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Prospects for peace

Prospects for peace

Are we on the brink of a lasting peace in the Middle East? Writing in Arab News, peace activists Dr. Nazir Khaja and Fr. Raymond G. Helmick assess the chances.

August 29, 2010 4:12 by

Such an outcome is altogether unnecessary. It is clear enough that the Americans would lose the Israeli participation instantly if they were to extend a welcome to Hamas at this point. But they could establish communication with the Hamas leadership, most likely through Track II mediation, and could stop the sabotaging of their governance. They could make evident to the Palestinian participants in the process their realization that the Palestinians can accomplish nothing while disunited.

That interval before the American congressional elections, during which nothing substantive can happen in the negotiations, provides the time for that, and once the negotiations move into genuine activity in November a place could then be found for Hamas to demonstrate its readiness for constructive action.

Improbable? Remember, Obama seems to be a man of principle. He is also a political actor, and knows not to commit himself and his party to political suicide when the hounds are baying. He held an iftar dinner in the White House and delivered a spirited defense of the right of Muslims to build that mosque in Lower Manhattan of which we continue to hear. He did that without telling his political aides what he was going to say; they forced him, the next day, to issue a somewhat incoherent qualification.

Obama like nearly all Americans is for Israel, even with horror at what we see Israel doing to its Palestinian victims; yet he is not partisan to Israeli mayhem upon another people. His concern for Israel includes a realization of how Israel is defiling the generous heritage of Jewish faith and culture. He must be relied upon. We have not seen the end of this story yet. We must believe that he will strive (no guarantees of success) to make it good for Israel, good for Palestinians, good for Arabs, good for the peace of the region and of the world.

Fr. Raymond G. Helmick, S.J. is instructor in conflict resolution, Department of Theology, Boston College and author of “Negotiating Outside the Law: Why Camp David Failed” (London, Pluto Press 2004). Dr. Nazir Khaja (e-mail: [email protected]) is a peace activist, chairman of Islamic Information Service, Los Angeles. Both authors have been members of Middle East peace delegations with Rev. Jesse Jackson.

- Arab News

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