November 10, 2009 





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A new approach to US aid in the Muslim world


[East Meredith New York October 14 2009]


The American University of Beirut (AUB), from which tens of thousands of Arab leaders have graduated over the last 140 years, is a shining example of foreign aid put to good use. What distinguish the graduates of AUB are not only leadership and a sense of service to the Arab world; graduates of this New York-chartered university are often also strong believers in American culture and ideals.

But foreign aid to poor countries is not always put to such good use. Donors can reach the hearts and minds of recipients when aid creatively addresses human needs such as education, employment, gender equality or health. Unfortunately, however, aid has also been used as compensation for damage done in punitive wars, and has often been squandered through corruption on the side of the donor or recipient. In Iraq, for instance, the Center for Global Development's Commitment to Development Index (CDI) of 2008 calculates that only 11 cents of every dollar actually goes to aid because of wide scale corruption–a great disappointment for the Iraqi people.

Regrettably, in Iraq, as in many other countries in the Middle East and South Asia, the bulk of foreign assistance is military-based. Military aid encourages developing countries to depend on weapons to achieve security. Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey receive the lion's share of US foreign assistance, mostly for defense contracts that ultimately benefit US companies and dull the sensitivity of the recipients to peace and reconciliation. Israel and Egypt alone consume over half of the US foreign aid budget.


In absolute volume–over $25 to $30 billion dollars annually–America spends more than any other country in foreign aid. Despite the impressive quantity, however, American aid is scant in relation to its national wealth. America donates about 0.016 of its gross national product, according to Robert McMahon at the Council on Foreign Relations but, according to international standards, every donor country is expected to spend about 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product.


Over the past decade, though–especially in light of 9/11–the United States has realized that the status quo must change. As a result, there has been serious progress reforming the process of American foreign aid delivery. New literature on state building, such as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's foreign and humanitarian aid expert Thomas Carother's Aiding Democracy Abroad, has challenged the dominance of politics in foreign aid. Think tanks and economists that favor trade and foreign investment as strategic methods for wealth building and poverty reduction argue that foreign aid is of no real long-term value to donor or recipient countries. Development experts are also speaking up about the need to improve the level and effectiveness of humanitarian aid while improving other avenues of development.

The new US approach to foreign aid parts with the practice of linking help, first and foremost, to US "strategic" needs, which often translates to rewarding autocratic regimes with humanitarian or military assistance for political compliance.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government agency that started in 2003 under the George W. Bush Administration, ties massive foreign aid that comes from tax dollars to the competitive performance of the recipient country. Only countries that invest in human development, respect the rule of law and exercise free market principles are eligible to receive large government grants in human investment.

The popularity of the MCC has increased US commitment to development and improved the quality of empowerment initiatives. Reform-oriented countries like Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Morocco, Jordan, Malaysia and Indonesia are among the Muslim-majority countries which have received MCC support or are expected to be awarded large US grants in the future.


While America tries to improve its image in the Muslim world, it is slowly realizing that providing aid for programs that will benefit a country's people, not just the state, can help immensely.

Extricating the United States' development-oriented assistance fully from its strategic political and military objectives will take time, but US investment in agencies like the MCC–and the countries it benefits–demonstrates that it is on the right track.



This article is part of a series analyzing Western policies in the Muslim world written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews). Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 29 September 2009, www.commongroundnews.org Copyright permission is granted for publication.



The uprising in Iran will live


[East Meredith New York July 4 2009]

The struggle will continue in the Iran. This great country is on a political fault line, and its people know it.

The wise words of Khaled Mohammad Khaled, an Islamist scholar, are relevant to the current Iranian crisis: “Mixing religion in the affairs of the state detracts from religion and from the state”.  

Liberation comes in stages. Iran needs ample time to radically change its political system. The Iranian uprising is strong enough today, but the state is bent on breaking the bones of those who challenge its legitimacy.  

Despite the strong desire for change, Iranian society is still split between the populist and the modernist.  

The populist, who President Ahmadinejad represents, is poorly educated, extra-nationalistic and anti-Western. The populist is still hypnotized by the Khomeini power that emerged through the revolt against the regime of the pro-Western Shah.  

The modernist Iranian is open-minded, globally oriented and gender sensitive. The modernist is politically awakened but not yet organized and sufficiently inclusive. The uprising should find attractive ways to draw in the rural and low income groups to join the national struggle for modern state building. 

Women power in this modernist group is growing rapidly, and in this gender empowerment, there is great potential for a sweeping socio-political movement. 

Public protest requires sustained organization. There seems to be no strategic vision, no party, no identifiable social movement and no structure behind the activism in the street. It is heartening to observe that women of Iran are in the process of figuring out the relevance of political power in building democracy and in reclaiming Islam, as a faith rather than a political ideology. 

The revolt lacks a forceful leader. To be fair, the former Prime Minister, Mir Hussein Musavi has an impressive record. But his critics describe Musavi as a born-again bureaucrat, who conveniently ran on a “change” message at a time when people are yearning for relief from a dysfunctional political system. Musavi has not yet identified a vision, a forceful message for the uprising beyond “moderation” and smart economic investment.  

Leadership vacuum may allow covert foreign meddling to penetrate the current Iranian uprising. The 1979 revolution was diverted from a struggle against the neo-colonial rule of the Shah. The revolution went through rapid metamorphoses to unfortunately become a struggle against modernity, with a religious cover.  Religious leaders took over the revolution from the intellectuals.  

There is a lesson to be learned. To preserve the Persian authenticity of the struggle, the leaders of this uprising should keep a distance from Western “democracy experts”, for many reasons, not the least of which the presence of a dismal record of foreign intervention in Iran. 

For the next round of revolt, women and working class leadership will hopefully take center stage. It is only a matter of a few years before the sweeping round of revolt will come.



A new chapter for political Islam in Iran


[East Meredith New York June 19 2009]


Today, the people of Iran are on the street not just to protest the results of the elections. The revolt is deeper and wider in scope; it is aimed at freeing their society from the authority of clerics in politics.

A note of clarification is due. This phase of the Iranian revolution is not aimed at separating religion from politics, but at separating the institutions of religion from the institutions of politics. Separating the two systems is not a threat to either system but an act of maintanance and prevention of mutual meddling.

The process of challenging the political system has made a promising start in a few days. It is still too early to predict if the massive protest in the streets will succeed in bringing about a new government. What is clear now is that public trust in the current political system has largely disappeared. System change is coming sooner than had been expected only a few weeks ago.

The Iranian people deserve moral support from the Western world but they are hesitant to ask for such support for good reasons. The growing political and military strength of Iran over the past three decades has made it a country of controversy, both in its regional milieu and in the West.

In the West, Iran is viewed through a security lens. Iran’s relations with revolutionary groups in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, as well as its risky nuclear program, have positioned the Persian state as a strong adversary to Israel and a perceived threat to strategic Western interests.

If there is regime change in Iran, future relations with its adversaries may change significantly. The Arab-Israeli peace process is particularly sensitive to Israel’s future relation with Iran. Hamas and Hezbollah would soften if Iran’s future regime were to be flexible diplomatically.

Despite their social distance from the West, Iranians would like to be viewed differently by the outside world. The people of Iran are proud and bent on self-determination. They have swiftly eliminated colonialism. They have survived intact a long war that was inflicted on them by Iraq, with Western support.

Iran is searching for ways to build a modern state, but not dreaming of a Western model of statehood. It is important not to judge the Iranian struggle for freedom by Western criteria. Iran is a Middle Eastern country with great appreciation for religion. This street revolt in Iran is not swing from the sacred to the secular. Islam, as a faith, as a set of principles to relate to God, like Christianity or Judaism, can be harnessed to work for democracy instead of working against it.

In 1979, the people of Iran revolted against their government to be free from excessive international influence, the Shah’s symbiotic dependence on the West. Today, Iranians are on the street in massive numbers demonstrating peacefully against their government; they are continuing the process of state building.

What is happening in Iran has wide international implications. Iran is a pioneer in political change. By contrast, the Arab world is too timid in political reform.

To what extent is Iran opening the way to political awakening for other countries in the Middle East? Is there a simple explanation for Arab political passivity in contrast to Persian activism? Is it because the opposition in Iran is the solution, whereas in the Arab world, the opposition is the problem? Are Arabs afraid to substitute despotic for radical regimes?

There may be other explanations for Iran’s propensity in risk-taking in political change. As a nation, Iran is strong; it is ancient and relatively homogeneous. Society can afford to experiment with state building without the threat of breaking up into ethnic or sectarian factions.

What is happening in Iran these days may have dramatic implications for the future of governance of Iran, itself, and for the debate on political Islam, in the 57 Muslim-majority countries.


One-state solution requires a shared state of mind


[Palm Beach Gardens FL Feb 17 2009]


In the future Israelis and Palestinians may find it natural to live together in a single, integrated and democratic state. However, planning for a one-state solution unilaterally is bound to be risky, if not deadly.

But as hope for reaching a two-state solution erodes, the one-state solution emerges as an attractive alternative. The problem is that each side of the conflict has its own version of the one-state solution. While the Israeli version aims at canceling a viable Palestinian state, the Palestinian version aims at canceling Israel, as a Jewish state.

Consider the covert Israeli version first. In an Israeli one-state solution, Arabs would be forced to leave Israel through war or increased socioeconomic pressure. The continuation of the Israeli occupation is bound to lead to the natural termination of the Palestinian state. Increased annexation of Palestinian territory would leave no room for the creation of a separate and viable Palestinian state.

But wiping out nations is not so simple. Palestinians are not leaving their land. For many Palestinians, the opposite of what Israel intends to take place is happening.

In a parallel version of the Israeli one-state solution, Palestinians would populate the area, which is currently under Israeli rule, to the point of demographically dominating the Jewish population, and subsequently achieve power transfer.

On the tenth of February Israelis may have advanced the popularity of a one-state solution by voting massively for Avigdor Leiberman, the head of Ysrael Beiteinu party. Beiteinu won 15 parliamentary seats, thus becoming the third most popular party. In addition to the secular Beiteinu, there are some extreme religious groups that support the one-state idea.

For Lieberman and his followers, Israel’s survival requires the departure of disgruntled Arabs from the Holy Land. This far-right constituency feels threatened by the presence of over one million Arab (Palestinian) Israeli citizens and by four million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israeli ultranationalists believe that Arab Israeli citizens who oppose Israel’s policy should lose their citizenship and be pressured to leave the country. Moreover, such exclusivist groups believe Palestinians who resist the occupation “deserve” to be displaced to Jordan or to Egypt.

But Palestinians are resilient. They retaliate with a mirror-image ideology. The Palestinian version of the one-state solution is well represented by the rejection politics of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas denies the right for Israel to exist and aims to establish a Palestinian state as a substitute for Israel.

Both sides are creating political facts that reinforce the process of exclusion of the other. But it is not fair to equate Israel’s near annexation, or control, of the Palestinian territories with the impact of a resistance movement seeking the liberation of its homeland.

However, the rapid natural growth of the Palestinian population, their resilience in coping with the occupation and the growing popularity of Hamas offers a mirage to some Palestinians in aiming at recapturing the entire land of “historic Palestine”.

A more popular and explicit form of the Palestinian one-state idea, shared by a tiny minority of Israelis, is secular in nature. In this second form, a one-state scenario would be a product of uniting “Israel proper” and “Palestine” in a single, bi-national state, voluntarily, a la post-apartheid South African model.

Whereas, Hamas plans to reach the future Palestinian state through force, advocates of the secular version call for an egalitarian one-state solution through a negotiated peace process. This integrative solution demands forgiveness and reconciliation from both sides.

In fact, all groups who call for a one-state solution dress up their aspiration-scenarios with diplomatic and moral language. The Israeli one-state scenario defends the idea of exclusion of Arabs from Israel as a measure for protecting the Jewish character of Israel. Hamas defends the idea of creating a Palestinian state in which Muslims, Christians and Jews would live as equal citizens in an “Islamic” state. The Palestinian secular one-state offers a reconciliatory, albeit theoretical, solution through political integration of the two peoples in one country.

Regardless of the rationale for the one-state solution, its key for success is missing: agreement on the solution, and on steps to reach it, by both sides of the conflict. Has the point been made against the feasibility of the one-state solution?

The two-state solution is not yet dead. Palestinians and Israelis have a record of convergence on many aspects of the two-state solution. What is needed to make the two-state solution a reality is the elimination of the fear factor of the other. Currently the confidence in any solution is low. The international community should intervene to push the two-state solution before land annexation becomes irreversible. Continued conflict allows the forced, one-sided, one-state solution to emerge as the settlement of choice.

The one-state solution must never become a dream for one side and a nightmare for the other. A one-state solution requires a shared state of mind.



Obama will soon have to deal with Netanyahu


[Palm Beach Gardens FL Feb 6 2009]


Next week, on February 10, the national legislative Israeli elections are expected to return Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party to power. A Likud-led government is bent on dictating the terms of peace to the Arab states. By electing a hard line regime, the Israelis reflect a position of unusual comfort with a tense political status quo. Israel prefers to maintain the occupation than to make a complete withdrawal from Arab land.

In 2002, twenty-two Arab states offered a reasonable peace deal to Israel: withdrawal from 1967 occupied territories in return for peace with the Arab world and normalization of relations. The Bush Administration and Tel- Aviv ignored this historic Arab concession.

Now the Obama Administration is considering the 2002 Saudi-initiated plan as a framework for reinvigorating the peace process. On peace, Israel is moving in the opposite direction from the American Administration, but not from the Israeli-centric American public sentiment. Most Americans regard Israel as a victim and Arabs as the aggressor. Every Palestinian suicidal act and every Hamas rocket reinforces this American view.

The Likud and its partners -on the extreme right- face sobering Palestinian realities: population growth, hardening resistance and the growing popularity of the one-state solution (more later on the one-state solution).

Palestinian demography

Under Israeli authority or control, 5.4 million Jews and 5.2 million Palestinians live. In the two global Diasporas, there are 7.7 million Jews and 5.2 Palestinians. Many in the Diaspora believe they have the right to live in the land of ancestry, “Israel” or “Palestine”.

Fast forward five years, the 5.2 Palestinians, under Israeli rule or control, through population growth, will be the majority. Fast forward ten years, Palestinians will be a strong majority.

Changing demography raises questions about shift of political power. How will Israelis react to the natural growth of Palestinians? How will Palestinians use their growing demographic power?

Many friends of Israel urge Tel Aviv to cut a bargain peace deal now: 22% of the land (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) would go to Palestine and 78 % would go to Israel, by withdrawing to 1967 borders.

Resistance and territoriality

Palestinians are glued to their homeland despite an expanding occupation, disunity in their leadership, isolation of Gaza from the West bank, unbearable living conditions, collective punishment, assassination of their leaders, a separation wall and high rate of imprisonment.

Palestinian resilience does not seem to impress the likely future prime Minister of Israel. Netanyahu and his party rely on the myth that Israel will ultimately break down Palestinian will. Not many realize that Palestinian grassroots have greatly matured politically over sixty years of struggle and suffering. When Palestinians are given opportunity to hold elections they do it freely and democratically. Their election of Hamas in 2006 was not a preference of fundamentalism over secular authority; the electoral choice of Hamas was a choice of a solid resistance movement to deal with a harsh and unrelenting occupation. With the same protective instinct, Israelis are about to elect extreme politicians to deal with an imagined Palestinian threat to Jewish survival.

But old and reliable friends of both Palestine and Israel believe that neither Hamas nor an extreme Israeli regime will be able to advance peace.

For the first time in history Palestinians face Israel with equal political strength. The growing empowerment of Palestinians, their growing numbers and the growing support they receive from their immediate neighbors in Lebanon and Syria, from Iran, and from the Arab street, makes them today a formidable challenge to Israel.

But the curve of political learning for Palestinians is not linear. Today, two psycho-social factors handicap Palestinian power: lack of confidence in political strength and lack of experience with civic resistance. If Palestinians unite on a peaceful struggle platform they will gain the political edge over Israel within two to three years. Regrettably, many Palestinians continue to confuse organized civic political mobilization with passive resistance.

One state solution

Balance of power has generated new ideas about “solutions”, ideas which look reasonable to one side and threatening to the other. Impatience with land-for-peace solutions has excited both Palestinian and Israeli imagination. Each side is pondering novel alternatives to the most pragmatic scenario, the two-state solution.

Over the last three years Palestinians have overtly advocated a political solution through integration of Palestine into Israel in one country. Palestinians argue powerfully: Israel has managed to fragment the West Bank irreversibly through massive settlements, a wall and limitless checkpoints. There is no way to reverse the occupation and create a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. Forger about borders and give us our human rights as equal citizens with Israelis.

On the other hand, Israelis covertly entertain their own one-state solution through integration of Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza into Jordan and Egypt, respectively. Israelis argue with passion: There is plenty of Arab land outside Israel; Palestinians would fit better in Arabia. When Palestinians separate from Israel, the Jewish state, will achieve security.

The two contrasting “solutions” are attractive but they are unrealistic. Real piece is achieved when both sides are ready to support a plan of common ground.

Ironically, the one-state solution is sending messages of moderation to the other side. The Israeli one-state solution alerts Palestinians that if they unite they would make it impossible for Israel to force them to leave or to unite with Jordan. Similarly, the Palestinian one-state solution alerts Israelis to stop foot-dragging on withdrawal from the territories.

The Obama Administration and the anticipated Netanyahu regime would not be on the same wave length politically. But the extent of political difference between Washington and Tel-Aviv remains minimal. If the Palestinians manage to unite on a peace platform, the Obama Administration will be strengthened dramatically in pressuring Israel to accept the Arab peace plan. If Palestinians could find a way to cooperate with Washington, the Netanyahu conservative coalition will either cooperate with a US proposed peace plan or loose power to a more accommodating Israeli government.




International community must stop Gaza war


[Palm Beach Gardens FL Jan 6 2009]


The international community should immediately intervene in Gaza and end this war. It is imposing an intolerable price on civilians, killing more than 500, many of them innocent children, injuring 2,700 people and making daily life, which was already dire, all but impossible.

The images of this immense suffering gravely alarm the Arab and Muslim world, inciting hatred against Israel — and by extension, against its defender, the United States.

Hamas’s rocket shelling of Israeli citizens is also morally indefensible, useless and provocative. There are much better ways to resist the oppressive Israeli siege of Gaza and the wider occupation.

For Israel, going after Hamas militarily is counterproductive, even in the short to medium term. Being a grassroots movement, Hamas is extremely resilient. It has the potential to regenerate its political muscle, no matter the damage it suffers. Regardless of how regressively Hamas — formally known as the Islamic Religious Movement — governs or how unrealistic its rejection of Israel is, Palestinians are rallying around it because of Israel’s aggression.

Hamas won a democratic Palestinian election in January 2006. After achieving the electoral right to govern all Palestinian territories, Hamas was unfairly ostracized and undermined by Israel, the United States and the European Union. When Hamas was denied access to political power, more Palestinians identified with it, in defiance of external intervention.

When the United States and the EU imposed an embargo on Gaza, more Palestinians rallied to the side of Hamas. In its autocratic rule over Gaza, Hamas has nevertheless shown discipline and offered social services and provided local security. Hamas’s rival party, Fatah, and its leaders in the Palestinian Authority, rule the West Bank as a separate entity from Gaza with dubious legitimacy bestowed by Israel.

The international community must allow Palestinians to shape the character of their governance. For too long political Islam has been considered a threat to the West and its allied Arab regimes. Trying to protect Arab regimes from political Islam has consistently failed in Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
Muslims will have to discover, through trial and error, without colonial meddling, how to apply their faith in governance.

Reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah is a crucial precondition for negotiating lasting peace with Israel. Will Barack Obama facilitate the reconciliation among Palestinians in a creative way, or will he — like George Bush — try to divide the two? And will Obama restrain Israel from more aggression, or will he reflexively side with Israel, regardless of its cruel policies?

Obama must recognize that war is futile. He must recognize that the siege of Gaza is a form of collective punishment, which violates the Geneva Conventions. He must reconcile the competing Palestinian factions. And he must make Israel safe.

Countenancing this war will not accomplish any of these goals.


Can war be just or it has to be artificially justified?


[Palm Beach Gardens FL Dec 16 2008]

When are wars morally just and when are they (artificially) justified? The literature on just war reveals that war is hard to justify, and it is often ineffective in resolving conflict, even when it is considered just.  

Brian Oren identifies a cluster of six variables which morally justify war: Cause, intention, authority, last resort, probability of success and proportional cost.  For a war to be called just, it has to pass all six criteria. (Brian Oren: Michael Walzer on War and Justice, McGill 2000.) 

Some explanation is in order. First, a just war must have a good cause. Often just wars are waged to combat threats to national security. Second, just wars are based on good intentions: e.g. to rescue people, to prevent genocides or to restore legitimate borders. Third, wars must be explicitly declared and properly authorized. The use of force across borders must respect international law of state sovereignty. Within the borders of a free nation only the state is authorized to use force. Under colonial occupation, liberation movements have the right to armed struggle. Fourth, wars should be measures of last resort to allow peaceful means of resolving conflict. Fifth, wars must be avoided if the prospects of their success are slim. Lastly, the cost of war should not be disproportional to the outcome of military intervention. 

To show how difficult it is to justify war, I have examined 12 (mostly  Middle-East) wars, and classified them into two neat categories of “just” and “unjust”.

Criteria Just Wars Unjust Wars
Just cause Afghanistan Second war on Iraq
Right intention Iraq 1991 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait
Proper authority NATO/Bosnia Turkey's invasion of Cyprus
Last resort UN intervention in Darfur Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon
Likely success South Lebanon liberation Middle East 1967 war
Cost/Result Algerian war of independence Iraq war with Iran

A war can be called unjust for violating a single criterion, but for a war to be considered just it has to pass all six criteria. The following list of wars is considered unjust for these reasons: 

Unjust wars:

  • Cause: The 2003 US War on Iraq was unjust because there were no weapons of mass destruction; in Iraq, there was no connection to Al-Qaeda and global terrorism.

  • Intention:  Saddam rationalized his invasion of Kuwait to deal with Iraq’s financial crisis after the Iran war.

  • Lawful authority: In 1974, Turkish forces launched a surprise attack on a sovereign state, Cyprus. It was Turkey, not the Turkish Cypriot community which declared the war on the Greek Cypriote community.

  • Last resort: Before diplomacy was exhausted in the border hostage crisis, Israel launched a devastating war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

  • Prospects of success: The 1967 Israeli occupation of Arab land did bring a military success but not a solution to Israel’s future security.

  • Result: The Iraq-Iran war of the eighties, which Saddam Hussein started and the West fuelled, exhausted both countries, ended in a stalemate and created immense Muslim distrust of the West.

Just wars

Shifting the discussion from unjust to just wars, in the middle column of the table, consider the US led coalition war in Afghanistan to destroy Ben Laden terrorist training camps and dismantle the Taliban government. When this war was launched it was correctly linked with the 9/11 tragedy and subsequently justified on criteria of cause, intension, authority, last resort, prospects and result. However, after the US led distractive and destructive 2003 war on Iraq, the Talibans regrouped, international support for US efforts weakened and the Muslim world became less motivated to participate in the international war on terror. There are now alternative theories on how to deal with the conflict in Afghanistan. Increasingly, the resolution of the conflict looks political rather than military. This war started as just but it is losing its legitimacy.  

Next, consider the first Gulf war of 1991, in which an international coalition invaded Iraq. This war is considered just on cause (Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait), intention (respect of state sovereignty), authority (world-wide coalition) and last resort (diplomacy preceded intervention). However, this war is weak on the criteria of success (a second Gulf war followed) and result (high Iraqi casualties, immense environmental degradation and growing political discord). 

The verdicts on Darfur and Bosnia are still undecided.  The last two wars on my “just” list were liberation from colonial occupation. Led by Hezbollah, the armed struggle in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s forced Israel to withdraw from south Lebanon in 2000.  With a heavy human toll (1.5 million Algerians and 27000 French soldiers) the Algerian war of independence liberated the country from France in the 1950’s and early sixties. 

The scholars who worked out the theory of just war were morally demanding. Few wars meet all six criteria of justice. But the real challenge for making wars work well for humanity goes beyond meeting the moral criteria.  

It is true that going to war requires a just cause, a noble intension, an authorized force, exhausted diplomacy, good outcome and limited cost; however, just war can take you only a limited distance in conflict resolution. 

However, making war to resolve conflict effectively, one has to think of dealing with root causes. War can not reduce world poverty, generate jobs for millions of youth, level opportunities among nations, protect the environment or reduce population pressures.  

Just war theory is limited because it is just about war. For centuries the world has lived under a war-fixated paradigm of conflict resolution. Today we understand better the connection between social, economic and political problems. Our approach to conflict resolution must reflect the complexity of social causation. 

War may be necessary in rare cases; but it is often not sufficient to restore social order in a “flat, hot and crowded” world, to borrow a phrase from Thomas Friedman. In an absolute sense, war can never be just, but it can be justified. 

Globally, the day has not come yet to stop venerating war and its champions. I dream: fast forward a century, war, like slavery, would be abolished.



A dream: Obama a Catalyst for Peace


[Palm Beach Gardens FL Oct 24 2008]

This week in Israel, cabinet negotiations have been as volatile as the fluctuations on Wall Street. In the next few days, attempts to form a new Israeli cabinet could shatter the dreams of millions of Middle Easterners who long for peace.  

The current moderate Kadima leadership is seen as serious about peace with Arabs. But if the Kadima party fails to form a cabinet and new elections are called, the ultraconservative Benjamin Netanyahu may well become the next Prime Minister.  

This impending, nightmare scenario is somewhat offset by other, powerful forces of peace that hang on the positive force for peace that an Obama win would usher in. 

In the past few weeks, three separate political developments have made me hopeful that a Barack Obama victory will build momentum for peace in the Middle East. 

The first development is the steady rise in Obama’s poll ratings indicating that Americans are looking for the kind of change that he promises. The second event has occurred in Israel. Sensing Obama’s likely election, prominent leaders in Tel Aviv have expressed serious willingness to reconsider the six-year old Arab peace proposal. Prime Minister Olmert spoke candidly on September 29, and Defense Minister Barak did the same on October 19. Both leaders offered surprisingly conciliatory public statements to the Arab world. The third development is in the form of good news for Obama from nations around the world . Polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of nations prefer the Illinois Senator to be in the White House. In sum, Barack is now the candidate of change domestically, he is in demand for conflict resolution in the Middle East, and he is a political star abroad.

A new era of diplomacy might start with a pivotal change in Washington leadership.

I see signs of hope for a transformed philosophy of US foreign relations.

My dream for Middle East peace develops. Events unfold as follows.

In response to an Obama victory, the world community is reminded that America’s best tendencies are self correction, assimilation of minorities and appreciation of diversity.  Voices of cooperation in international relations come from near and far to a country that is taking risks for the promise of change.

Through Obama, a new America talks the language of partnership and empowerment and abandons the language of patronage. This new America starts planning for withdrawal from Iraq in close coordination with Europe and Iraq’s neighbors.

A breakthrough in Arab-Israeli conflict is achieved through the engaged leadership of Obama. His record indicates clear passion for peace in the Middle East. The new US president has direct influence on Israeli cabinet formation because the security of the Jewish state is tied to American support.  An alliance of moderate parties with a peace agenda emerges to form a new government.  Anticipating the victory of the Democrats, this new Israeli government accepts the basic tenants of an Arab-endorsed Saudi peace plan, albeit with some reservations.

In my political dream, conditions are good for exchange of land for peace: Washington mobilizes its resources for international cooperation; Tel Aviv bravely faces the urgency for a major land compromise; Arab regimes assume the full implications of normalization with Israel. A Palestinian state is established with agreement on the three most important issues of land/settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. 

Withdrawal from the occupied territories is near total. A consolidated part of the Jewish settlements is preserved, allowing for minor adjustments to 1967 borders. Land lost from the West Bank to Israeli settlements is compensated with comparable Israeli land transferred to Palestinians, thus allowing Gaza to better connect with the West Bank. Israel returns the Golan Heights to Syria with border security between the two countries assured through an international peace force. 

The Palestinian refugee issue is creatively solved by return of some Palestinians to their new state and by compensating all needy Palestinians with massive social and economic empowerment programs. But money is not enough to redress injustice. Israel acknowledges its moral responsibility for causing immense suffering to Palestinian refugees. Arab states acknowledge their exploiting the issue of Palestine to defend their excessive investment in warfare at the expense of human investment in displaced Palestinians and in their own societies. A long-term Palestinian compensation package of scholarships, job training, adequate housing and nation-building projects is funded by Arab oil revenues and by Israeli-US-Europe commitments.  

Softly partitioned, Jerusalem is the shared capital of Israel and future Palestine, with the East (Arab) side and the West (Israeli) remaining integrated. Access to religious sites remains free to all. 

Allow me to continue my dream.  

Israel is offered full diplomatic relations with twenty-two Arab countries. Israelis and Arabs are invited to invest in each others countries. Regional water projects are activated.  

Under an Obama administration, the psychology of national security in the Middle East changes from a zero-sum game to a win-win game.  Jews no longer have to think of gaining security through engineering Arab insecurity; Arabs no longer have to consider Israel’s prosperity as the primary source of their misery.

In this dream I have mixed facts with wishful thinking to make a point: the parameters of the Arab-Israeli conflict are known; what is missing is the political climate for conflict resolution. Obama could be a catalyst for this favorable climate.



The license to target Islam


[East Meredith, New York Sep 8 2008]


The late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s comment about the “impersonal” God of Islam is a dramatic example of televangelical deviation from ethics of interfaith dialogue. Pope Benedict’s unfortunate lecture on Islam and reason illustrates the characteristically condescending stance of the church on the faith of Mohammad. President Bush’s “Axis-of-Evil “framework” on his “war on terrorism” exemplifies misuse of moral analysis in political discourse.

At anytime, without fear of public sanction, any loud politician in the Western world, any ambitious television anchor or any theatrical evangelical pastor, can launch an attack on Islam, as a religion, or as a community. Today, Western media have license to attack Islam and Muslims. Media vulgarity towards Muslims is manifested in careless, crass, phobic and obsessive reporting on Arabs, Muslims and Islam.

In sharp contrast, when a celebrity commits a racial slur or jab on the Black community, retribution hell breaks loose. The media pickup the story, plays it ad nausea, rightly embarrassing the offender and often compelling his or her job resignation. Similarly, when a reporter or a celebrity makes an anti-Semitic slip or jab, the offender is severely reprimanded in public.

A cartoon, a televised feature or a film venomously targeting Muslims is justified as “freedom of expression.” The right to hatefully target certain groups but not others is accepted in the free world. Should not there be a uniform standard in public sanctioning of hate speech?

Endless repetition of hostile and often unjustified criticism is morally reprehensible. Moreover, the public hammering that Muslims receive in the West builds up societal paranoia of “alien” groups in our society.

Here is a sociological hypothesis which could explain the inconsistent sanctioning of public expression of hostility toward minority groups. The greater the social distance from mainline society to a specific minority group, the more the media is free to harass it. The insensitivity of Western media to Muslim pain is growing as political relations worsen between the Muslim world and the West.

Hate speech aimed at Muslims can be grouped into three themes: obsession with national security, spurious political judgment and cultural prejudice. These themes range in subtlety from the simple questioning of the “Islamic demographic bulge” to outright demonizing.


In a 2006 interview, Glenn Beck, CNN host of a talkshow, looked our Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison straight in the eye and said: “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” Where does Beck get his license to humiliate anybody connected with Islam?

Islamophobia is pervasive in US public forums. Provocative commentary websites, culture-clash literature, biased reporting on the Middle East, end-of-time theological fiction, insensitive cartoons, terror oriented video games and Christian Zionist sermons, all of the above and more, make many Arab and Muslim Americans- especially immigrants- feel alien, if not alienated.

Beck’s obsession with Islam reflects a trend. The Media persist in reporting on the growing numbers of US and European Muslims. These reports raise unjustified public fear of anticipated return of terrorism. Post 9/11 hyper vigilantes proclaim that American borders are “open and unprotected”. Agitated US communicators warn citizens to watch out for Muslim and Arab Americans who may be linked covertly to “terror cells” penetrating the homeland.

Irrational fear of Muslims affects the way they are portrayed and perceived. A negative overload of information about Islam seems to overwhelm and confuse Americans. The compulsion to stereotype, to dissect, to classify, to figure out and to caricature Muslims is strong and growing.

Despite the avalanche of media output on Islam, there is a better way to meet its followers. Muslim Americans want their neighbors to learn out about their faith in the simplest way, through firsthand experience; a conversation over a cup of coffee would do it, an exchange interfaith visit would help. What I and others learned about Muslim Americans through exchange visits in our church community in Florida was informative, refreshing and encouraging.

Of the six million Muslim Americans, three million are Arabs. Half of the Arabs in America are Christian. A sizable minority of the US Muslim community is African-American. Muslims come to America from many nations and have varied political opinions on domestic and international issues. There is not a monolithic Arab or Muslim community in America.

There is not a unified or dominant Arab or Muslim American lobby. There are many civic and political tendencies. Muslims resist being on the defensive concerning their fidelity to America; they do not wish to prove that they are patriotic and loyal to their country. Muslims of America try their best to be a bridge between their America and their countries of origin.

Bridge-making with home country is not welcomed by alarmed immigration border-control advocates or outright xenophobes. The demographic rise of Muslim Americans provokes culturally narrow minded politicians to call for a tightly restrictive immigration policy. Proponents of hard line policy immigration point the “threat of having too many aliens.” In some circles, the debate has regressed to the level of asking “how many Arab or Muslim immigrants can America tolerate?”

Europeans ask the same question about their Muslim emigrants. But, the situation of Muslims in America is different. The unrest of Muslim youth in Europe is a result of socio-economic factors. The unrest of the Muslim and Arab Europeans is not religiously motivated. Many Muslim emigrants who came to Europe as cheap labor never had the chance to assimilate.

In contrast to Europe, America’s Muslims have assimilated. The typical Arab or Muslim American is your real estate man in Miami, your grocer in Brooklyn, NY, your student in North Virginia, your doctor in Dearborn, Michigan, your teacher in Los Angeles, your plumber in Chicago, your insurance agent in New Jersey and your taxi man in New York.

After 9/11 our fear of Muslim related terrorism has remained steady despite the domestic peace we have had since this nightmare event. Yet, the media keep asking endlessly what if an Islamic terrorist hits this strategic port or that central chemical facility, this government office or that public health facility, this target or that. The recurring message for the American people is to remain on perpetual alert and to be conscious of Muslims.

The response of the Muslim Congressman Ellison to Glenn Beck’s verbal assault expresses the sentiments of all Muslim Americans. Ellison said: “Well, let me tell you, the people of the Fifth Congressional District know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There's no one who is more patriotic than I am. And so, you know, I don't need to -- need to prove my patriotic stripes.”

America could better cultivate the six million Arab and Muslim Americans to re-open channels of diplomacy with 1.3 billion Muslims. Arab and Muslim Americans should not be made to feel responsible for deepening East-West conflict and for the cruelty of politics in their countries of origin.

We seem to be unable to shed our hostility toward Islam as long as we are shocked with oil prices, as long as we feel lost in Iraq, seem overwhelmed in Afghanistan and look helpless in our mediation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We seek refuge in theories of spurious social and religious logic to cover an incoherent foreign policy.

In order to deal with our national guilt for taking war as a primary strategy in resolution of conflict we argue that we are fighting just wars. In two major defensive strategies we rationalize our aggression.

First, we justify our hyperactive military culture through a simplistic theory of “culture clash.” Second, we rationalize our foreign policy in the Middle East with political theology.

The Harvard ideologue, Samuel Huntington, has popularized the culture clash theory that “Islam” and the “West” are two ideologically contrasting civilizations which are doomed to steady confrontation. For Huntington, the key source of conflict between the West and Islam is contrast of values. Huntington’s framework of inevitable conflict with Muslim civilization has been refuted by many scholars. The culture-clash theory has minimum consideration for political variables such as the economic contrast, gender gap, corrupt leadership, poor civic education, lust for resources, hard line diplomacy and minimum intercultural exchange.

The “axis of evil” policy is affected by the culture clash theory. The “clash” theory gives moral comfort to statesmen who are tied to hawkish foreign policy, punitive sanctions, extensive troop presence overseas and massive defense budgets. Culture is often misconceived as political software. But social scientists tell us that culture is about “way of living”, and not about “way of governing”.

Washington’s second strategy of rationalizing aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East is based on a revived church-based Crusader mentality. The Christian Zionists of today resemble the Medieval Crusaders.

This branch of fundamental Christianity ties personal salvation to a belief in the returning Christ, the warrior-savior. Many consider themselves Christian Zionists. They believe that Christ will battle with Muslims in Israel when the world ends. And it will end soon, the fundamentalists warn. This theology predicts that a new era of peace will start after Christ and his soldiers win the battle against Palestinian and other Arab Muslim infidels. In preparation for the return of Jesus, this apocalyptic movement demands unconditional support of Israel.

Ironically, Christian Zionists are not clear on what happens to Jews when Christ returns to end the rule of the non believers. Christian fundamentalists are in a bind to justify their conditional, self serving and temporary love for Jews.

The cult of Christian Zionism has already penetrated American culture. Extreme evangelicals sell personal salvation and colonial, US-supported Israeli policies in one package; they peddle salvation as a life insurance policy.

A war-oriented foreign policy, a xenophobic political theory and a theology recasting Jesus as a Crusader have set America on a dangerous political fault line for generations to come. Of the many policies I reject but easily understand in the political conservative agenda, it is not pro-life thinking, it is not a strict immigration, it is not private health care, and it is not the ascendancy of militarism. What I really worry most about in the extreme right ideology of religious America, is the rejection of the validity of other faiths, the blessing of social injustice when applied to Palestinians and the covert support of wars of choice. Unless we change our foreign policy and the socio- religious rationale that supports it we are destined to clash endlessly in the future with the rest of the world, not only with Muslim societies.



Is Israel one disaster from collapse?


[East Meredith, New York Aug 16 2008]


Israelis are not united in supporting their government’s policies of a four-decade festering occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories. The occupation is costly, morally troubling and beyond the capacity of Israel to maintain. Israelis are relatively free to question the occupation; surprisingly, American politicians, especially politicians who are running for national elections, find it hard to question the occupation. If for nothing else, mere concern for Israel’s future should embolden Americans to be more discerning on issues of the Middle East. An important Carnegie recent study shows that Israel is precariously open to breakdown.

The study implies that tight-lipped Americans need to open their minds to Israel’s vulnerability as an occupier. The heaviest cost of the 1967 occupation of Arab land is the impact on Israel’s national security. Israel receives dire warning in the July- August issue of Foreign Policy magazine in the article “The Failed States Index of 2008.” The Index’s latest results give the Israel/West Bank regime a rank of “borderline” on national security. The Index lists and discusses a long list of vulnerable countries and identifies twelve variables that undermine their national security. According to this ranking tool, the Israel/West Bank regime is among sixty fragile countries that are “just one disaster away” from “collapse.”

Israel has recently joined this club of high risk countries. The Index rates Somalia number 1, as the most insecure country in the world. Iraq ranks 5, Lebanon 18, Syria 35, Egypt 40, and Iran 49. Georgia, this week’s disaster area, ranks 56. The Israel/West Bank regime ranks 58 and falls in the “Borderline” category, after “Critical” and “In Danger”. The study measures each country on twelve risk factors. Israel scored high on 8 out of the 12 risk indicators: demographic pressure, group grievance, uneven-development, delegitimization of state, public service, human rights, factionalized elites and external intervention.

If this diagnostic tool is valid, American foreign policy makers should rethink their Middle East strategy. America’s support for Israel’s Jewish settlement communities in the Occupied Territories has immensely complicated the peace process.

In the same vein, by not applying US pressure on Israel to dismantle the wall of exclusion and an endless network of humiliating checkpoints - in and around the West Bank and East Jerusalem - America is passively condoning the delay of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. This “Berlin” wall, which is a work in progress, makes life unbearable for Palestinians. The wall arouses strong sentiments for revenge among the five million Palestinians who live divided under Israeli rule.
Thanks largely to American unconditional support, Israelis have adapted to an occupation mentality of denial of danger. Israelis today enjoy the safety of their daily-living and their economic prosperity. Their safety and affluence are at the expense of increased political arrest, liquidation of dissidents and reduction of mobility in the occupied territories. But stability of daily living should not be confused with long-term national security.

In the Holy Land today, on both sides of the conflict, the extreme has become the mainstream. Our two presidential candidates who are currently competing to appeal to the Jewish voters should ponder a dangerous dynamic in the Arab-Israeli conflict: As Israel relies on punitive politics, Palestinians rely on militancy.

It is easier for Americans to comment on Palestinian terrorism but not on Israeli excessive retaliation. It is difficult for Americans to view political oppression as a contributing factor to Palestinian terror.

Israeli land annexation is moving parallel to Palestinian demographic expansion, a formula that is leading to system collapse in the future. The signs of political danger are scripted on the wall, but American and Israeli politicians refuse to read the graffiti.



Linking Obama with Islam and Terror is a Double Offense


[East Meredith, New York Jul 19 08]


The cartoon cover page of The New Yorker July 21 issue depicts Obama, the “Muslim”, and his wife the “terrorist.” While the Obama campaign finds the cartoon unfair, Muslims find it pejorative and profane. Muslims wonder: “Is Islam considered a plague in America?”

In this cover cartoon The New Yorker has taken an aggressive editorial step against Obama and against Islam. Obama’s opponents have been trying to ruin his reputation in one media scheme after another. Early in the primaries the alleged problem of Obama was his “shady” real estate dealer, then his “anti-American” pastor, then his Muslim father, then his “mixed” faith, and most recently his “militant” wife.

The significance of Obama’s association with Islam has been artificially manufactured. Psychology 101 comes to mind. Every college student learns how Pavlov trained dogs to salivate when they heard a bell ring. The effect of the bell ringing on salivation is a result of repeated episodes of associating the bell ringing with rewarding the dog with food.

Social psychologists have shown how Pavlovian conditioning is often exploited in both political image making and stereotyping of communities. The effect of repetitive association in conditioning is often the cause of irrational fears, prejudice, racism, and brainwashing. Today, Muslims make perfect targets for provocative American artists, writers and television anchors.

There is a historical background for prejudice against Muslims in the West, and reciprocally for prejudice against Christians in the East. Despite extended periods of interfaith harmony, tense international relations between Islam and the West go back to the seventh century. In modern times, over the last six decades, Muslim societies have been in direct conflict with the Western world, culminating in 9/11. Contemporary conflicts mirror the hatred that the Western Crusaders had for Islamic societies in the eleventh and twelve centuries. In turn, the Crusaders were influenced by the rivalry between Byzantium and the Islamic East starting in the era of rapid Mohammedan expansion.

These age-old animosities make today’s front page news. Following the historical bias and the current political climate, US mass media and power brokers habitually condition Americans to associate Islam with violence and evil. Similarly Arab and Muslim communication agents have conditioned their public to view the West as morally decadent, imperialistic and materialistic.

It is now well known that Barack Hussein Obama, an African American, has some connection with Muslim society - and not with Islam- through his Kenyan father who abandoned the family when Barack was very young. As a young child Barack also lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country. Barack’s secondary school education in Hawaii added to the richness of his international background. Obama’s mixed heritage tempts bigoted opinion makers to project their bias on his public image.

It is also known that Obama is a serious Christian with ecumenical ideas of liberation theology: forgiveness in peace making, sensitivity to social justice and respect for the integrity of creation. His political critics have taken his theological ideas out of context to portray them as anti-American and pro-Muslim.

What his critics miss is that Obama is privileged with a unique constellation of attributes. He had a white mother and a black father. He had a Christian upbringing and varied exposure to Muslim society. He has an American identity and an international background. The popularity of the Afro-component in Obama reflects America’s yearning to move to the final stage of integration of its black minority. The Muslim connection, though remote and largely cultural, gives him the capacity to better address the issues of the third world. And finally, the ecumenical orientation in his Christian faith empowers him to embrace world religions to promote international peace.

Obama’s life record is a rare juxtaposition of fate, personal achievement, cultural diversity and politics. While his opponents try to translate his racial, religious and cultural diversity into a liability, Obama’s supporters promote him as an agent of reform for America.

Back to The New Yorker, Obama’s Cartoon does not qualify as artistic satire. For many it qualifies as hate literature.


Peace? Not in my lifetime.


[Jul 1 08]


“Peace in the Holy Land? Not in my lifetime,” is an opinion I hear too often from my Jewish American friends. Arab Americans have a similar pessimistic view of the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Making peace is a process of commitment. To make a deal one merely needs a client willing to bargain, but to make peace one needs a respectful and responsive partner.

Currently, Arabs and Israeli leaders are trying to make deals on three parallel and separate fronts: Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, Tel-Aviv’s severe siege of Gaza, and prisoner exchange between Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Jewish State.

Middle East politicians may be able to score limited gains in these current negotiations but lasting peace they will not achieve through a fragmented approach. To reach a peace breakthrough, Arabs and Jews need to undergo radical changes in attitude.

Imagine an Arab awakening that prepares visionary statesmen for peace. In such an awakening Arabs would recognize Israel’s fear of being a minority state within an Arab collective of 22 countries. Arabs would pledge not to take revenge if power were to shift in their favor. Rulers would seriously engage in political reform. If this fundamental change were to occur, Israel would then perceive the Arabs as responsive partners for peace.

Imagine a parallel Israeli renewal of orientation. In such a renewal Israelis would acknowledge the consequences of their land occupation and displacement of all people involved. Israelis would fully accept a free, viable and independent Palestinian state. They would assume moral and financial responsibility to compensate Palestinians for their multifaceted suffering. When all these revolutionary changes take place, Israelis will then become an attractive partner for peace with Arabs.

Regrettably, neither side is on the path to peace. Facing desperate conditions, leaders in Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza are gambling over fragmented political solutions that do not require reorientation of policy and remobilization of efforts. Weak leadership does not take risk, make sacrifice or solve fundamental national problems. In seeking relief from Battle-fatigue and political stress Israel and three Arab countries are now engaged in a process of deal-making. On the surface the deal-making looks like peace-making.

What are these three deals that Arabs and Israelis are trying to hammer out?

First, Syria and Israel are talking covertly about peace possibilities if the Golan Heights is returned to Syria. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Strangely, while Israel conducts these talks with Syria it is threatening military intervention in Iran, Syria’s closest ally. But this may not be the best time to revive the Golan issue. Not only is Syria is under US sanctions, not long ago Israel launched a surgical attack on Syrian facilities that it claimed were nuclear. Today is Israel really ready to return the strategic, Golan border-district to Syria after years of integrating the territory in its society.

The second Arab Israeli deal covers the crippling siege of Gaza which is under Hamas rule. Israel has already signed a six-month truce with Hamas, effective June 19. The deal stipulates that Hamas will stop shelling rockets into border towns in Israel. In return, Israel will gradually lift the siege on Gaza. Hamas agrees to reign-in the shelling from other Palestinian factions and Israel stops its assassination campaign of resistance leaders. The chemistry of this deal has been sour from the start. Ehud Olmert accuses leaders in Gaza of being “blood-thirsty terrorists”. And Hamas reciprocates by refusing to recognize the existence of Israel. Despite the rhetorical denial of the state of Israel, Hamas pleads with Egypt to mediate. It desperately seeks Cairo’s intervention to terminate the Israeli siege on the strip. Both sides are trapped. For Israel, the siege policy has not worked to break the will of Hamas. Consequently, Israel seems to be rethinking its failed policy of brutally forcing political change.

The third parallel and separate deal relates to Lebanon. Israel is negotiating with Hezbollah a prisoner exchange. At the same time, Israel has invited Beirut government to direct bilateral peace talks. But Lebanon today is stressed and fragile; it cannot be a norm breaker. Individual Arab states consider unconditional direct talks with Tel-Aviv a taboo. Israel wishes to make deal with Hezbollah, an organization it has considered a criminal agent. Is Tel-Aviv willing to swap prisoners with Hezbollah after launching a war two years ago that tried to obliterate this resistance movement, a war that is sadly still considered unfinished?

The prognosis of these three separate, parallel and hesitant rounds of peace talks is poor. The difference between peace making and deal making is in attitude and process. In the search for peace the actors are respectful of one another and their efforts are relevant, genuine, timely and coordinated.

To achieve lasting peace Arabs and Israelis must look each other in the eye and start direct, coordinated and comprehensive negotiations. The two sides will reach productive exchange of ideas on their interlinked future when they recognize mutual concerns and imagine relevant and decisive solutions.

“Not in my life time”.






Ghassan Michel Rubeiz




Dr. Ghassan Michel Rubeiz is a Lebanese-American Middle East analyst with special interest in political sociology, social justice and democracy. He is a former professor of social work and psychology.

He was Secretary of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches for the Middle East during the eighties and early nineties. He also served Eastern Europe for six years from the Geneva office of Christian Children’s Fund. Between 2000 and 2005, he was the Washington Liaison Director of CCF. He is now focused on public speaking and writing on the Middle East.

Over the last five years, he has contributed a series of articles to the Christian Science Monitor online edition, the Lebanese Daily Star and the Arab American News.

Currently, Rubeiz is writing regularly from his home office in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. His special interest is in politics and religion and in promotion of Arab American understanding.

Keep up with Ghassan on his personal blog.




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