Later today, I will post video here at TWN from a presentation author and filmmaker Eugene Jarecki made at a meeting I hosted under the auspices of the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program. Jarecki made the homage to Eisenhower film, Why We Fight and authored the book, The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril.
One of the things that Jarecki said near the end of the Q&A session in response to a question about the Israel-Gaza war was:
As a son and nephew and grandchild and cousin of those lost in the Holocaust, this is a hard one for me. (pause) But I have to say. . .that I think that Israel through its actions in Gaza is undermining its own project in the Middle East. . .
Jarecki was anguished when he said this — and the moment was powerful, revealing and human. We aren’t seeing enough of that introspection from those who are connected to this conflict and what Aaron David Miller calls “the much too promised land.”
Today’s New York Times has a powerful editorial, the bottom line of which I think is basically an instruction to Israel: “enough already.”
From the Times piece:
We agree that Israel had to defend itself against Hamas’s rocket attacks. But we fear the assault on Gaza has passed the point of diminishing returns. It is time for a cease-fire with Hamas and a return to the peace negotiations that are the only real hope for guaranteeing Israel’s long-term security.
We are encouraged that a cease-fire finally seems to be gaining traction. Although not much detail is known, reports have focused on an Egyptian proposal for a phased-in truce, followed by a pullout of Israeli forces and the reopening of border crossings to ease the economic blockade of Gaza.
The sudden diplomatic activity came as Israel unleashed its heaviest shelling of Gaza neighborhoods, including a hit on a United Nations compound where hundreds of Palestinians had taken shelter.
Israeli officials acknowledge that the 20-day offensive has not permanently crippled Hamas’s military wing or ended its ability to launch rocket attacks. It is unlikely that Israel can achieve those aims militarily any time soon. The cost in human life and anti-Israeli fury would be enormous. Already more than 1,000 Palestinians have died in the densely populated Gaza Strip, where an always miserable life has become unbearable. Thirteen Israelis have died.
I agree with most elements of the kicker line in the piece, which reads:
President-elect Barack Obama says he will work for a peace deal from Day 1. We hope Israel picks a new leader in elections next month who is truly committed to a two-state solution. With the support of the new American president, he or she must make an early downpayment on peace by ending settlement construction, cooperating seriously with Mr. Abbas and improving the lives of all Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.
This makes sense for the most part — with the exception that any approach to the Middle East peace process must eventually involve all of the substantial elements of power in the region and that we have to suspend the illusion that Israelis and Palestinians can ever responsibly negotiate a stable outcome without other neighboring powers deeply engaged as stakeholders and guarantors of the outcome.
— Steve Clemons