Lessons from the Hezbollah-Israel War: What’s Next?

Ron Young is a founder of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (2003), organized the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East (1987), and authored the book, Missed Opportunities for Peace: U.S. Middle East Policy 1981-86.  Ron can be contacted by e-mail at usicpme@aol.com.

While some lessons from the Hezbollah-Israel war reinforce polarizing tensions among our communities, there also are lessons from this war on which we can agree and which can provide inspiration for finding a united interreligious voice and help us to define consensus positions for what American Jews, Christians and Muslims might advocate together going forward.

·       In contrast with the assertion that the Hezbollah-Israel war was all about “fighting terrorism,” whatever motivation Syria or Iran may have had in encouraging Hezbollah, in fact, this war would almost certainly never have happened if the United States and the international community had pressed for and provided sufficient support for full  implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 (September 2004) that called for disarming Lebanese militia, including Hezbollah.  Another, even more basic cause of the war is the failure to achieve a comprehensive resolution for the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

·       The Hezbollah-Israel war and the crisis in Gaza demonstrate once again that there is no such thing as a safe, stable status quo in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Either the parties negotiate their way forward toward peace or they soon slide backward toward renewed violence and war.

·       Despite Israel’s overwhelming military power, whether in the Israeli-Palestinian context or in the Israeli-Arab state context, there is no military solution to the conflict. Violence, especially violence against civilians, whether from a “terrorist attack” or from so called “collateral damage” of organized military action, compounds people’s deep distrust and hatred for the other side, and makes the conflict more difficult to resolve.  Both the crisis in Gaza and the war in Lebanon also demonstrate even after Israeli unilateral withdrawals that there is no unilateral solution to the conflict. The only possible solution is a negotiated solution in which both sides agree to tough compromises and ironclad security arrangements with international guarantees.

·       While popular majorities and many leaders on both sides of the conflict recognize these realities, the parties cannot resolve the conflict by themselves. Resolving the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require substantial involvement by the international community, including a key creative leadership role by the United States. The historical record shows that every example of significant progress toward Arab-Israeli peace has involved active, fair and firm U.S. leadership.

·       As the Hezbollah-Israel war ends, it is important that the U.S. and international community not lose focus or turn away as often has happened after past crises, but instead press ahead for full implementation of U.N Security Council Resolution 1701, including support for disarming Hezbollah and a massive reconstruction effort, as well as renewal of negotiations to resolve the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  While maintaining their resolve on demands that Hamas reject violence and accept Israel, the United States, in coordination with other members of the Quartet (EEU, Russia and the U.N.) must push ahead urgently to seek an end to the crisis in Gaza, work for an effective and lasting Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire, and get negotiations restarted toward the goal of a two-state solution.  There also need to be renewed diplomatic effors for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, including peace agreements between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon.

·       The principles and practical ideas for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace, based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397 (supporting a two-state solution) are clear. Despite current deep discouragement and frustration, there is substantial evidence that peace is possible.  Evidence includes the durability of the Egyptian-Israeli and Jordanian-Israeli peace treaties, the Arab League Peace Initiative of 2002 (despite some unacceptable provisions), and substantial Israeli and Palestinian popular support for the ideas in the Geneva Accord model peace agreement, based on the “Clinton parameters for peace” presented in 2000, subsequently supported by the Bush Administration.

·       Achieving Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace – peace in Jerusalem – will have major positive reverberations throughout the Middle East and worldwide, including helping to reduce the threat of terrorism, supporting democratic reform, encouraging possible region-wide negotiations to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and improving relations between the United States and the Muslim world.  Our nation and the world would likely be much safer if fighting Al Qaeda and pursuing peace in the Middle East rather than invading Iraq had been the top priorities for U.S. policy since September 11, 2001.

Explore posts in the same categories: CALME Luminaries, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East Peace

One Comment on “Lessons from the Hezbollah-Israel War: What’s Next?”

  1. […] Lessons from the Hezbollah-Israel War: What s Next? CALMERon Young is a founder of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle Ron Young is a founder of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the […]

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