The Path to Peace: The End of War in the Middle East Will Only Come with a Paradigm Shift

By Rice, Jim | Sojourners Magazine, March 2009 | Go to article overview

The Path to Peace: The End of War in the Middle East Will Only Come with a Paradigm Shift


Rice, Jim, Sojourners Magazine


The recent trend in Middle East wars is that they are short, brutish, and nasty--and they accomplish little of the ostensible goals for either side.

Israel's shock-and-awe campaign this winter--aimed at Hamas militants who have been firing missiles into southern Israeli towns, but inflicted mostly on civilian bystanders--is the latest example. Over 22 days, the U.S.-backed Israel Defense Forces, one of the most powerful, state-of-the-art militaries in the world, pummeled the heavily urban Gaza Strip. More than 1,200 Palestinians died and more than 4,000 were injured, many of them noncombatants. Four Israeli civilians were killed by the Hamas rockets.

Almost 300 children in Gaza were killed by the Israeli attacks, and more than 1,000 were injured. Many of rest, according to reports, are severely traumatized--and convinced that violent resistance is the only option for their future.

"If your parents can't give you safety, kids will look to others who can," a Gazan psychologist told The Washington Post. "They're going to want to play tile role of the fighter. So the Israeli government is really creating its own enemy."

If Israel sought to undermine support for Hamas, it failed. Instead, the carnage has helped to beget the next generation of extremists in the battle that seems to have no end.

THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT is complex and difficult not only for the people directly involved. It's also a challenge for those committed to peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution, in the region and elsewhere. Israel-based groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions have long worked, in the face of much heated opposition, for a just, secure peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Despite difficult political conditions, Israeli peacemakers--and the Israeli press--have often engaged in more honest truth-telling and vigorous debate than many in the U.S. or international community. In contrast, the British public network BBC refused in late January to run an appeal for Gaza reconstruction aid by the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children, and other charities, claiming that to run it would be "unbalanced."

That fear of violating some mythical perfect evenhandedness, regarding a struggle that has never been between two equals, has left many U. …

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