Seeking peace

I am often saddened and frustrated when well-meaning and decent people write or verbalize how Israel and the U.S. missed an opportunity to reach an agreement with the Palestinians which would result in peace. To miss an opportunity for peace, one must attribute to Israel and the U.S. a desire to have peace. Yet when we examine the behavior, not the words of these two countries, one has to wonder if that is truly their goal.

In 2006, after winning the election in Gaza, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. Under the leadership of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas let it be known that it was seeking a unity government with the Fatah faction overseen by Mahmoud Abbas. In fact, after their victory, Hamas was showing signs of moving to the political center despite its militant history.

Unfortunately, the U.S., the European Union, and Israel refused to recognize Hamas because they had been labeled a “terrorist organization.” Economic aid was suspended and Israel took it upon themselves to cut back on the amount of goods they allowed in and out of Gaza.

As has been the case many times, the U.S. supports free democratic elections unless the results of such elections does not fit in with U.S. goals.

Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s newly elected leader, offered Israel and the U.S. an olive branch in a letter delivered to the Bush administration. In the letter, he states, “We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years.” In other words, Haniyeh was agreeing to two of the key demands that the U.S. and Israel made clear had to be part of any agreement.

Guess what the response was from the two great allies and seekers of peace. It was ignored.

One could say they missed an opportunity or one could say there must have been panic in Israel and the U.S. regarding this offering by Hamas. The last thing Israel wants is peace as long as there are Palestinians taking up space in the “Holy Land.” They have successfully avoided serious peace negotiations for many years by expanding settlements and provoking violent confrontations with the Palestinians and then claiming terrorism is making peace unattainable.

Sandy Tolan’s article in TomDispatch illustrates my point.

“This U.S.-Israeli military-industrial alliance has provided little incentive to explore peaceful or diplomatic alternatives. In 2007, Hamas and Fatah again discussed forming a unity government. The U.S. responded with heavy pressure on Mahmoud Abbas. American officials, through Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had already been facilitating military training and arms shipments to his Fatah faction in Gaza. They wanted to bolster its capabilities against Hamas, allowing the U.S.’s favored Fatah leader in Gaza, strongman Mahmoud Dahlan, to take control.”

Any attempt by Hamas, in subsequent years, to form a unity government with Fatah has been sabotaged by Israel/U.S. strategies. To look at Israel’s history, one should have difficulty maintaining the notion that they are seeking peace. Instead, as a Jewish state, they must explore means of evacuating Palestinians from the area.

What does the U.S. gain in its relationship with Israel? Israel is the only westernized country in that area, with a Western life-style and values and serve as the eyes and ears of the U.S. On many occasions, they serve as our “boots on the ground.” It is known that the CIA and NSA often exchange and share intelligence information with Mossad. In other words, Israel is like an extension of U.S. influence in that part of the world which happens to be rich in oil and gas resources. In return, the U.S. offers billions of dollars in armaments and protects Israel from the UN.

Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.

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