Monday, October 22 , 2018, 7:27 pm | Partly Cloudy with Haze 62º

 
 
 

Robert Scheer: Mideast Overshadows Obama’s Prospects

The president-elect's challenge will be to turn his mantra of change into a practical roadmap for Mideast peace.

So why didn’t they give peace a chance? Why did the leaders of Hamas and Israel not wait for the new U.S. president’s inauguration before mutually escalating hostilities? Here was a president-elect chosen, in part, on the expectation that he could enhance prospects for Mideast peace, even if it meant negotiating with people thought to be enemies.

Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer
Why not give that approach an opportunity to succeed regarding the future of Palestine? Why not see if Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose husband had been more successful than any other president in advancing the prospects for peace in the Mideast, could have accomplished more than the lame-duck secretary of state she soon will replace?

The question answers itself.

Unfortunately, neither Hamas’ nor Israel’s leadership believes that a meaningful peace of the sort all U.S. presidents have endorsed is in their interest. That peace stipulates two independent and viable national entities, one Israeli and the other Palestinian. Clearly, Hamas and its hard-line supporters in the region reject the goal of an Israel at peace with its neighbors and secure within its boundaries, even if those borderlines return to those existing in 1967 at the time of the Six-Day War.

Further, Islamic nations in the region obviously don’t want a secure Palestine, as some support only the most radical of Palestinian movements, and the oil-wealthy regimes, while eagerly throwing money at Wall Street, refuse to invest in any serious way in the Palestinian economy.

What is less obvious, particularly to Israel’s many knee-jerk supporters in the United States, is that the dominant politicians in Israel of all parties just as consistently reject the goal of a meaningful two-nation solution, if by that is meant a vibrant and truly independent Palestinian state. This last sentence represents heresy to those many who insist, as an article of faith and despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that Israel has never wanted anything but to live in peace with its neighbors.

That view is colonialist propaganda, pure and simple. I first heard it while reporting from Gaza and the West Bank in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, brought on by Egypt and Jordan, who were then the occupiers of what remained of Palestine. Maybe Israel’s leaders, most prominently the conquering war hero Moshe Dayan, meant it when they claimed that they had no desire to permanently occupy this land. After all, they were mostly secular Labor Party Zionists, who shunned any notion of a divine mandate to remain in control of the Promised Land.

Whatever their original intentions, the occupation created its own logic of suppression, first breeding discontent and then rebellion. It doesn’t matter whether that rebellion takes the form of stone-throwing or rocket-launching, the Israeli response will always be wildly disproportionate, further damning the prospect for rational solutions. And uncritically underwriting that disproportionate Israeli response to any and all dissent will be the United States, the supplier of those F-16s doing so much damage in Gaza today.

But most U.S. presidents, with the possible exception of George W. Bush, came to view the blank check for Israel as a loser’s game. The madness at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been widely acknowledged as the prime source of a much greater madness now codified as terrorism. And even Bush, as represented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recently has been forced by that reality to put pursuing a meaningful peace back on the agenda.

The fact that settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is central to international stability ends up informing U.S. policy, much to the chagrin of the region’s hardliners on both sides. Throw in the prospect of a new U.S. president, who has put the waging of peace into the conversation, and it is understandable why that would threaten many in the Mideast who are wedded to the old ways of doing business. It is why Jimmy Carter, as an ex-president, has worked so courageously to confront that deadly dynamic.

President-elect Barack Obama‘s challenge will be to turn his mantra of change into a practical roadmap for Mideast peace, a prospect made much more elusive by the Israeli blitzkrieg. If he fails to do that and simply panders to those who have grown comfortable with this disastrous status quo, he will seriously undermine the prospects for his administration. With our severe economic problems, the last thing we need is increased Mideast instability, driving up U.S. military expenditures and the price of oil.

TruthDig.com editor in chief Robert Scheer‘s new book is The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. Click here for more information. He can be reached at [email protected]

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.