Muqtedar Khan's Column on Global Affairs

  GlocalEye is an analytical column on global affairs. 
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Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan.  He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought,  from Georgetown University in May 2000.

Dr. Khan's column has appeared in The Daily Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Muslim Democrat,,,,, MiddleEast Online,, Arabies Trends, Al-Mustaqbal, and many other periodicals world wide.

For a comprehensive resume click here
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 Palestinian Militants Make Another Point

Muqtedar Khan
Published Tuesday June 05, 2001

On Friday a Hamas militant struck killing 21 Israelis and injuring nearly a 100 and in the process killing himself.  This attack was one of several that Islamic Jihad and Hamas have launched as part of the new intifada. Yasser Arafat and the international community condemned the attack as cowardly, senseless and counter-productive.

While the attack against young civilians by itself was deplorable, we must recognize that in the region violence has always been rewarded. The Israelis have killed nearly 500 Palestinians in the last eight months and for that they are about to receive an additional $800 million from the US in foreign aid. By inciting Palestinian violence, the hawks in Israeli society have successfully marginalized the doves. Even the staunchest supporters of peace in Israel now wonder if they can ever make peace with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians, Arafat in particular, have also gained from the violence. The last few months as the Palestinian uprising continued, Americans and Israelis have maintained that Palestinians would not achieve anything through violence. The new administration in Washington has repeatedly declared that the violence must stop before any diplomatic steps can be taken.  The Americans not only refused to take any part in initiating peace negotiations but also refused to meet or talk with Arafat.  While the Israelis demanded complete surrender, Americans simply abandoned the Palestinians. Bush met with Peres and Sharon but did not even talk with Arafat.  The American administration demanded that all violence must stop before they would even begin to talk.

But as violence escalated, not only have Bush and Powell returned to cell phone diplomacy with Arafat, Powell is now promising to go to the Middle East to talk with him in person.  Ironically, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, who are opposed to the peace process and Arafat, have once again forced the Israelis and the Americans to turn to Arafat. The violence restores the importance of Arafat to peace in the Middle East.

The violence also sends a very strong message to Israel. Israelis elected Sharon because he promised them a stronger and safer Israel. But since Sharon's election over 100 Israelis have died and the country has been gripped in an escalating war with no imminent end in sight.   Palestinians regularly die at the hands of the Jewish settlers and the Israeli army, even during the most peaceful of conditions. If peace negotiations had continued, many Palestinians would have still died as a result of Israeli occupation. But 100 Israeli casualties is another thing all together. It was the steady stream of casualties caused by Hezbollah that forced Israel to end its occupation of Southern Lebanon.  Islamic Jihad and Hamas are hoping to do the same. They are trying to make the cost of occupation unbearable.

The violence is also forcing Israel and the US to depart from their stated policies and in that sense it is proving productive. Americans are once again forced to recognize the importance of Arafat and they have realized the folly of insulting him by ignoring him. Israelis have realized that electing Sharon was a mistake. He has made them more insecure than ever before. It is not Sharon or US made F-16s but Arafat who can most likely guarantee Israeli security. Both Israel and the US are now appealing to him to take measures to protect Israeli citizens.

As long as violence proves to be productive it will not cease. Israelis were wrong to trust the war mongering Sharon with their futures.  A warlord can only bring war to its people.  Bush and Powell erred by snugly up to the Israelis and cold shouldering Arafat. Now they are forced to reckon with him not because the violence has ceased but because it continues. Israel must stop the settlement building now. It cannot hope to steal land from people continuously without inviting violent resistance.

Israel and the US must realize that they cannot have peace or security by throttling the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians. If you leave them with nothing to live for, you will only encourage them to turn to the militants who promise them martyrdom and paradise in death.

Israelis and Americans must stop making foolish demands of the Palestinians as an excuse to postpone negotiations.  Stop resisting is a silly demand. Why will Israel cease its occupation of Palestine if they stop resisting and allow it to build more and more settlement and enjoy its ill-gotten gains? It is time that Palestinians are given hope and concrete evidence that it is better to live than die. Give them a taste of real freedom and encourage them to make peace. 

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