Amateur diplomacy in the Middle East

There has been an escalation in hostilities between Israel and Gaza over the past week.    Every night I hear the explosions (last night I thought I felt one) and I think about the many Palestinians I’ve met over the past 7 weeks.  They aren’t abstractions to me.

It doesn’t matter who started the latest round, and which side is responding to the other.  Rockets, bombs, F-16s and drones, they’re all meant to kill.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that diplomacy has failed miserably in the Middle East.

Today, Israel’s leaders are considering their options: a ground invasion into Gaza reminiscent of Operation Cast Lead or perhaps targeted assassinations directed towards the leaders of Hamas.

Gaza’s leaders haven’t publicized their  options, but any observer knows that the Palestinians don’t have many.   Continue launching homemade rockets towards Israel?  Send a stealth execution team into Jerusalem to try and “take out” Netanyahu?  Maybe install some large fans in the Mediterranean Sea to direct the flow of sewage towards Israel?

Or maybe every man, woman and child in Gaza should pick up a rock and just walk to the border.  Could Israel really gun down 1000s of Palestinians walking to the border?

One friend of mine, a Palestinian living in the United States with family members in Gaza, appears to endorse this last idea.  “Every Palestinian should just fight with every means at their disposal,” is his response.

While I understand his frustration and the injustices of the occupation, I think physical violence on both sides is a sign of failure and a clear signal that the dinosaurs are roaming in the Middle East.   Dinosaurs are my analogy for a way of thinking and acting that is on the path towards extinction.

So what’s the alternative to more of the same failed policies of the past?

I’m not a foreign policy expert.  Can’t even claim to be an armchair foreign policy buff.  But here’s some ideas, for what they’re worth.

1)  Palestinians continue to seek “observer status” at the UN General Assembly and when they get it, proceed directly to the International Criminal Court.

2) The United States government, educational and financial institutions, private companies and the world of nations should withhold funding and support of the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

3) The Palestinians in Gaza, along with others interested in supporting them, should build an ark to launch from the Gaza Seaport next spring or summer carrying Palestinian products for export to the rest of the world.  Lets break the Israeli blockade from the inside-out.

4) The next generation of Palestinian intellectuals (I have met many in the past few weeks) should pick up pens and blog about Gaza, the occupation, their hopes and dreams.   Many of them already are blogging and turning the world’s eyes towards this inhumane occupation.  See here and here and here.

5) The Israeli electorate should trounce Netanyahu and his coalition at the next election on January 22, 2013.  Netanyahu is leading his nation down a dead-end path which bodes ill for that country’s future survival.  This election is a pivotal time for Israel’s citizens to change direction.

6) President Obama should take a completely new tact in Middle East diplomacy —- distancing himself from Netanyahu and strengthening his leadership with both moral persuasion and carrots and sticks.  The US has a great deal of leverage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if we would only use it.

7) More Americans should disregard the warnings from the US State Department and plan to visit Gaza and the West Bank, either as part of a delegation or as individuals.    See with your own eyes the “facts on the ground.”

Those are my two cents to break the impasse.

Oh . . . and if nothing else works, I think the United Nations General Assembly should withdraw Resolution 181 which created Israel in 1948, dissolve the boundaries between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and redraw new boundaries creating two new states based on an equitable distribution of resources and people.   Undoubtedly, neither side will be happy, but it’s time for the community of nations to step in and fix this mess.


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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, Peaceful, Politics, United Nations, US Policy

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