The Editors

One day President George W. Bush was denying a request from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for the U.S. administration to resume its active engagement in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. A few days later he was dispatching retired Marine General Anthony Zinni to try once again to broker a cease-fire, or at least, a diminution of the violence. Then late on March 12, the United States sponsored a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire and describing a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.

In the past, the United States has used its veto to stop any resolution referring to a Palestinian state. The willingness of the administration to sponsor such a resolution is a hopeful sign if it indicates readiness to join with the rest of the international community, particularly the Europeans, in working for peace and justice in the Middle East.

Peacemaking by the United States alone simply cannot succeed. The hatred and mistrust between the two sides has grown too deep for Israel’s ally, patron and protector to be a credible peacemaker. The moment of truth has arrived. Years of single-minded U.S. backing for Israel have corrupted American diplomatic capital in the Middle East. We have become the big brother who protects little brother while he taunts and tricks the other kids on the block. Rather than supplying little brother with more weapons, older brother has to admit that he is part of the problem and let the cop on the beat weigh in and separate the youngsters. The current enabling relationship needs an intervention.

Without new initiatives to present, the Zinni mission has little hope of achieving even its modest goals. The United States is bereft of new ideas for dealing with the region, and its alliance with Israel makes its pleas sound suspect to Palestinian ears. U.S.-made planes and helicopters mount attacks against Palestinian towns and cities. U.S.-manufactured munitions destroy Palestinian homes and public facilities. U.S. aid provides subsidies for the Israeli economy and military machine. With U.S. policy, like Israel’s, concerned mostly to put the brakes on Palestinian violence, the United States is in no position to be an honest broker between the two sides in a genuine peace process.

Both the Palestinian Authority and the European Union have repeatedly called for outside monitors to intervene. The governments of Israel and the United States have regularly opposed such proposals. Now, with the situation superheated, it is time to introduce international monitors and revitalize the international peace process begun in Madrid in 1991. The United States, of course, can be expected to block such a move with its veto in the U.N. Security Council. In the 1950’s, it was the Soviet Union’s veto that blocked concerted action by the Security Council. Eventually, the General Assembly bypassed the council and voted a police action in defense of South Korea against invasion by the North. Israel and the United States have ignored dozens of General Assembly resolutions on the Palestinian question. But such an initiative might force the United States to take a more even-handed role in peace negotiations, with a negotiator like former Secretary of State James Baker, who can be as tough on the Israelis as on the Palestinians.

Optimally, a peace initiative that, like the Madrid process, would involve the United States in concert with other leading nations and those with peacekeeping experiencelike the Canadians and Scandinavianshas a better chance to provide the basis for a just and durable peace than any effort by the United States alone.

By the same logic, moreover, any international initiative must offer the Palestinians more than a cease-fire and future negotiations. The truth is, there will be no peace for Israel if justice is delayed for the Palestinians. The Tenet and Mitchell proposals are deeply flawed in focusing on ending violence first and in giving attention primarily to Palestinian violenceto the neglect of the varieties of violence on the Israeli side. Even the Mitchell plan deals only with so-called new settlement activity, not with the illegality and injustice of the settlements as such. To think that what matters to Israelis calls for immediate acquiescence while what matters to Palestinians is subject to negotiation only compounds the injustice.

Tenet-Mitchell Plus must do five things: 1) hold Israel as accountable as the Palestinians, 2) acknowledge the illegality of the occupation and the settlements, 3) arrange an end of the settlements, 4) provide one-for-one exchanges of quality land for those few settlements that may be permitted to continue to survive under Israeli rule and 5) assure the early establishment of a viable Palestinian state with control of its own contiguous territory. Only such a plan, under U.N. auspices, acknowledges the injustice that lies beneath the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By addressing that injustice, it offers the possibility of assuaging the Palestinians’ sense of justice denied and could thus secure conditions for a durable peace between them and the Israeli people.

Comments

John J. MacDougall | 1/26/2007 - 3:39pm
After 50 years reading about and supporting our government’s generous policies toward Israel, I wonder now how or where it went so wrong. In the beginning, all liberals wanted to help secure Israel against super-powerful Arab enemies, and we succeeded. Somehow, this victory produced increasingly stubborn and irrational elements on both sides, and our own rigidly one-sided and unimaginative policies made our apparent efforts at peacemaking irrelevant.

In your editorial of March 25, your diagnosis of the problems now created by our unilateral style of policymaking and your policy suggestions were refreshingly realistic, creative and relevant. Thank you. I also thank John Kavanaugh, S.J., for his column “Military Madness,” for putting words to my growing anxieties over the increasingly irrational direction of our policies toward the entire world. He quietly and accurately criticizes our government’s new and frightening nuclear policies; its imperial, hegemonic style; the passivity of our media; the admirably loyal but overly unquestioning support of our people; and the threat by our government to use warmaking methods that threaten our moral values.

Thank you also for the informative and jolting article about Guatemala’s miseries. Your contributions are priceless, generous and brave.

Christian Rohmiller | 1/26/2007 - 3:42pm
Thank you for your balanced and constructive editorial, “Not the U.S. Alone” (3/25). I thought your analysis of the current crisis and how it has developed was accurate. New ideas are desperately needed to secure the legitimate rights and long-term security of both parties to this conflict, Israelis and Palestinians. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the five-point Tenet-Mitchell Plus formula you propose in the final paragraph and am recommending your editorial to my elected representatives in Congress. Your proposals concisely express the convictions of many people of good will. As an ordinary citizen, I (and I’m sure many government officials) feel powerless in the face of the current sickening carnage. I hope your call for new ideas and new partners will reach U.S. policymakers who are in a position to promote a just and lasting peace.

Miriam Ward, R.S.M. | 1/26/2007 - 3:41pm
Thank you for the superb editorial “Not the U.S. Alone” (3/25).

Enough killing: 400 Israelis and 1,247 Palestinians as of this writing. There is no parity between Israel’s mighty military machine and Palestinian resistance. Israel is the occupier, Palestinians the occupied. As Noam Chomsky says, “It is no more symmetric than Germany was in occupied France.” Yet the media continue to “blame the victim” in what is basically resistance to a colonialist power exercising brutality that reduces people to despairingly horrific acts of self-immolation to bring down as many of the powerful as possible.

Hundreds of Israeli armored vehicles and tanks push their way through crowded Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and into the heart of Bethlehem and Ramallah. F-16’s and Apache gunships overhead rain bombs and rockets on largely unarmed Palestinian civilians. While some Israeli soldiers round up Palestinian males 14 years or older, other soldiers rampage through what is left of homes after the tanks have rolled through, overturning food staples, messing up every inch of their home space while women, children and the elderly crouch in fear and terror. Nothing is immune from Israeli bombs: schools, hospitals, churches, residential areas, ambulances, medical relief workers.

Let there be no mistake. The brutal, inhumane Israeli military occupation is terror. And in the words of Jewish Israelis protesting the actions of their government, “The occupation is killing us all.” Check the Web site of the more than 350 Israeli reserve combat officers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories (www.seruv.org). Their words sum it up: “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”

And it is our American military and economic support of the occupation that should make us cry out, “Not in my name!”

David Bruning | 1/26/2007 - 3:38pm
Your editorial “Not the U.S. Alone” (3/25) hit the nail right on the head. Six years ago, I lived for three months at the border of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many of the things we only now hear about in our media, such as Israeli destruction of West Bank homes, have been going on for years with barely a whimper of a reprimand from the U.S. government.

When Ariel Sharon came into office, he did so with the intention of provoking war with the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, Yasir Arafat has been an all too willing accomplice in the march toward all-out war in the region. When I was there, most of the people on both sides wanted peace. Now I’m not so sure, since the situation is so polarized.

The United States is hardly an honest broker in this process. Unless someone like a James Baker can hold the Israelis’ feet to the fire on the settlement issue, efforts toward peace will go nowhere.

Christian Rohmiller | 4/2/2002 - 11:44am
Thank you for your balanced and constructive editorial. I thought your analysis of the current crisis and how it has developed was accurate. New ideas are deperately needed to secure the legitimate rights and long term security of both parties to this conflict, Israelis and Palestinians. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the five point Tenet-Mitchell Plus formula you propose in the final paragraph, and am recommending your editorial to my elected representatives in Congress. Your proposals concisely express the convictions of many people of good will. As an ordinary citizen, I (and I'm sure many government officials) feel powerless in the face of the current sickening carnage. Hopefully, your call for new ideas and new partners will reach U. S. policy makers who are in a position to promote a just and lasting peace.

Christian Rohmiller | 4/2/2002 - 11:44am
Thank you for your balanced and constructive editorial. I thought your analysis of the current crisis and how it has developed was accurate. New ideas are deperately needed to secure the legitimate rights and long term security of both parties to this conflict, Israelis and Palestinians. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the five point Tenet-Mitchell Plus formula you propose in the final paragraph, and am recommending your editorial to my elected representatives in Congress. Your proposals concisely express the convictions of many people of good will. As an ordinary citizen, I (and I'm sure many government officials) feel powerless in the face of the current sickening carnage. Hopefully, your call for new ideas and new partners will reach U. S. policy makers who are in a position to promote a just and lasting peace.

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