Larry Snider

Moving beyond perpetual war

It doesn’t compute. It’s a multi-dimensional problem. And I didn’t even mention settlements or anti-Semitism. Wars used to have winners and losers, but this one’s more than a hundred years old and clearly doesn’t involve only the principals. There is Iran and there is America. And then there are a slew of more than interested Middle Eastern nations, as well as Europe and Russia and China and even North Korea. That’s not enough because Iranian proxies are keeping pressure on Israel, and the United States, by firing from Lebanon and Yemen as well as Syria and Iraq. America has sent its largest aircraft carrier, the Gerald Ford, and a task force to the Mediterranean and the Eisenhower to the Gulf of Oman to discourage Iran & Co. from creating a larger conflict. That’s just the introduction.

Lots of people want peace, while lots more have been gradually dissuaded from believing that peace is actually possible for Israelis and their settlements or Palestinians and their resistance. The abomination on October 7th has raised the stakes to require the government of Israel to declare war on Hamas and promise its people that it will end their control of Gaza. That is no quick or easy task with many Hamas leaders thriving in the demilitarized zone known as Qatar as they hold on to more than a hundred Israeli hostages.

And the plot thickens as Israel’s invasion of Gaza involves the ongoing destruction of the infrastructure of Hamas which includes hundreds of civilian buildings and an underground maze of tunnels that stretches for much of the length and width of Gaza. To bring a tangible end to Hamas means killing or capturing a majority of its roughly 30,000 man military and as much of its leadership as remains in Gaza. That translates to a humongous amount of destruction and the taking of a horrendous amount of civilian lives. I believe a major goal of Hamas/Iran was to butcher enough Israelis on October 7th to insure that their response would awaken the world and turn it in increasing numbers against the state of Israel and its benefactors.

And that is happening across the globe and here in the United States with demonstrations and anti-Semitism, and growing support for a Palestinian cause that is becoming a stand against both Israel-Netanyahu and it’s primary supporter America-Biden.

There are endless questions from the peanut gallery and generations of diplomats that twisted themselves into pretzels trying to figure out a path to peace that wouldn’t wind up eradicated by one or more of the sides that was against a positive outcome at every discernable moment, and managed to put three toes on the scale. To answer in short is to provide a little information connected to a little hope and a large dose of wishful thinking as one does his very best not to think too much about what’s behind him.

So with a pound of passionate peacemaking buttressing my impatience I’ll suggest one efficacious action: The Middle East is divided in a number of ways. One involves the Saudis versus Iran. Some believe that the effort to create an alliance between the Saudis and Israel was the fulcrum behind the Hamas attack. Terms are shifting with the rising death toll in Gaza. But an answer to the riddle that makes peace unachievable may be as simple and as hard as the long established goal of a Two State solution guaranteed by an amalgam of Middle Eastern states led by the two that have treaties, Egypt and Jordan, the one that is squarely on both sides, Qatar and the one with the power and the money, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States, the European Union, and England.

The current governments in Israel and the Palestinian territories will need to be updated to each see and become partners in a less violent future. That’s a big ask and a big if and the most likely long-term path to peace in a shared Holy Land.

About the Author
Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace a non-profit based in suburban Philadelphia. Today he lives in New Jersey and is a Board Member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.