قدر العظماء أن يمضوا شهداء
«الطائف» و«الاتفاق الثلاثي»
لا يمكن الحديث عن تهميش الدور المسيحي في لبنان دون ذكر اتفاق الطائف الذي شلح المسيحيين الدور والموقع والصلاحيات الى دون مستوى الشراكة الحقيقية.
The International Criminal Court's Obligations Today.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.
1) United States must negotiate peace with the countries in the Middle East, especially Iran and Syria. Not only would this give the United States leverage to convince these groups to put a halt to covert funding of groups behind suicide bombings. But it sometimes seems as if these groups are funded solely because they attack Israel, ally of the United States. Regarding many of the groups behind the suicide bombings, Arafat really has little or no control over those organizations, and yet the suicide bombings must stop if peace is to be achieved. What follows is a brief overview of the main groups :
a. Hamas or Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya), a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (an Islamist group founded in Egypt as a response to Nasser's secular pan-Arabism), has the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state. Hamas does not accept Arafat's leadership, in part because he is a secular leader, and in part due to a schism relating to the peace process. Hamas is the second most powerful Palestinian group, after Arafat's Fatah party, and it is possible that the leadership of Palestine could fall to a member of this group if a chain of succession is not set up within Fatah.
b. Hizbollah (Party of God), this shi'ite Resistance group operating from Lebanon, was originally funded by Iran, with logistical help from Syria. Hizbollah was originally created in response to the Lebanese civil war, and still received a great deal of funding and leadership from Iran. They also desire a change from feudal sectarian system, to a stable Republic .
c. Islamic Jihad (al-Jihad) has the stated goal of the overthrow Israel as well as secular Arab governments. Islamic Jihad receives support and support from Iran as well as other Arab countries.
d. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is an unofficial wing of Arafat's Fatah group, and was created after the last Intifada in response to the success of Hamas and Hezbollah. What is so unusual about this group is that they are secular when compared to the other groups, with their goal being a Palestinian, but not an Islamic, state. The secularism of this group, as well as they fact that they are the only group with female bombers, brings a new dimension to the suicide bombings, and says something about the situation; the movement is not only religious but is in some quarters wholly political.
Yasser Arafat has little or no control of the majority of these groups, and so Sharon's constant demands that Arafat to put a halt to the bombings will accomplish nothing, because Arafat does not, and can not control most of these groups, and in most cases the peace agenda is contradictory to the goals of the military wings of these groups. The only way to put a halt to these radical groups is to cut off their international funding and support, and the only way to accomplish that is to make peace with the countries that sponsor those groups. (This is all in addition to the fact that the United States needs to pull its head out of the international political sand and realize that we cannot have things our way, with brutal murders and assassinations of everyone who does not accept our Dictates all the time. We are a super power not a recalcitrant two year old.)
2) Jerusalem should be under the control of the United Nations, for several years until it is able to take control, as an independent city, somewhat akin to Vatican City. There will never be peace in the Middle East until the issue of Jerusalem is resolved. United Nations control of an independent Jerusalem would be required for several years to keep the peace. During this time, illegal Jewish building projects in Arab areas must be halted, and control given back to Palestinians in the Arab portions of the city. After such a time as it would take for tempers to cool and saner heads prevail, a council, similar to what has been used before, would rule the city, populated by members of all three faiths, perhaps 40% Muslim, 40% Jewish and 10% Christian. Although it would be more democratic to the set the control along population percentages, such a solution that might allow either the Jews or the Muslims control would simply not work, at least until relations have dramatically improved between those groups, because much like the situation regarding the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the various Christian sects, one group can not be trusted to treat the others fairly.
3) Israeli withdrawal to United Nations sanctioned borders. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242:
Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
This would require a withdrawal from the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza. Jerusalem, as previous mentioned, would be under international control. There is also a probable need for international troops to remain along these borders until tensions have cooled to a significant degree.
4) Major modification of the Right of Return versus the Law of Return. The Law of Return grants every Jew the right to go to Israel as an oleh (Jewish immigrant), and the Israel Nationality Law automatically confers Israeli nationality on every oleh upon entering the country unless he specifies otherwise. The law even provides that a Jew who expresses his desire to settle in Israel may be granted nationality by virtue of the Law of Return even before he physically immigrates. From the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00kp0). Contrasted with this, Palestinians who fled areas of fighting, or had the lands taken by force by the Israeli government, are forbidden to return to their lands and have yet to receive compensation for the loss of their lands. In addition, many Arabs who remain in Israel fear that if they leave they will also be unable to return, and may also suffer the loss of their homes and lands. The Right of Return, or at the very least compensation, must be given those Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes.
5) Major modification of water rights. One Israeli kibbutz uses as much water as forty average sized Palestinian villages. Palestinians collect rain for their drinking water, while Israelis have swimming pools and green lawns. (http://www.loe.org/series/troubled.htm) Such an unequal allocation of water resources is untenable. No country can grow without fresh water resources, and access to clean water is a basic human requirement. It is impossible to achieve a modern state without education, it is impossible to achieve education without health, and it is impossible to achieve health without clean drinking water. This basic right, to clean water, stands in the way of peace and prosperity in the Middle East. I believe that the Palestinian population will remain in poverty, ill health, and susceptible to the messages of radical groups until the issue of water rights and access is resolved.
6) Arafat and Sharon should both be brought before a war crimes tribunal for their actions starting with Lebanon and moving forward to the current Intifada. Allowing these two to escape retribution only furthers hostility, and sends a message to the international community that the ends do justify the means.
"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love on another."
To be honest, I am not sure that even those drastic measures would work, and I am pretty sure that the United States has little interest in either making peace with any members of the “Axis of Evil” or in partaking in an international presence along an Israeli-Palestinian border, and I fear that without United States and international involvement and intervention, any peace process will be doomed to failure from the start.
I was listening to the news over the weekend, and they were interviewing some of the business owners in Ramallah who are finally able to return to their stores after the curfew and siege were lifted, only to discover that everything was looted or destroyed, ostensibly by the Israeli soldiers. One gentleman, the owner of a cyber café and computer store, said that there was not a single piece of equipment left whole, that everything he owned had been destroyed, and he was now completely bankrupt. What I found most disturbing about the interview was that the gentleman, quite obviously educated and savvy, said that he now clearly understood what motivated the suicide bombers.
Looking at Ramallah and Jaffa and other such areas of contention, it is clear that Israel, instead of solving problems, is only creating more hatred and fueling the radicals, a situation that is counter to every peace goal they claim they are attempting to make. Changes must be made, both by the Israel and Palestinian governments and in the attitudes of the Israeli and Palestinian people is the situation is to be resolved.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
History Will Teach Us Nothing
I think that what disturbs me most about the constant warfare and violence, is that not only are two groups that coexisted peacefully for centuries now bitter enemies, but that it seems that the Israelis, the very people who had struggled for so many years to overcome racism and hatred and segregation, are now using these tools of hatred to subjugate another population, just as they were subjugated throughout Europe and much of the world.
And now, for something completely different….
Regarding the angel guarding the Garden of Eden:
"And the Lord said unto the angel, 'Where is the flaming sword that I gave unto thee?' And the angel answered, saying, 'I had it here a minute ago, can't think what's become of it, be forgetting my own head next'. And the Lord did not ask him again."
--Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in Good Omens .