Israeli actions are not conducive to progress

In the quagmire that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are no winners, and neither side can claim to always be in the right. Anyone who believes in absolute right and wrong in the situation is deluded or extremely biased.

That said, Israel recently increased worldwide tension when it fired missiles into Syria, and created an obstacle to free society unparalleled in this conflict when it started its concrete curtain. The attack was reckless and the wall lacks foresight and determination. Both actions show Israel’s inability to maintain progress toward peace whenever setbacks occur.

Peace will require courageous decisions from all involved. Syria cannot claim to be an innocent bystander in the matter; the attacked areas were alleged training grounds for Islamic groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, whose actions are deplorable. Arab authorities must regain control of these factions. Nonetheless, given the current situation, Israel should not have unilaterally escalated tensions by extending the conflict into another sovereign state. Furthermore, Israel did not even give sufficient warning of their intentions to either Syria or the United States, Israel’s largest ally.

This month the Israeli parliament voted to extend the 25-foot-high security wall. The concrete structure is marked by barbed wire and guard towers. Israel intends to make it several hundred miles long, cutting right through Palestinian communities.

Building a wall reminiscent of the Berlin Wall is wrong. Freedom of movement is a basic right that law-abiding citizens in today’s global society should expect. The wall is a foolhardy attempt to keep terrorists out of Israeli territory that will fail given local realities. It will further inhibit innocent people on both sides from living as close to a normal life as possible, although this might be exactly what the Sharon regime wants.

Any government who cannot treat people with respect and accord them basic human rights cannot demand that others do so.

President George W. Bush should have criticized both the wall and the attack. Instead, his response to the wall was the diplomatic equivalent of a dirty look, which he followed with support for the missile attack. Even if he had been critical, he still would have lacked the credibility to criticize Israel, given his own administration’s actions.

All parties involved in the various Middle East conflicts, including Israel, Palestine, Syria and the United States, must step back, realize and acknowledge how far off track we are, and redirect the situation in a productive direction.