Ray Hanania’s Column
President Bush and his administration are directly responsible for creating an atmosphere that has encouraged the extremists to pursue violence as a means of not only destroying Israel, but destroying the Palestinian drive for peace, too.
The most recent violence that has followed in the wake of Vice President Cheney’s recent trip to the Middle East is a direct result of the highhanded, arrogant and one-sided policies that President Bush has pursued.
Bush is not an arbiter nor someone who is incapable of bringing peace back the Middle East. He is incapable of ending the violence that began with his assumption to the presidency.
Cheney’s refusal to meet with Arafat while in Israel was a signal to the extremists that they have the upper hand in determining the future of the Middle East. Cheney’s pursuit of his one-sided anti-Arab policies is a signal to those in the Middle East who wish not only for the destruction of Israel, but also to undermine any remnant that remains of the Palestinian movement to compromise with Israel.
Short-term, the inexperienced Bush leadership and the right wing militant Israeli Government of Ariel Sharon, see a venue through which they can extricate Palestine National Authority President Yasir Arafat, the only Palestinian leader ever to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The extremists realize that Bush is loud with moral rhetoric but short on fairness and promise. He is also lacking in the skills needed to bring the Middle East conflict to an end.
At least the pressures of the fanatics in the Middle East has caused the Arab governments to move from their basically impotent stands as Israel continues to desecrate Muslim and Christian holy sites and cities.
Cheney began his trip to the Middle East naively believing — or hoping to make it so — that the Arab governments did not see a link between the Bush goal to undermine Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, a purely personal vendetta being pursued by Bush who is hoping to do his father’s memory a favor.
But, Cheney ended his trip acknowledging that the Arab governments are consumed with Israel’s military provocation’s of the Palestinians and Israeli military policies that have raised the ranks of fanatics in the Arab World to new heights. He acknowledged that these Arab Governments are pre-occupied with the ongoing crisis in Palestine and are incapable of supporting the United States in its unilaterally driven campaign to target all of the former president Bush’s Middle East enemies.
Cheney now says he will consider meeting with Arafat, but only with severe restrictions on Arafat. Arafat has been ordered that he may not say anything that is critical of Israel, an obnoxious limitation that Arafat must ignore.
Rather than return to Ramallah where he is a captive, Arafat should remain outside of the territories and abandon any campaign to compromise with Israel.
He should instead allow the fanatics their time to reek havoc on Israel and bring the Israeli’s to their moral knees in the face of the worst violence to hit the Israelis in a generation. The fact is the Israelis have no reason to make peace with the Palestinians today. Backed by the naéve and inexperienced leadership of the Bush administration, Israel has implemented policies that have encouraged violence to allow them to enter Palestinian occupied lands with military force, and to murder innocent civilians without an outcry from the World.
The Israelis see that the Arab Governments fear losing their financial links to the West, and lack the will to stand up to Israel’s state-run terrorism.
Cheney’s trip is a dismal failure. The policies of the Bush administration have helped widen the gap between the basic desires of the Palestinians and the Israelis to arrive at a difficult but achievable peace that recognizes Israel and establishes a Palestinian state.
Nothing the President can do will stop the violence. His actions only feed the fanatics who are willing to die as martyrs striking at the heart of Israel’s state-run terrorism against Palestinian civilians. They would rather die with that kind of dignity than to allow the Nazi-like government policies of the Government of Ariel Sharon to carry them to their grave.
Peace is possible only if the United States finds the moral courage to stand up and impose a peace, not on the Palestinians, but on the Israeli Government which is the true source of terrorism and violence in Palestine.
Short of that, Israel faces generations of violence that will not end. And the United States will have stirred the pot of emotion so terribly through inexperienced and foolish leadership under President Bush that the ability to unravel this latest carnage becomes nearly impossible.
The Palestinians have a right to resist Israel’s military attacks. They do not have a right to strike out at civilian targets through suicide attacks.
But as long as Israel’s fanatic government is allowed to continue its own policies of violence and terrorism, the extremists in the Palestinian circles will continue with their own.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)