On the long climb to Jerusalem I notice two kinds of trucks. One kind is carrying huge battle tanks still muddy from combat in the West Bank. The other is carrying tents sent from America for Palestinians who have lost their homes in the fighting.
Long before George W. Bush began calling for reform of the Palestinian National Authority (and for Yasir Arafat’s ouster), a group of Palestinian lawmakers and researchers had outlined plans for creating a democratic society.
A senior Israeli official, listening to President Bush’s June 24 speech outlining U.S. policy on the Middle East, kept waiting to hear what pressure the U.S. was going to apply to Israel. He never heard it mentioned. “I thought all the way through the speech: this is the carrot, now comes the stick,” said the official. But “there was no stick.”
Water will determine the future of the Occupied Territories, and by extension, the issue of conflict or peace in the region.” Thomas Naff made this remark several years ago, and water remains a key, if often unacknowledged, issue behind the strife in the Middle East.
The most distressing reality for Americans observing the Middle East is not the deadly struggle between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. What is most distressing, and even chilling, is the fact that no candidate for the U.S. presidency dares to display any awareness of the Palestinian perspective.
As anyone following the news knows, Palestinians and Israelis offer two entirely different accounts of the violence (and two different accounts of what has happened in the region since the emergence of the state of Israel in 1948). The siege at the Church of the Nativity is one more example.
Jenin—the name comes from the Arabic and Hebrew words for “garden.” As Moses was leading his people across the Jordanian desert, no doubt they dreamed of a place like this—green and fertile in the springtime, a place where olive and almond trees proliferate.
Some 25 years ago I met with three major spokesmen of the Palestine Liberation Organization in my capacity as chair of Breira, a Jewish group supporting a two-state solution for Israel/Palestine. Two of the three PLO leaders were soon assassinated. My own life was threatened more than once by the Jewish Defense League.
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s slow journey to Jerusalem gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon an extra week to continue his military assault on the Palestinian West Bank. If that was the purpose of his meandering schedule, Powell need not have bothered. Sharon still repudiated President Bush’s demand that he pull out his forces immediately.