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Letter to Rep Gary L.Ackerman (D-NY)

Reader comment on item: Next Steps in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Submitted by Yuval Brandstetter MD (Israel), Feb 28, 2007 at 17:51


Rep Gary L.Ackerman (D-NY)

United States Congress

2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Dear Rep Ackerman

It is gratifying to see that representatives of the greatest country on earth, the United States of America have taken the task of examining the role of the United States in the Arab-Jewish conflict centered on the Land of Israel.

I have perused the transcript of the testimonies given before the representatives by experts Makovsky. Indyk and Pipes. I come away with some observations.

1. Of the three witnesses, two, Makovsky and Indyk appear to be confused, dismayed and unsure about the past and past events. It appears these experts have been surprised again and again by the dis-connect between their perceptions and reality. Professor Pipes, on the other hand, appeared to be speaking with certitude. His certitude is based upon his predictions consistently coming true, and actual events conforming to his pre-conceptions.

2. All three witnesses agree that Abu Mazen, who appeared to be a man of compromise, sabotages every effort to end the violence by his unwillingness to enforce a policy of compromise with the Israeli State. The experts differ on the reason for Abu Mazen's consistent behavior. Makovsky and Indyk place the onus of inability on impotence. Pipes places the onus on the basic platform of the PLO and the PA as laid down by Yassir Arafat, and his deputy Abu Mazen, namely, the total annihilation and destruction of the Jewish State.

3. The deepest division between the experts lies in the concept of peace between enemies. Makovsky and Indyk believe a cessation of genocidal ideation expressed profusely by the Arab public (Arab rather than Palestinian, because there is no discernible difference in opinions expressed by Arabs east of the Jordan and west of the Jordan, or Syria or Egypt for that matter) can be achieved by deep concessions by the Jewish State, coupled with bolstering the hand of the "moderates" as represented by Abu Mazen. Pipes reiterates that peace can only be achieved via defeat of one of the parties to the conflict, and that the US must decide which side they wish to help defeat. If Israel is to win peace, then the Arabs must be defeated decisively, which means denial of all help to the Arab side. If the US has the opposite intentions, then arming and training Abu-Mazen's troops are good ways of achieving his purpose.

4. The experts seem to differ upon the role of other Arab regimes. Again, Makovsky and Indyk seem to be stupefied by the role the supposed friend of the US, Saudi Arabia, has taken in the process, which was the opposite of their expectations. Instead of using their financial clout to moderate HAMAS, it was Abu Mazen who was further radicalized. Pipes on the other hand, appears sanguine, since he essentially predicted such a turn of events. The Saudis are not intent on peace-making, but upon regime preservation, and since HAMAS represents Wahabbi principles, the bedrock of the Saudi regime, it was incumbent upon the King to back them up. Further, since a-priori no difference can be discerned between the adversaries regarding their homicidal intention vis-à-vis Israel, a unity government dedicated to that express purpose was inevitable.

5. The only principle the experts agree on is that partition is the only solution since both parties to the conflict are "fated" to live together. None of the experts were able to draw a line along which this partition should take place. For a number of good reasons. A. Fate has nothing to do with the present situation, it is entirely man-made. B. All partition plans since 1922 (1925, 1936, 1947, 1949) have failed due to Arab intransigence. This intransigence is grounded in the deep-seated belief that sufficient sacrifices will turn the clock back to some undetermined time where Arabs ruled and Jews were subservient. C. All the partitions suggested do not address the issue of Arabs currently listed as citizens of Israel. This sect has been radicalized so that it currently self-identifies as the vanguard of the aforementioned aspirations of the Arab nation. D. If the 1922 partition along the Jordan River (where the Jewish State is to the west and the Arab state to the east) is de-legitimized, then all other partitions made at the time are equally invalid. In that case all Arab states cease to exist as separate entities.

6. In trying to understand the basis of the deep dissent between the two poles, Indyk and Pipes, it is useful to look at the back-ground of these expert witnesses. Indyk bases his world-view and arguments upon Universal Western principles of justice, mutual respect and individual freedom, on the delicate balance required of the professional mediator and ambassador. He expects Arabs to seek the same ends he does: Peace security and prosperity.

Dr Pipes, on the other hand, comes from the discipline of the study of Islam and Muslims. He draws his insights and conclusions from the culture and history of Arabs, before and after the Muslim era. He divorces his own back-ground from that of his study-subjects, quite dispassionately. Therefore he comes to different conclusions based upon the same data. His conclusion is that Jihad knows no compromise, that Arab ideation is incapable of recognizing Jewish sovereignty, and seeking that compromise is self-delusion, and serves the Jihad. Reluctantly Makovsky alludes to the same, a Muslim religious impediment towards the recognition of a viable Jewish independence, in any territory.

7. The greatest difficulty Makovsky and Indyk display is when asked specifically about the role of US aid to armed forces controlled by Abu_mazen, especially the issue of transparency. They virtually stutter when they come to ways and means of reassuring the representatives of the people that tax-payer's money will not go toward the murder of more Jews. This despite the straight-forward assertion by Abu Mazen that all fire-arms will be pointing at the Jews, which should make all equivocations dispensable. Dr Pipes is unequivocal, and events bear out his views, that Arab purpose is Jihad, regardless of the faction that actually wields the gun.

8. The witnesses agree without reservation that no linkage exists between the Iraq situation and the Jewish Arab conflict. Indeed, when no external enemy is apparent Arab violence turns inwards, into sectarian violent discourse. The same occurs in the Gaza Strip, where rival parties, or armed gangs, fight for the access to international aid money, in addition to the constant harassment of Israel, and the same can be said about Lebanon. Ironically, witnesses and representatives seem to agree that only massive Jewish military intervention in the so-called West Bank has delayed the general spiral into anarchy so characteristic of the aforementioned countries and territories.

9. A specific assertion by Martin Indyk that went unchallenged, is that Palestinians are a people, deserving of National rights, a fact which no Israeli Prime-Minister can ignore. The possibility not raised, but much more likely, is that no Israeli Prime Minister believes the Palestinians are a people, (to quote Farouk Kadoumi who gleefully related that the Palestinian Identity is but a hoax invented to legitimize territorial demands) but that their people-hood is but an acceptable way to single them out as foreign invaders, rather than an indigent population. That was the sole purpose, and the sole outcome of the Oslo Accords as seen through the prism of time.

10. It appears legislators are in a conundrum. On the one hand experts, especially those with connections to the Saudi oil establishment, claim that Middle East stability and therefore continued oil flow is contingent upon the resolution of the Arab-Jewish conflict so that the Arabs must be placated. On the other hand experts such as Dr Pipes point out that none of the predictions and forecasts supplied by those aforementioned experts has ever come true, and that intra-Arab sectarian violence is a far greater threat to the oil-flow. On the one hand "moderate", that is Sunni Arab states, seem to provide a bulwark against the expansion of "radical" Shia power manifest in Iran. On the other hand the "moderate" center of the Sunna, Saudi Arabia, has actually facilitated the union of the Radical Sunni power HAMAS with the "moderates" whilst the same HAMAS is eliciting and receiving aid from Iran. On the one hand Humanitarian organizations are squarely on the Arab side, on the other hand no amount of aid seems to shift the balance from Terror to humanitarian alleviation of poverty. The conundrums are indeed stupefying. Indeed, even the question of sending out one General to review the prospects of Abu-Mazen's troops seems fraught with insurmountable difficulties, to say naught of a Peace Train being pushed up a ramp with no discernible rails and the likelihood of a sheer drop at the end.

11. Representative Ackerman did place the otherwise imperturbable Pipes on the hot-plate over his main argument. What does defeat mean? How does one break the Arab will? How to achieve the impossible of defeating Arab will, whilst retaining their aspirations for an independent peaceful State? Whilst not repeating WWII almost total destruction of Germany? This is the one issue where professor Pipes dodges the issue, perhaps knowing his partition plan within the Holy Land is a failed attempt at self-delusion.

12. If I may be so bold as to suggest a new/old solution to the conundrums, one that is even-handed, and inexpensive. Disengagement from the Peace-Process, under the veritable claim that peace-making has caused more harm than good, has caused more deaths than any previous war. Coupled with that, complete cessation of handout to all parties, inclusive of Egypt, which has played a very negative game so far. Israel, the US and Europe will ear-mark all foreign aid to resettle Arabs in the territories earmarked for them in the only binding and durable agreement governing the Holy Land, the 1922 San Remo charter, which mandated two countries, a Jewish State and an Arab state on either side of the Jordan River. If the US truly wishes to bring peace and stability to the locale it must re-endorse the San Remo charter as the only two-state solution feasible. Even now more than 70 percent of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, there is no reason it should not be 95% Arab-Palestinian. Arabs residing west of the Jordan can be endowed with Jordanian citizenship, as Jews residing east of the Jordan be endowed with Israeli citizenship. A solution even-handed, fair, and verifiable.

Yuval Brandstetter MD

Beer Sheva, Israel


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