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"Hope Must Follow War"
The Ventura County Star Commentary, April 21, 2002

By Terry Paulson, PhD

The loss of life on both sides in the Middle East is an ongoing tragedy, but allowing a return to an unworkable truce with leaders who do not trust each other will not bring progress. As far as I am concerned, the "peace at all cost" approach is giving peace a bad name. But there could be more than chaos, fighting and revenge coming out of the region. In fact, there may be an opportunity for a radical turning point that is within our grasp if world leaders and Ariel Sharon can find the vision and resolve to grasp it. It is possible that out of this crisis could come the motivation to try a major shift in approach to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Things will not change quickly. Israel, with growing support from its citizens, is sustaining it's fight for survival in the West Bank in an effort to neutralize and destroy terrorist forces and supply networks. No matter how much pressure President Bush and his administration publicly proclaim, Israel appears to have no desire to end their military action until their immediate mission is accomplished. With world opinion and Presidential pressure focusing their attention on Israel, Arafat appears to have no intention of doing anything to stop terrorism as witnessed by today's renewed suicide bombing attack.

The strong position taken by President Bush and Secretary of Sate Powell to balance criticism of both Arafat and Sharon allows the US to maintain a neutral broker position. It also helps moderate Arab states to calm their more militant citizens and blunt the rage against the US in the region. It is in this period of waiting that lies an opportunity for a new beginning for a truly lasting peace.

Most Americans are united in their support of a strong military that we are ready to use when needed, but we balance that with an ongoing commitment to use effective diplomacy in building positive coalitions for peace. President Bush has used that model effectively in Afghanistan. Such an approach is sorely needed in Israel's response to Palestine.

Unfortunately, no matter how successful Israel is in using its military strength, peace will remain illusive unless it learns to balance how it wages war with how it makes peace. Israel would do well to learn from America's successful pattern of balancing conquest with long-term support. The best thing that could ever happen to an American enemy is to lose. Japan and Germany were defeated and then developed back into economic powers with America's help. America never wanted to use its power to create an empire. If Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were to use that model it might make a difference. How would such a strategy look? Let me humbly share one citizen's opinion:

1. Sharon should work with world leaders to build a positive vision of what the end result can be for all involved. He should tell the world over and over again that Israel's dream is to live in peace with a responsible Palestinian government. Sharon should point to the constructive relationships with Egypt and Jordan. The Sinai land given up in the negotiations with Egypt shows how earned trust can bring responsible peace to the Middle East. He should tell Palestinians and the world, that Israel will work to make this happen again in Palestine. Sharon to this point has not affirmed this as strongly as he could. Powell could push for such a statement in his negotiations.

2. In spite of the temptation, Israel should avoid America's involvement in any direct way in the conflict. Reaffirm that Israel has the strength and the will to take care of its own war against terrorism. America is more valuable to Israel as an unbiased broker who is willing to support a war against terrorism while eager to find a sustainable pathway to a positive, peaceful vision of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation.

3. While sustaining the military action, Sharon should make it clear that there will be no negotiation with Arafat. Share all proof of Arafat's terrorist connections, and then take a strong stand against negotiating with Arafat or any leaders with proven ties to terrorists. Sharon should, however, agree to work with the US, the UN, and responsible Arab states to develop and support a responsible Palestinian government modeled after what is being done in Afghanistan. Challenge the world to rally the responsible Palestinians to join Jordan and Egypt by creating a Palestinian State ready to work peacefully with Israel to promote economic progress, cooperation and peace. America had no intentions of negotiating with the Taliban; Israel should not be forced to negotiate with any government that supports Palestinian terrorists.

4. Israel should stay in the West Bank until order is established and the Palestinian terrorists are neutralized, captured, or pushed out of the country. An early pullout, no matter how popular to the world's media, would only result in terrorists racing back to fill the void left by Arafat's fall from power. We cannot leave Afghanistan until it's new government is stable. The same may be true for Israel. The police function could gradually be taken over by UN forces including forces from Nato, Egypt and Jordan. It would be critical to create moderate Arab involvement in establishing order.

5. Once a responsible Palestinian government is established, work with them to create their own Palestinian buffer zone and check points to minimize the demonstrations that create major flash points for violence and confrontations. Keep challenging the responsible Arab citizens to take back their country for peace. Again, Bush and Powell could challenge Jordan and Egypt to join in this process.

6. Work with responsible Palestinian citizens and moderate Arab states in cooperation with the UN to bring in teachers and school books that promote peaceful coexistence in the Middle East instead of glorifying suicide bombings and the destruction of Israel.

7. Finally, and most importantly, Israel must work with equal passion as they fight to create a viable and independent Palestinian State committed to partnering with Israel for peace and prosperity in the region. Much as America saw a rebuilt and revitalized Germany and Japan, Israel must create a vision for the future that includes a vibrant and free Palestine.

No matter what Israel does, it is important for Americans to affirm the positive use of power against terrorism. Our Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said something we all know is true: "History teaches us that weakness is provocative." But using force is not enough. Hopefully, Israel will learn what America has learned, helping the vanquished to build a new land built on economic opportunity and responsible world citizenship is the only way to lasting peace and a new beginning for the Middle East and the world.


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