Fight for freedom in Middle East

By Andrew Stettler
March 19, 2009

I see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of the war on terror but not as a military campaign. In order to put an end to terrorism in Israel, we have to allow Palestinians the availability of jobs and the freedom to travel beyond the Palestinian borders.

Today, the Israeli army occupies the land where Palestinians live. The Israeli government says the wall is for security reasons.

However, because Israelis have begun knocking down Palestinian homes and replacing them with Jewish settlements, Palestinians are becoming poorer and even more likely to engage in the violence.

The Gaza Strip suffered a 41.3 percent unemployment rate last June. Last December and January, rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza strip, which then began an Israeli retaliation that took over 3,000 Palestinian lives.

In order for the U.S to put an end to terrorism in Israel, we have to stabilize the region by pushing both sides to come to a negotiated peace on boundaries and reconciliation. An objective the west has failed to produce time and time again.

However, there are peacebuilding steps that the U.S. could take in order to at least get the two sides moving in their negotiations.

For one thing, the walls that separate Israelis from Palestinians are eventually going to have to come down. Together with checkpoints throughout the Palestinian territories, the wall symbolizes the Israel’s control of the area.

The occupation resembles a prison camp with barbed-wire fences and soldiers holding machine guns. It can take hours to get to work in the morning while soldiers check passports and ask questions.

Another thing the U.S., especially U.S. peace organizations, can do is find ways to get the Palestinian and Israeli people to talk. Now, I don’t mean their governments, I mean the people.

Not all neighboring towns had trouble with one another, but still the wall was built in order to keep suicide bombers from leaving the Palestinian areas.

Now in order for both sides to have better diplomatic relations, they are going to have to let their people understand each other. Most Israelis feel have supported the recent conflict against Palestinians. However, it is a completely different world inside the walls than out.

In my opinion, one of the best things the U.S can do to end the conflict and deeply lower the threat of terrorism around the world is to have diplomatic relations with Iran.

While the U.S. is the main weapons supplier of Israel, Iran supplies weapons to Gaza. If both the U.S. and Iran were to have diplomatic relations with one another, then perhaps the conflict in Israel would lose some legitimacy.

This would tell Israelis and Palestinians that there would not always be a powerful nation supporting their every decision. Eventually retaliation would begin to mean something again. Punishment. A bruise in the hope that that side would be the one to take the lead in peace- keeping.

Obviously we are worlds away from reaching this kind of success. There will be a wall dividing both people for a long time and more Palestinians and Israelis will suffer if not physically than psychologically from the violence.

When the U.S. elected Barack Obama as the new president, America showed that it wanted its president to talk with nations that pose as a threat to our national security.

As always, we will never negotiate with terrorists but we will talk with nations that harbor them and with that notion, it seems more and more realistic that in two or three years the situation in Israel will improve.

Hope presses the gas but we are steering the wheel. We as a people will be the ones to tell our politicians which direction we would like to go.

The decision will come in whether or not we choose to educate ourselves on the issue of the Middle East Conflict because if the conflict is to make any progress toward peace at all, I believe it will happen within the Obama administration.

Andrew Stettler

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