Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Unacceptable Attitude toward Violence and the Pursuit of World Peace

“I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.” John F Kennedy, June 10, 1963

My expectation is that Barack Obama would renew this call of JFK for world peace. However, I am disappointed in Obama. His inexplicable silence on Israel’s unacceptable, despicable attacks against Hamas and the Palestinian people is remarkable. His statement, “… if somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing" -- well Barack, how about not just crude rockets, but how about IDF F-16’s, or an armored column of Merkava tanks coming at your house where your two daughters sleep, too. Having nothing to say in light of this new outbreak of violence indicates to me that it might mean that he is complicit with the Bush Administration’s and America’s historical support and view of Israel’s action. The president-elect spoke out after last month's attacks in Mumbai, and has made detailed statements on the US economic crisis, but not a word from Obama on the Israeli-Hamas violence, how come? I question now if he will in all cases pursue peaceful, non-violent outcomes as President of the United States.

I certainly do not expect Israel to do nothing, nor do I expect the Palestinian Authority represented by Hamas to do nothing, either. I would not tolerate rockets fired at my home, neighborhood or country, but there are acceptable responses and there are those responses that are unacceptable and out of proportion.

In view that there has not been one nation who has engaged seriously, and in a continuous way, in a peace process, no willingness by either side or any nation for diplomacy, to discuss or negotiate, which leaves neither Israel nor Hamas a peaceful alternative. However, Israel, in this instance, does have a response that is proportionate to rockets fired at them—rockets, by the way, that have limited range capability. In order to limit casualties, they could have seized the territory from which the rockets are launched. The Israeli’s have the ways and means of isolating the Gaza strip, too; they have the capability of providing a barrier between them and Gaza, beyond the range of those rockets. The Israeli’s do have a way of making a proportionate, measured and appropriate response.

Gaza’s land mass is 139 sq. miles while Israel’s is 8,019 sq. miles. Israel has a well-trained military; they have a Navy, an Air force, modern up-to-date military assets and munitions, while Hamas has crude – some rockets are homemade -- and limited weaponry in comparison. Gaza is densely populated, its 1.5 million resident’s area already experiencing shortages in medicine, power and basic supplies due to 18 months of an Israeli blockade. There is no ethical reason why a proportionate Israeli response could not have been taken.

It is clear and understandable that Israelis and Palestinians will never reach an accommodation on their own. There are not only moral but political dimensions to this crisis, as well. For there to be peace between Israel and the Palestine people, Arabs, and its neighbors, the kind of peace to which Kennedy refers, there needs to be an unbiased arbiter.

Bush had eight years in which to carry out continued diplomacy, to discuss or negotiate, but ignorance abounds and the profound truth underpinning diplomacy, discussion and negotiation has not been perceived. Bush did not have the willingness to pursue negotiation The United States has not passionately pursued peaceful outcomes, and has not engaged seriously in any peace process.

Israel and a future Palestinian state equally have a fundamental right of sovereignty

Both sides must be condemned for the violence. The only support anyone should give is not to Israel or Hamas, but to peace. This is the message I would expect from president-elect Obama and America.

Peace is a forward looking continuous process that should have persisted in our past and must be initiated now and continued into eternity. It must be our fundamental passion. The process must not have hiatuses, there must be continuity. The process embraces diplomacy, discussion and negotiation. All nations must engage their friends and enemies in perpetuating unconditional discussions.

First, our world’s nations need to recognize all people as human beings. They must be concerned for the suffering of all people no matter what the causes or reasons. World peace cannot be contemplated if this very basic human concern is not embraced.

Second, we must examine our attitude towards peace; examine our attitude towards other nations and to one another. For as JFK said, “No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue”; among the many traits that people have in common, "none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war.”

Brent Scowcroft believes that for progress to be made in the Middle East, the United States must talk to Hamas. I agree, and I would expect Barack Obama to agree, also; but apparently he does not.

Scowcroft said, "I think we should be open to negotiate with anybody. It's much harder to solve problems if you don't talk to people, and you don't necessarily solve problems by talking to them. But at least you open up the avenues; you understand what the hard sticking points are and how to resolve some. And you see if there is a chance for progress and if so, what kind."

“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights: the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation; the right to breathe air as nature provided it; the right of future generations to a healthy existence?” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

And is that not only a right for Israel, but for Hamas and the Palestinians as well.

We need world leaders like John Fitzgerald Kennedy with a passion for peace, and leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev who said, “This is our common goal [world peace], and it is only by acting together that we may attain it." Gorbachev's model for Obama by James कार्रोल्ल

Relative story: Gaza Conflict May Affect Obama Peacekeeping Vow; As Violence In Gaza Worsens, What Can Obama Do?

by Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius