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May 30, 2003 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-30

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Mixed Reaction

Sharon's acceptance of the road map re-starts peace jitters.


Staff Writer


Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center said that this
peace plan is "a non-starter." He visits Israel often
and supports the settlements,
"Unless the Arabs and PLO are willing to disman-
tle Hamas and other terrorist organizations — and I
don't see that happening — Bush's plan is simply
wishful thinking without looking at reality," Rabbi
Silberberg said.
The critical component of dismantling terrorist
groups, he added, would only lead to civil war
among the Palestinian factions, not peace for Israel.
Rabbi Silberberg believes that Sharon was forced
into this agreement. "He can't say no to the king of
the world, President Bush. And I believe that Bush is
a friend of Israel's. Bush doesn't feel this can work
either," the rabbi said. "But he has to try something."
Rabbi Silberberg added that the Middle East situa-
tion would change only when a grassroots group
emerges in the Arab community against the hatred of
Jews and of Israel.
"When dealing with the suicide mentality, you
can't negotiate peace," said the rabbi. "And you can't
compromise security for false hopes of peace."
On the other hand, University of Michigan-
Dearborn political science professor Ronald Stockton
believes this peace plan — like those that came
before it at Oslo and especially Taba — has great
potential if it generates a sense of fairness and justice

resident George W. Bush, Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas once
again dare to travel on the road toward
peace. The U.S-backed plan known as the road map
has many concerned over the outcome.
Can this plan succeed in ways previous ones have
not? Have the two sides learned from past negotia-
tions? Has the overthrow of Iraq's Saddam Hussein
presented a unique opportunity for peace in the
Middle East? Or is our hope for peace blinding us to
the reality of terrorism and ultimately placing Israel
in a more dangerous position?
Community members with a range of perspectives
were interviewed for their reaction to the current
Middle East plan. First announced by President Bush
in early March, the road map, in simple terms, calls
for an end to violence, the right of Israel to exist in
peace, the confrontation of terror organizations, the
dismantling of Israeli settlements created since March
2001, and the creation of a Palestinian state in the
West Bank and Gaza in 2005.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to meet
with President Bush on Wednesday, June 4, in
Aqaba, Jordan, to discuss this plan, which is spon-
sored by the European Union,
Russia, the United Nations and
the United States.
Wayne State University
Professor Edith Covensky of
Bloomfield Hills represents a mid-
dle-ground stance among commu-
nity reactions to the plan. She
teaches in WSU's Near Eastern
and Asian Studies Department.
"I was pleased to see that Sharon
is taking a positive response to the
on both sides.
road map plan, which surprised me and many of his
"Israel's army has to pull back to Israel, and
colleagues," said Covensky, a former sergeant in the
Palestinian extremists have to be contained," said
Israeli army.
Stockton. "There has to be this two-track strategy of
She added that Israel can not isolate itself.
pursuing political negotiations and security issues.
"Sharon is trying to look forward to the future
And they must not allow extremist actions to hold
generation," she said, adding that for the first time,
political negotiations hostage."
Sharon said that Israel should not be occupiers over
He said a good sign for peace was that both sides
3.5 million Palestinians.
seem exhausted by the bloodletting that has occurred
"Sharon said that a Palestinian state is not the
over the past two years.
dream of my life, but that we have to look forward
Problems, of course, will emerge. In the short
to the future generation," Covensky said.
term, Stockton said, Sharon has strong opposition
With the fall of Iraq, Israel seized the moment, she
from within his own party and his cabinet. On the
said. "It's a bold move. For the first time, Sharon
Palestinian side, their security forces have been
acted as a visionary, and that's the kind of politician
destroyed, which leaves Hamas in a strong military
we need today."
Terror's Hold
"The Palestinian security forces have to be com-
pletely reconstructed" to deal with the terrorists, he
At another end of the spectrum, Rabbi Elimelech
said, but it's a trap if one thinks they can defeat
Silberberg of the West Bloomfield-based Sara




Hamas militarily.
"Hamas has to be undermined by the existence of
a non-violent alternative that will cause Palestinians
to turn away from it," he said. "Sharon's approach
over the past two years has been to destroy Hamas.
Not only has that not worked, but it's been counter-

Terror Vs. Peace

Allan Gale of the Jewish Community Council of
Metropolitan Detroit disagreed that the Palestinian
security forces have been completely destroyed. And
the Ha'aretz newspaper says the CIA is helping to
rebuild the Palestinian security forces to fight terror,
he said.
Gale teeters between wanting peace and not want-
ing to whitewash his fears of past attempts. He is
reminded of how Yasser Arafat and the Palestine
Liberation Organization acted in the past when
Israel, seeking peace, allowed the Palestinians to build
up an army to fill the power vacuum several years
ago. "In the fall of 2002," Gale said, "those weapons
[borne out of peace] were turned against the Israelis."
Radical groups like Hamas and the Al-Agra
Martyrs Brigades [associated with Arafat's Fatah fac-
tion] still exist, he added. "Again, Israel is being
asked to step out, withdraw its troops and allow the
Palestinians to fill the power vacuum."
Yet Gale said the new peace process, though not
perfect, is much more delicate and slow-moving. The
plan has promise because the United States is behind
'America keeps Israel's interest in mind and Israel
feels more comfortable and takes risks when America
is in the picture," Gale said. "Jimmy Carter brought
Egypt and Israel together; Bill
Clinton was involved in the Oslo
process and the Jordanian treaty
with Israel. Things happen in the
Middle East when U.S. presi-
dents take an interest in it."
One important element to
secure peace is a democratic
Palestine, said Dr. Raymond
Tanter, University of Michigan
professor emeritus and former
national security adviser to
President Ronald Reagan.
"Only in the context of a democratic Palestine will
it be possible for a road map to peace to be success-
ful," said Tanter, currently an adjunct scholar at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Because
democracies rarely fight each other, democratic peace
should be the outcome of negotiations between Israel
and the Palestinians."
Tanter, who has taught at Hebrew University in
Jerusalem, added that once the peace plan is begun
by its sponsors, the Palestinians and Israelis must
ultimately be able to shape it themselves.
"The road map is not a divinely revealed set of pre-
scriptions equivalent to the Ten Commandments
Moses received at Mt. Sinai," Tanter said. "While it
is not appropriate to amend the commandments, it
might make sense for the parties themselves to nego-
tiate amendments to the road map ... Indeed, it is

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