Archive for August 2006

American Policy Is Not Advancing Israeli Security

August 31, 2006

By Daniel Levy.  Levy is currently a joint senior fellow at the New America Foundation and The Century Foundation.  He previously served as an official negotiator at the Oslo II and Taba peace talks and was the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative.  This article was previously published in Forward magazine.
 
Rejection of hubris has become the defining characteristic of the post-Lebanon war mood and debate in Israel. That is understandable. Israel’s civilians in the north faced a daily dosage of 200 missiles, while the military met a surprisingly well-equipped and trained guerrilla force. The mood has been best captured by the Israeli military’s outgoing commander for infantry and paratroops, Brigadier General Yossi Hyman, who publicly bemoaned that “we were guilty of the sin of arrogance.”
 
Although the circumstances in the United States are clearly different, a little introspection might benefit those Americans concerned and passionate about Israel. While the laudable United Jewish Communities-led effort to provide assistance to both Jewish and Arab communities in Israel addresses a real need and demonstrates the vitality of heartfelt ties, getting the response right when it come to political policy will prove far more difficult. Washington’s reflex to the war with Hezbollah was to stick to the same old narrative: the administration stayed in lock-step with Jerusalem, Congress overwhelmingly passed a ‘pro-Israel’ resolution, evangelical pastor John Hagee led our Christian ‘friends’ to Capitol Hill and only the usual suspects were left to snipe from the sidelines. Mission accomplished — except that the circumstances faced by Israel and the United States following the latest Lebanon war make the smug response anything but the smart response.
 
At least three trends visible during that long month demand a reflective, not reflexive, approach to its aftermath.

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How Israel Should Respond to Hezbollah Now*

August 30, 2006

By Frederic C. Hof, CEO, AALC Ltd.; and former Chief of Staff of the Sharm el-Sheikh (Mitchell) Fact-Finding Committee

* These remarks are adapted from a speech Mr. Hof gave on a recent Lebanon-Israel panel in Turkey

Lebanon has the form of a state.  It has the appearance of a state.  It has a government.  It has a seat in the UN General Assembly.  But there is no state.  Lebanon is not a failed state.  It is a non-state.  It is a fragment of the late Ottoman Empire missing one essential piece: it has no sultan, a role provided by Syria for 15 years and more.

For many Lebanese Shiites – and together they account for at least 40 percent of Lebanon’s population – Hezbollah is the de facto state.  It is not a state-within-a-state.  It is a state within a non-state.  For virtually all members and supporters of Hezbollah, the organization is a purely Lebanese entity that protects them, represents them and provides essential social services to them.  Even Lebanese who take a dim view of Hezbollah do not consider it to be a terrorist organization.

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American Pessimism Toward the Possibility of Peace Soars

August 29, 2006

By Ms. Jeri Rice, Founder, Jeri Rice Boutique; Founding Board Member, Center for Women and Democracy at the University of Washington

I found the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll that said 70 percent of Americans do not think Israel and its Arab neighbors can live in peace (up from 64 percent last month) highly distressing.  The poll also said that a majority of Americans – 56 percent – do not believe our country has a responsibility to try to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict.

While this poll would indicate that I am in the minority, I believe a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Arabs can still be achieved.  However, I do not believe it will happen without active and sustained involvement by the United States.  Although we Americans may wish to ignore this seemingly perpetual conflict, both humanitarian and national security reasons have empowered us with the responsibility to try to resolve it.  In terms of our own interests, actively working toward a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians will help the United States succeed in Iraq and in our fight against terrorism, and improve our image among Arab and Muslim populations.  Despite the negativity toward our involvement in the region, I hope the President will finally put resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the top of his agenda.

Next Steps for the U.S.

August 28, 2006

By Jennifer Dunn, Former Member of Congress (R-WA)

Even though U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 is still not fully in force, the U.S. must be working with its allies to ensure that the situation will not return to the status quo ante, as Secretary Rice warned since the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

The tenuous situation throughout the region requires substantial leadership on three fronts: providing aid for the reconstruction of Lebanon, clarifying the Resolution’s ambiguous wording to ensure that the international force has the power it needs to end the violence, and forging and holding an international coalition that will truly enforce the much heralded Resolution 1559.

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Assessing the Aftermath

August 25, 2006

Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab-American Institute and CALME Luminary, offers an assessment of the war in Washington Watch, his weekly column. 

The war on Lebanon is over, but only in a manner of speaking. It was an unnecessary war that left in its wake death, destruction and unresolved issues all around.

Listening to the overblown rhetoric emanating from all sides, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. From Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s preposterous claim of “unprecedented” accomplishments, to one Arab commentator’s horrific pronouncement that “today is a day for celebration and unprecedented joy,” it is all so indecent.
Olmert and his Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, will, it appears, have their day of reckoning. How fickle the public mood! These two inexperienced leaders had seen their approval ratings soar as they battered and strangled a captive Gaza Strip. But 35 days of Lebanon and they plummet back to Earth.

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Using Foreign Aid as a Peacemaking Tool, While Understanding Its Limits

August 24, 2006

One of the most prominent headlines to spread across the media in the aftermath of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict was, “U.S. Races Hezbollah to Provide Aid to Lebanese Civilians”.  To many, it had become clear that much of Hezbollah’s support rests on its extensive social service network, and that its constituency will only grow if the Lebanese civilians see Hezbollah as the only organization coming to their aid.  That same linkage exists between aid from and support for Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

As CALME luminary Scott Lasensky, Senior Research Associate at the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, and his colleague Robert Grace note in a recent paper, “Dollars and Diplomacy: Foreign Aid and the Palestinian Question,” the provision of aid to the Palestinians and the linkage of that aid to economic progress has correlated to the interest of those citizens in pursuing peace.  They recall, “For more than thirty years, the United States has relied on foreign aid as a principal diplomatic tool in the quest for Arab-Israeli peace…But since the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations more than five years ago, the linkage between foreign aid and political progress has become increasingly strained.”

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Using the State Department’s “Lessons Learned” to Rebuild Lebanon

August 23, 2006

CALME Luminary Martin Indyk (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs) and Former State Department Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization Carlos Pascual Lay Out Principles for Necessary Aid Assistance

In the aftermath of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, the challenge the world now faces is that, “Victory in the latest war in Lebanon will not be won on the battlefield, but in the race between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government to rebuild homes and lives.”  Taking stock of recent and ongoing conflicts, the U.S. and the world must help by following several clear principles, Indyk and Pascual say in today’s New York Times.  

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