Sunday, February 3, 2008

Resolving Gaza

Nothing has yet been accomplished to resolve the continuing outrage called Gaza. Whether it is:

1) the occasional ineffective but possibly lethal rocket fired by
Palestinians demanding that the world listen to their pleas for justice or

2) the barrage of Israeli military attacks or

3) the horrifyingly inhumane conditions in which Gaza residents live

4) simply their endless existence in what amounts to a jail,

last week’s events have so far not resolved anything.

Certainly historic events occurred that make a return to the past highly unlikely:
First, historic discussions between Hamas and Egypt occurred, were extended
to a second day, and a measure of Egyptian-Hamas joint action on the ground to
regulate the border has ensued.

Second, a Moslem Brotherhood delegation visited Gaza, with implications for
joint Palestinian-Egyptian political activism that are all too obvious to the
Egyptian dictatorship.

Third, Hamas bulldozed away the rigidity of the past, opening the doors to
compromise, should anyone else care to listen.

Nevertheless, the issue has already faded from Western media, and both sides are rapidly slipping back into old modes of behavior: military violence from both sides, refusal to talk without preconditions that should be the subject of any talks from Fatah. Aside from the moral issue of 1.5 million innocent victims being ignored, why should we care?

First, the half-century conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is made
much more difficult to solve as long as Palestine remains split between two
Palestinian groups also fighting with each other.
Whenever one tries to
compromise, that gives the other incentive to undercut the dialogue for
short-term political gain in the internal jockeying for the power to rule
Palestine. Palestinian politicians are no more immune to this disease than
Israeli or American politicians.

Second, failure to resolve the Gaza issue only raises the likelihood
that Egypt will be destabilized.
Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood are too
close--in terms of heritage, ideology, and geographic proximity--for the issue
of including Hamas in the international maneuvers over the future of Palestine
and the issue of including the Moslem Brotherhood in the Egyptian political
process to be kept apart. Whether the overthrow of the Egyptian dictatorship
would be good, as the first step toward democracy, or bad, as the first step
toward chaos and possibly an Islamic radical state, it would certainly be a
major shift in global affairs and fraught with danger.

Third, Palestinians are focused on Palestine, but the longer Washington
refuses them justice, the more they are likely to blame Washington.
With al
Qua’ida eagerly waiting in the wings to exploit any shift toward further
radicalism, a new burst of Palestinian terror against the West like the one a
generation ago is likely this time to be much worse.

If morality does not move us to address the plight of Gazans, then self-interest should. It is hard to call any presidential candidate who fails to acknowledge this a serious potential leader.

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