activists who reject peace with Israel not on the basis of religious faith but on the premise of unreasoned Marxist ideology.

The extremists represent the minority, but look more powerful because the constant failures feed emotions which make people look unreasonable and angry. Moderates, on the otherhand, are uninspiring because they have nothing to show for their moderation.

During the entire process of the Oslo Peace Accords, Israel continued to expand its settlements, I think knowing full well that the “facts on the ground” would one day become their convenient excuse to avoid a genuine peace.

Everything is stacked against the moderates, except one certainty. If there is no peace accord, the Palestinians will never have a state nor will they have peace. But then, the Israelis will never have peace or security, either. And that feeds the extremists who believe that if they can just keep the conflict going long enough, peace will eventually die a certain death and the only option will be a “lull” or a status quo that can erupt like a volcano at any time.

No great leader has stood up in Israel to declare a commitment to peace similar to the stand taken by Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister murdered by an Israeli extremist.

And without anything to show for all the years of failed peace, even courageous leaders like PNA President Mahmound Abbas have little to offer his people other than continued uncertainty in response to all of the many things the Palestinians have given to Israel: recognition, acceptance of two-states with Israel keeping all of the lands captured in 1948 and much of the lands captured in 1967.

Abbas has only one option to undercut the fanatics, and that is to take his final play to the United Nations where all of the problems in Palestine started and demand that the UN recognize a Palestine State.

Although the United States will certainly veto any such resolution in the Security Council, a super majority of the United Nations General Assembly could override the Security Council and recognize Palestine as a nation under occupation.

It might not bring peace, but it sure would call in Israel’s last card, asserting that the West Bank is not occupied and is instead “disputed.”

It’s not much. But, in today’s world of uncertainty, it might be all that Palestinians and peace can expect.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate. Reach him at rayhanania@comcast.net.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

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