Saturday, November 12, 2011

Architect for Peace - Section I - Introduction to Middle East Peace


From a very young age I was interested in politics. My mother was involved in local politics and through her, I received an excellent education on the topic. As I grew older, my best friend Lance and I would have debates and discussions on the topic. The Middle East was our favorite topic by far. Lance would always take the pro-Hawkish Israeli standpoint and I would be the defender of the Palestinians.

We would discuss every article we had read and every TV show on the topic. I would consider us both experts on the Middle East from all viewpoints – History, culture, warfare, economics, real estate, etc. But given the enormity of the issue, I expect to discover new data every single day.

I always wanted to write a book on the Middle East struggle, but I never had the time to do it. It was much more interesting to actually discuss the subject – than to sit down and write something. 

My attitude changed with the death of my best friend. No longer did I have an equal and mentor to discuss ideas with.  Lance would have pushed me to finish this book, so I am doing it for him.



My best friend Lance Reinhardt always had a keen eye on world events. He was well informed and very open to discussion and debate. His keen insights into the Middle East were invaluable to this author and this book. He was a brilliant man who I will miss very much. Rest in peace Lance.

My mother impressed upon me at an early age the structure of our government including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Her viewpoints into politics and her experience helped to temper my own views. Love you Mom!

There were many teachers and professors along the way that contributed to my education in History and International Relations. I would like to single out a Dr. Claypoole who was my professor at Oakland Community College in the early 80's. His teaching style and willingness to help the student was top rate. I remember he always managed to find a few points to take off my tests (the life of a curve-breaker?).



Bill, Yitzhak and Yasser at the White House (
Most of us remember the Last Best chance for peace in the Middle East. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel and Yasser Arafat Chairman of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) were at Camp David – and they were shaking hands! It seemed that peace was so close you could taste it! Both sides were talking (and compromising) and making tangible progress.

The final proposal gave the Palestinians up to 95% of the pre-1967 West Bank, and Israel was ready to cede even more territory in the Negev desert. Barak had gone further than most Israelis were comfortable with – but there was support to get the deal done.

It was then that Arafat stopped negotiating. He told Clinton “The Arab leader who would surrender Jerusalem is not born yet.” He also brought up The Right of Return issue – where Palestinians that left (or were driven from)  their homes in what is Israel today, should be allowed to return to those (same) homes.

From the “West” point of view, Arafat ruined everything. He was vilified in the press and world leaders gave up trying to work with him. He was even criticized by his own negotiating team (Nabil Amr) – but he had had enough and dug in his heels.

Things went downhill from there. Israeli elections, renewed suicide bombings and a second intifada stopped all hope for a peace deal.

But let me say this: Arafat was right. It takes guts to stand up to the world – and take all the criticism (even from His own people). He had higher ideals that could not be compromised.

Trying to address Arafat’s requirements makes the peace process much more difficult. There are millions of Palestinians around the world – they probably won’t all fit (physically) in the West Bank. The problem of where to settle them all is so big that no one wants to address it – so it gets ignored in negotiations.

The other elephant in the room is Jerusalem. Splitting a city up makes it difficult to govern – but something must be done or there will be no peace.

I wrote this book from the Palestinian perspective. They must be completely satisfied with any peace deal – because they have to live with it forever. Palestinian interests will always be considered first. This does not mean that I am in any way anti-Israeli. I promise to correct any of my statements that are considered anti-Semitic.

There is but a single goal for this book and that is a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Further, this peace must endure. I only wish that I could have had this book finished 20 years ago. Then maybe we could have had Arafat’s signature instead of just his handshake.

This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure – Winston Churchill

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