Never fear to negotiate

Published 4:58 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

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To the Editor:

“Citizens of Israel, we are at war.” This admonishment was given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Hamas recently launched a surprise attack, killing at least 700 Israelis.

As expected, the Israeli military launched retaliatory strikes against Hamas fighters and, by extension, Palestinians. Over 1000 Palestinians have been killed as of Monday, October 9. Such carnage has caused a sense of horripilation among countless spectators from the international community. Where are the interlocutors and peacemakers in the tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, and President Jimmy Carter?

Many people remember the devastation from the Six-Day War in 1967. There were thousands of casualties on both sides of the conflict. By the way, prior to the present Arab-Israeli conflict, there were seven major Arab-Israeli wars: the 1948 Palestine war, the 1956 Suez war, the Six-Day War of 1976, the 1969-70 War of Attrition, the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon war, and the 1991 Gulf war. (Google)

The aforesaid wars share some fundamental issues. Palestinians typically complain about Israeli settlements in territories belonging to the Palestinians. So, land is at the crux of all of the aforementioned wars. Additionally, the PLO, Palestinian Liberation Organization, has impressed upon the international community the principle of self-determination. Besides, what is now known as Israel (the present configuration) was Palestine prior to 1948. The Palestinians are essentially refugees now.

In any event, President Biden is making a tactical blunder in this elaborate chess game involving Palestinians and Israel. He announced his full-fledged support for Israel and offered military weapons and humanitarian assistance.

Biden did not mention the agonies, suffering, and tribulations of the Palestinian people. President Carter and Rev. Jesse Jackson never would have made this mistake.

We should apply lessons learned from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and avoid supporting mass killings of innocent Palestinians and Jews. King would urge constructive dialogue and meaningful concessions from both sides.

Many reminisce on President Carter’s prescient warnings in his enlightening book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. In this book, Carter argues that the primary obstacles to peace in the Middle East are Israel’s construction of settlements and relentless controls of basic necessities to the detriment of the Palestinians.

Last but not least, President Kennedy, on a cold Inaugural day (January 20) in 1961, stated, “So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Keith W. Cooper