The Obama administration’s pursuit of Middle East peace has brought little if any promising results thus far. Assigning who is to blame for the stalled talks, however, seems to be a much easier task for the US administration. In typical fashion, Washington has laid responsibility for the failure in the recent launch of peace negotiations squarely on Israel’s shoulders, using the announcement of the 1,600 new homes built in eastern Jerusalem during VP Joe Biden’s visit, as the primary reason why peace talks were not progressing.
“We have to make clear to our Israeli friend and partner that the two state solution which we support…requires confidence building measures on both sides and the announcement of the settlements the very day the VP was there, was insulting and unfortunate…” stated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently. Although Clinton attempted to smooth things over in her AIPAC address, she stated that the US was obligated to tell Israel the truth.
Clinton’s assessment of this current ‘obstacle’ to the Middle East peace process simply reveals how very little Washington truly understands of the conflict, especially by dressing the situation with terms like “confidence building.” The current problems in the Mideast conflict are beyond issues of mistrust.
As Palestinian demonstrations and continued rocket attacks in the past week have shown, deep currents of hate and ideological calls for destruction against Israel still continue to run strongly among Palestinian leaders. The rededication of the Hurva synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 15, originally constructed in the 18th century, was the most recent example of how Israel’s recognition of ancient Jewish landmarks in the Jewish state infuriates the radical Islamic leadership of Hamas and even the PA.
In response to the synagogue dedication, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared that Jerusalem will “always remain Islamic.” In addition, Hamas’s ambassador in Lebanon, Osama Hamadan, told Al-Jazeera TV that the opening of the Hurva Synagogue was part of a larger Israeli attempt to “invent” a Jewish history for Jerusalem. On March 16, Hamas declared a Day of Rage and defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a way to further incite Palestinians and escalate tensions.
The continued incitement and hate-education of Israel is carried out not only by Hamas. Palestinian Media Watch recently reported that PA television is broadcasting a new children’s program called Chicks that teaches children about different areas of Palestine, using a map labeled only “Palestine” which depicts all of Israel. Next to the map, written in English and Arabic is “Explore Your Country.” Education for a two-state solution does not exist on PA television programs for youth.
However, the most disturbing developments which Washington continues to steadfastly ignore is Iran’s continued financial and moral support of Hamas’s terrorist and incitement activities. Dr. Khalil Al Hayya, a Hamas leader who was interviewed earlier this year on Hamas’s military wing’s website, Iz a-din al-Qassam Brigades, stated that “Iran supports us financially, politically and morally without political price.”
Furthermore, the Iranian Intelligence Minister Hydar Maslahi recently called on Muslim countries to launch a so-called media intifada against Israel during a conference for the National and Islamic Solidarity for the Future of Palestine held in Teheran on February 28 (The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center). Maslahi stated that his ministry was willing to provide any assistance to Palestinian people who would carry out anti-Israel and anti-US propaganda campaigns through on-line social networking.
Until Washington recognizes the broader problems facing the Middle East at this time, including the continuing incitement that Palestinian leaders generate among their constituents, as well as “Islamizing” Israel’s Jewish history and refusing to recognize to recognize any “Jewish” rights to the land, the road to negotiations is near impossible.
Mainstream media and much of the world community have always maintained that Israel’s building of Jewish homes and settlements are the primary obstacles to peace talks. To continue to believe so is not only irresponsible but dangerous on the part of the US government. A truly comprehensive peace process can be constructed only when the ideological issues that continue to fan the flames of hate are addressed. By not doing so, Washington is building another faulty foundation for a peace process that is bound for collapse.
Anav Silverman is the international correspondent for Sderot Media Center: www.SderotMedia.org.il, a social media organization dedicated to bringing the voices of Sderot residents to the attention of the global community.