A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|from AMJ: sen hagel op-ed|
|07/21/02 at 21:04:00|
|a message i received from american muslims for jerusalem:|
In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
AMERICAN MUSLIMS FOR JERUSALEM
Thank Senator Hagel for Washington Post Op-ed "We Shouldn't Make
Arafat the Issue"
The following op-ed, written by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), appeared in the
Washington Post this Friday July 19th. It is a balanced piece that criticizes the
demand for a change in Palestinian leadership and urges a focus on the core issues
of occupation and settlements. Please take a minute to call or email Senator Hagel
and thank him. Also consider sending a copy of the piece to your own Senators and
Representatives and encouraging them to echo Senator Hagel's words.
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
United States Senate
248 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
To send the Senator an email visit: http://hagel.senate.gov/email/contact.html
We Shouldn't Make Arafat the Issue
By Chuck Hagel
Friday, July 19, 2002; Page A27
The most powerful force for the future of the Middle East is the next generation of
Arabs and Muslims. America cannot afford to stand by and allow these young people
to grow up hating us. Nor can Israel.
We are now faced with a unique moment to reach out to this generation and build a
future with them. That is perhaps the surest thing America can do to help provide a
secure future for Israel and hope for the Palestinian people. To do this, the United
States must avoid policies that isolate us in the world community. We face both
opportunity and risk, but there is no other option.
Young Palestinians need to see their future in a peaceful, fully functioning state
with economic opportunities and democratic institutions. If they do not, and instead
see violence and destruction as the only way forward, the long-term consequences
will be great. We could lose the next generation of Arab and Muslim youth and the
future of the Middle East to radical politics and anti-Americanism.
Such a development would destabilize our allies, including Israel, and threaten
relationships vital to America's global interests.
This is all the more reason why we cannot hold the Middle East peace process
hostage by making Yasser Arafat the issue. The United States cannot excuse Arafat
for his failings as a leader, his complicity in terrorism, and his inability to make
the tough choices for peace. The Palestinian people and our friends in the Arab
world have paid the price for Arafat's corruption, intrigues and limitations. They
know their future does not lie with Arafat.
But if we are serious about reform in the Palestinian Authority, then we must
allow the Palestinians and the Arabs to deal with Arafat. Credible alternative
Palestinian leadership will not step forward in response to a perceived
American-Israeli demand for Arafat's removal. Change must come from within.
America must understand that the Arab world sees this as a Palestinian identity
issue -- not an Arafat issue. When we allow Arafat to become the issue in the Arab
world, we take away from the Palestinian people and Arab leadership their options
in dealing with Arafat their way. This undercuts reform and further polarizes and
radicalizes Palestinian politics. We give the extremists an issue that we need not
The United States must lead a diplomatic process to break the endless cycle of
violence and get to the end game -- an independent Palestinian state and security
for Israel. We cannot wait until Palestine is a full-blown Jeffersonian democracy
before getting on with a peace process.
Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace. This does not mean giving
up or limiting its right to self-defense against terrorism. But Palestinian
reformers cannot promote a democratic agenda for change while both the Israeli
military occupation and settlement activity continue.
The international and regional constellation is with us. The program of the
"Quartet" (United States, European Union, Russia and the U.N.) and the Arab
League peace plan provide the context for a new consensus on Arab-Israeli peace.
Our objectives need to be clear and firm, with the diplomatic flexibility to
America's efforts toward peace and reform in the Middle East must be accompanied
by policies and programs promoting greater political and economic liberalization
in the Arab and Muslim worlds. The proliferation of radical politics stems from
the absence of democratic institutions.
American leadership over the coming weeks and months will help determine the
direction of politics in the Middle East for the next generation. We have an
opportunity to lead the region into a new era of peace and democratic transition.
The task is difficult and complicated, and will remain so. If we falter, or opt out
for whatever reason, the security of the United States and our allies will be
jeopardized for a generation. This is not the kind of world I want my 9-year-old
and 11-year-old to inherit.
The writer is a Republican senator from Nebraska.
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