Thursday, March 6, 2008

Slipping Further Away

As rockets continue to fall on Israel, and the Israeli military steps up operations in Gaza, gunmen shot up a school in Jerusalem.

There is no peace in the Middle East, and the ramping up of the attacks as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Olmert and Abbas show just how hollow President Bush's call for peace in the region by the end of his term really is. A timetable cannot be put on a conflict of this magnitude, and Israel cannot be realistically asked to negotiate with a gun to its head.

I was reading a TIME article about the possibility of Israel conducting a full assault on Gaza, getting itself into an Iraq-type quagmire, when an email popped up. A friend of mine who I am not in regular touch with is not only in Israel right now, not only in Jerusalem, but studying at a seminary there. He did not mention the attacks directly, but only said not to worry, that he is OK, and goes to a different school, a neighboring school from the one attacked.

And once again, events so far away hit so close to home for me.

Israel cannot negotiate as rockets keep falling on Sderot and Ashkelon. Abbas has to clean his own house before he can negotiate in good faith. Otherwise, we will merely return to (or continue) the hollow promises of the Arafat decades, where he would say in English what the west wanted to hear, and then turn around in Arabic and say "go get 'em."

I do not know what the answers are. All I know is that, unlike the optimism expressed in the Lincoln quote that peace is not so distant as it has been, I feel like hope and peace are slipping further and further away.