The Holy Land: Part
By Bill Becker
June 16, 2004, a group of 27 former diplomats and military commanders
issued a call for the defeat of President George W. Bush in November.
men and women of Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change
are not bleeding heart, terrorist-appeasing wimps--rather, they
are experts who "believe that current Administration policies
have failed in the primary responsibilities of preserving national
security and providing world leadership. Serious issues are at stake.
We need a change."
One of those
"serious issues" is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:
States suffers from close identification with autocratic regimes
in the Muslim world, and from the perception of unquestioning support
for the policies and actions of the present Israeli Government.
To enhance credibility with Islamic peoples we must pursue courageous,
energetic and balanced efforts to establish peace between Israelis
and Palestinians, and policies that encourage responsible democratic
The DMCC understands
what the vast majority of the American people do not:
Bush has utterly failed to provide crucial leadership toward solving
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
to broker a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians
virtually guarantees future terrorism against U.S. citizens on
and U.S. assertions to the contrary, there are credible avenues
toward a settlement of the conflict that will minimize that loss
of life on both sides. Israel does have a partner with whom to
negotiate a just peace, but meaningful negotiations cannot take
place without unwavering U.S. support.
First, in his
latest meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President
Bush agreed to Sharon's demand that Israel will keep some (illegal)
settlements in the West Bank as a reward for Israeli withdrawal
from the Gaza Strip. The president thus abandoned the founding precept
of decades of U.S. efforts to broker a peace between Israelis and
American clerics agree that the president's new approach is politically,
strategically, and morally untenable.
- I firmly
believe that there will be no just or lasting peace for either
Palestine or Israel without the engagement of both parties in
that process. Your endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's unilateral
disengagement plan and support for his positions on the vital
issues of borders, settlements and refugees outside of the context
of negotiations is a serious departure from America's traditional
view that a resolution of these issues must be negotiated. I fear
that your commitment threatens the renewal of negotiations in
which Israelis and Palestinians can accommodate each others' vital
interests without coercion or imposition. Turning away from meaningful
negotiations will undermine hope, discourage moderate Palestinian
voices, and threaten further violence. A retreat from strong,
even handed American diplomacy in this conflict also jeopardizes
America's struggle against terrorism. - The Most Rev. Frank T.
Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church,
- With deep
commitment to the constructive role that the United States can
play in the Middle East, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urges
you to reconsider giving your support to ill-considered policies
advocated by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. We urge you
to reclaim your role as a leader capable of using the influence
of the United States to pressure Palestinian and Israeli leaders
to turn from violence and re-engage in the hard work of moving
toward a just peace. - Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- In accepting
Israeli-created "facts-on-the-ground," which were established
in defiance of long standing US policy regarding Israeli settlements
and the right of return, the United States has set a worrying
precedent that will make it extremely difficult to create a viable,
independent Palestinian state, especially if the West Bank settlements
are enlarged and the security wall proceeds as planned. The combined
pressures of expanding settlements, prolonged occupation, the
security wall, and general insecurity could lead in time to de
facto "transfer" of much of the Palestinian population.
For those who remain, it will yield a life of desperation; and
for many it will feed the fires of resistance. - Bishop Wilton
D. Gregory Bishop of Belleville, President, United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops
Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a never-ending wellspring for anti-American
sentiment among Muslim youth. It is perhaps the most effective tool
imaginable for recruiting anti-American militants for al Queda and
its increasingly numerous imitators. Col.
Daniel Smith, USA, (Ret.) makes the point:
Bush (April 14, 2004): 'I welcome the disengagement plan prepared
by the Government of Israel, under which Israel would withdraw certain
military installations and all settlements from Gaza and withdraw
certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank
"With this April 14, 2004, statement, President Bush threw
the full weight of the United States government against any impartial
settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. ..."
"... as the intifada continued into autumn 2003, new doubts
about Israeli tactics were aired within Israel from unexpected quarters.
In late October, General Moshe Yaalon, Israeli Defense Forces Chief
of Staff, told reporters that the restrictions then in effect on
freedom of movement by Palestinians were so harsh that, by increasing
anti-Israeli sentiment, they were strengthening the appeal of terrorist
organizations and undercutting Israel's strategic interests. ...
One [former security chief] noted that 'terror is not thwarted with
bombs or helicopters' ..."
expressed by Ambassador Perry, the U.S. may 'be working towards
a Middle East in which America and Israel dominate the region
militarily, forcing the Arab and other Muslim states to conform
to our image of what they ought to be.' Such an outcome will no
more bring peace than whistling in the dark by the cemetery will
ward off ghosts. It is a recipe for perpetual war and unending
I will address
avenues toward peace in Part II.
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