Arab-Israel Conflict: American Investment in People

Arab-Israel Conflict: American Investment in People-People Programs and Grassroots Initiatives to Promote Peace

Introduction

The Israel-Arab conflict has continued for over a century now and is considered one of the very serious conflicts around the world. Not only does the duration makes this conflict outstanding and important for many of the worldwide countries but the fact that the territory which the conflict occupies is the Holy Land for such religions as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Thus, it is apprehensible that until the conflict is solved to the benefit of either of its participants this topic will continue being the question of international importance. America plays a major role in this conflict and is viewed by the Arab states as the biggest supporter of Israel.

The support Israel receives from the United States extends beyond merely financial aid and diplomatic support. The US has repeatedly supported Israel’s position including resolutions in the United Nations Security Council – of which the US is a permanent member – “the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel”[1]. The question regarding the US’ support towards Israel is immediately raised; “if neither strategic nor moral arguments account for America’s support for Israel, how are we to explain it?”[2]. The claim that America supports Israel because it is a fellow democracy surrounded by dictatorships is incoherent, as there are numerous democracies around the world, none of which receives even remotely the same level of support. In fact, any Western attempt to exert direct pressure of that sort on Arab countries is bound to intensify the strong anti-Western—especially anti-American— sentiments of many ordinary Arabs: above all, the growing anti-Western sentiments of the Islamic fundamentalists, who reject out Western culture and values, including, at least in some instances, liberal, Western-style democracy.

Present Condition of Arab-Israel Conflict

The West’s interest in the Middle East’s economic and political reform, if any, is bound to decline significantly in the 21st century, as the region’s oil reserves are depleted—and with it, the region’s economic and strategic importance for the West. Private Western concerns, and the economic, scientific, and technical assistance they provide to the region too are not particularly well-equipped to stimulate the process of liberalization and democratization. “Given their primarily profit-making concerns and preoccupations, Western companies and corporations are even less equipped than their government agencies to stimulate such reforms.”[3] A documentary called “Encounter point” that was put together and produced by a team of Palestinians, Israeli’s and North Americans focuses on how dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis might bring about peace. The slogan of the documentary is “So what do you do with this pain? Do you take it and look for revenge and keep the whole cycle going of violence, or do you choose another path?”[4] This is the path in which no diplomats are included, but in with people from society, people who are suffering the same painful experiences, share with each other their pain and talk about solutions. In the documentary Palestinians who lost members of their family and loved ones meet with Israelis who went through the same hard times. One Palestinian in the documentary meets an Israeli and explains that he always wanted to meet an Israeli who wants peace, and the Israeli replied that there are many but are scared to face each other.

America believes that the push of peace through agreement and treaties between the leaders will actually bring peace. But in reality, what America does continues to “express” interest in peace without really seeing the main problem. The Arabs see America as a bias towards Israel and will not listen to its interest because Arabs believe that America is “brain washed”. However, the question is, president after president express the interest in peace and not much is done. The world is waiting for America, who’s looked upon as one of the major powers to do something about it. But unless these people talk and negotiate and share their views not much is going to happen. America should be investing more in grassroots initiatives that will cause people to talk to each other, hopefully they will realize that they all want the same thing, that they all will continue to be “stubborn” that they might be able to live together, they just have to prove it by joining these people together ‘bottom up’ and not the other way round. After George Bush, “Bill Clinton who was known to have stronger sympathies towards Israel than his predecessor”[5]

Another thing that is stopping America from investing much in such organizations is that it’s too busy with the Israel Lobbying. According to the article The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, the United States, influenced greatly by the Israel lobby, has constantly adopted a biased foreign policy. After the events of 1967, the United States’ foreign policy towards the Middle East has been greatly biased in favor of Israel. “Why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?”[6]. Although the United States and Israel do not share “strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives”[7], through the great influence and power of the Israel lobby, they have managed to convince the United States that both countries share common interests. The power of the lobby is so great that US’ foreign policy is altered to suit that of Israel; “no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest”[8].

Israel, during the threat of the Soviet Union, served as an ally for the United States, however, this was the extent of the support the US received from Israel. Backing Israel came with a great cost, it complicated the US’ relations with the Arab world, forcing it to make decisions based on the national interest of Israel rather than any others, including its own. Moreover, Israel’s strategic location amongst Arab states has limited and challenged its legitimacy to support the United States’ decision to enter the Middle East, such as the Gulf war and the Iraq war.

Arab-Israel Conflicts and its Beneficiaries

Even if the Zionist lobby may have a covert motif to be benefitted from the Arab-Israel conflict, its worst sufferers are the common peoples of Israel and the Middle Eastern countries and its prime beneficiaries appear to be the people in power of these countries and the war businessmen. The main victims of this multi-trillion dollars business are the commons Israelis and the Arabs. Therefore to prolong the animosity between these peoples appears to benefit the arm dealers of the developed countries and the oil companies in the long run.  The internecine problems and conflicts, together with their baleful consequences with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole, including Arab terrorism, would not have arisen in this century had the Arab states been a model of political legitimacy and democracy. Similarly, it does not follow that the political problems pertaining to the future of Palestine would not have arisen had they, and the various British proposals designed to resolve them, been publicly debated and democratically decided; although it is not implausible to suppose that in that case the history of the Palestine Problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict would have been significantly different. At best, the absence of democracy in the Arab world can only account for one important thread in the tangled skein of the Arab-Israeli conflict. “As we have seen, the conflict’s precipitants and deep-lying causes, together with their violent outcomes, involve the contributions of a large number of major historical and cultural forces.”[9]

Conclusion

Grass roots initiatives and people to people programs are the only possible ways to support and help native populations to overcome poverty and fight for democratic changes in the region. Now the question is whether the US authority should take the risk of alienating the Israeli watchdog in the Middle East and depends on the people’s capability of sympathizing each other or not. From the above discussion it is crystal clear that it is better to bring the people close to each other who are suffering the severe consequences of the Arab-Israel conflict than to bring the people in power of these countries to the round table meeting that failed again and again to cause the miseries of the common people.

Works Cited

Dan, “100 Israeli and Palestinian Seeds meet for Field Seminar” 01 Oct. 2009. 20 Oct. 2009 <http://www.seedsofpeace.org/story/2009/10/unique_program>

Dan, “Teen climbs tallest mountain in Africa to support Seeds of Peace”, 30 Sept. 2009. 20 Oct. 2009. <http://www.seedsofpeace.org/story/2009/09/teen_climbs>

Derkacz, Evan AlterNet. “Israelis and Palestinians Destroy the ‘No Partner for Peace’ Canard” 2 Dec. 2006. 20 Oct. 2009 < http://www.alternet.org/movies/44920/>

Fernandez, “The United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: (UN) forging Future Peace”. International Social Science Review, 80 (2005), 43.

Hanh, Thich. Peace Begins Here: Palestinians and Israelis listening to each other. Parallax press, 2004. P. 92

“In a Nutshell: Israeli-Arab Conflict”. MidEast Web. n.d. 20 Oct. 2009 <http://www.mideastweb.org/nutshell.htm>

Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen.  The Israel Lobby. New York: LRB Ltd 2006

Moore and Aweiss, Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians. Paeger, 2004.

Roraback, Amanda. Israel in a nutshell. Enisen publishing, 2004. Page 46

Rynne, Terrance. Ghandi & Jesus: The saving power of nonviolence. Orbis books, 2008. Page 81

Seeds of Peace, “About Seeds of Peace” 20 Oct. 2009 at <http://www.seedsofpeace.org/about>

Seeds of Peace, “Our Mission” 20 Oct. 2009 at <http://www.seedsofpeace.org/about>

“Testimonials”, Seeds of Peace. 20 Oct. 2009 <http://www.seedsofpeace.org/media/testimonials>

[1] Roraback, Amanda. Israel in a nutshell. Enisen publishing, 2004. Page 46

[2] Ibid 7

[3] Go through specially Chapter 2 in Fernandez, “The United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: (UN) forging Future Peace”. International Social Science Review, 80 (2005), 43.

[4]Derkacz, Evan AlterNet. “Israelis and Palestinians Destroy the ‘No Partner for Peace’ Canard,” <http://www.alternet.org/movies/44920/>

[5] Ibid

[6] Mearsheimer & Walt.  The Israel Lobby. New York: LRB Ltd. 2006

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Moore and Aweiss, Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs,

and Palestinians. Paeger, 2004.

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