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Soros on Israel

Bob: This interests me because George Soros is a billionaire and a Jew
and is saying Israel and the U.S. have made huge mistakes. Anne
----- Original Message -----
*From:* Michael Vachon <mailto:michael@georgesoros.com>

*Sent:* Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:13 AM
*Subject:* Soros on Israel

Dear Colleague:

I thought you would be interested in reading George Soros' most recent
opinion piece, published this morning in the Boston Globe. In it, he
applies his thinking on the weakness of the War on Terror concept to the
current situation in Israel.

To find out more about Soros' views on the War on Terror, the global
energy crisis and other important issues, visit George Soros' homepage
<http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vvg85xbab.0.awnetxbab.vdgn8wbab.758&ts=S0202&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.georgesoros.com>.
There you can download sections of his book "The Age of Fallibility:
Consequences of the War on Terror" and join our mailing list.

Best,
Michael Vachon

*Boston Globe*
August 31, 2006
By George Soros

The failure of Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many
weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that
even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent
civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.

In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in attacking
Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its
border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize
collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted
on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and
converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many.
Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.

Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on
military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously
withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than
negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the
Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a
direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in
the way of recognizing this fact because it separates "us" from "them"
and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.

A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together
different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to
distinguish between Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda or the Sunni insurrection
and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations,
being different, require different responses. Neither Hamas nor
Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because
they have deep roots in their societies; yet there are profound
differences between them.

Looking back, it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When
Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel
should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist
team. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank,
James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet
for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union and
the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the
West Bank, an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with
Egypt, and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers
into Arab hands.

None of the six points was implemented. This contributed to Hamas’s
electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to
allow the Palestinians to hold elections, then backed Israel’s refusal
to deal with a Hamas government. The effect was to impose further
hardship on the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political
arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil
this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus,
engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from
Israel - which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening
a second front. That is how extremists play off against each other to
destroy any chance of political progress.

Israel has been a participant in this game, and President Bush bought
into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have
shown that this policy leads to the escalation of violence. The process
has advanced to the point where Israel's unquestioned military
superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative
consequences of its policy.

Israel is now more endangered in it existence that it was at the time of
the Oslo Agreement on peace. Similarly, The United States has become
less safe since President Bush declared war on terror.

The time has come to realize that the present policies are
counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of
escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine
question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better
now than they were a few months ago. The Israelis must realize that a
military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having
redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain
a compromise.

There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a
position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel’s position is liable to
become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly
Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and
egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where
the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The
Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The
political - as distinct from the military - wing of Hamas must be
responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage
and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first
step toward a better-balanced approach. Given how strong the
U.S.-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel achieve its own
legitimate aims if the U.S. government were not blinded by the
war-on-terror concept.

George Soros, a financier and philanthropist, is author of "The Age of
Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.
<http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=vvg85xbab.0.awnetxbab.vdgn8wbab.758&ts=S0202&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.georgesoros.com>"


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