published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Dim prospects for Mideast peace

After Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany failed, before and during World War II, in their attempt to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the Earth, the modern nation of Israel was established in 1948 as a refuge for surviving Jews.

But immediately, Israel’s Arab neighbors sought to continue what Hitler had attempted. In a series of wars against Israel over several decades, Arabs were repeatedly defeated. For their aggression, they paid a terrible price in Arab lives, and many Israelis died, too. Israel has survived, but the Arab world’s enmity toward Israel remains.

Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now is seeking to promote a degree of Middle East peace that surely would benefit all the antagonistic parties far better than repetition of the tragedies of the past.

Visiting Washington this week and speaking to cheering members of Congress, Netanyahu said Israelis are willing to make “painful compromises” for peace with the Palestinians. He said Israel would give up some of its West Bank settlements.

But unfortunately, Israel’s olive branch was immediately rebuffed. A senior Palestinian official responded by saying Netanyahu’s peace offer was a “declaration of war.”

With such irrationality and animosity prevailing, the best interests of both Arabs and Israelis are being rejected. Surely, even if there is no chance for real peace and friendship, at least a cessation of hostilities would be better for both sides than continued loss of lives in constant Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israeli military responses to those attacks.

While there is no expectation that Palestinians and Israelis will have any kind of “love fest,” people on both sides who desire to preserve their lives and the lives of their families should understand that the interests of all in the Middle East would best be served by a perhaps unfriendly but at least nonviolent coexistence.

But reality and even practical Arab self-interest do not prevail in the Middle East. So both sides will continue to suffer.

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