Recent revelations of alleged human rights violations by the Israeli military during the Gaza War, along with aggressive rhetoric from both sides – combined with a peace process being ushered by Israel’s conservative hawk Benjamin Netanyahu – have combined to create more complications for America’s war on terror. As a result, the whole mess has landed the Middle East peace process in a very familiar place: on the desk of the US president.
That’s the opinion of David Price, a scientist turned political activist and author of the book The (Induced) Ignorance of Power (www.roadmapforamerica.com), who spent 10 years in the Middle East and understands the culture better than most who are commenting on the conflict.
“The recent allegations from the human rights group ‘Breaking the Silence’ that Israel engaged in systematic human rights abuses and war crimes in Gaza, comes as no surprise,” Price said. “In the 1980’s forces under the control of Israel massacred 700+ unarmed refugees during a similar incursion into Lebanon. Washington turned a cold shoulder to the allegations, and the memory of that inaction – combined with decades of enmity with the Arab world and religious extremists – continue to plague America’s efforts to halt terrorism.”
However, while evidence of killing innocents would be the most dramatic example of abuse, the action that has poisoned the Middle East peace process has been the continual seizing of Palestinian homes and land by Israel, according to Price.
“For 40 years, Israel has been creating settlements on land considered to be sovereign Palestinian land, as declared by the United Nations,” he said. “Stories of Palestinian families being evicted from their homes at gunpoint are standard in the Arab world. Every president since Richard Nixon has condemned this practice, but none has had the political courage to engage in anything but rhetoric.”
However, US President Barack Obama has taken a harder line with Israel than previous presidents, including his predecessor George W. Bush.
“Barack Obama has stated settlement activity must stop, and has intimated aid to Israel may be withheld,” Price added. “This is the first time in modern history that an American president has even head-faked in that direction. Even more significant, President Obama has said there must be a two state solution. Israel must withdraw from lands seized in violation of UN mandates, and that the Palestinian Territories must be given autonomy. Considering it took Netanyahu decades to even utter the words ‘Palestinian state’ in the same sentence together, this is a dramatic turn of events in US/Israeli relations. With the US one of Israel’s last remaining allies, it’s possible that Obama’s hard line may be just what it takes for the parties involved to take each other seriously in a renewed peace process.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington and with the 2010 mid-term elections looming, it’s likely there will be intense pressure on the Democratic Party to convince Obama to back down, he added.
“With the general public disenchanted with Obama’s domestic deficit spending and bail-outs, the Democrats will be at risk of losing their majority,” he said. “If the right is angered and the left is embarrassed, it leaves the center as Obama’s only base of support. Most Congressional representatives will not want the added opposition of the Jewish community, so the real quandary for the White House is whether Obama is going to act as the leader of the Democratic Party, or as the President of the United States and leader of the free world.”
Political activist David Price is a PhD-holding scientist and agricultural consultant with extensive international experience. Working on every continent except Australia, he has had to immerse himself and otherwise learn foreign cultures at the grass roots level. David is distressed over the fact the US government does not seem to understand any culture other than our own.