Sunday, June 1, 2008

US and Israel Team Up to Perpetuate the Palestinian Conflict

Despite conjecture to the contrary, it is clear that no solution to the Palestinian conflict that doesn't include Jerusalem in Islamic control will be successful. In light of that, one of the most effective ways to lessen the concurrent violence is to allow outlets--educational and economic--to young Palestinians to lower the appeal of fighting along side Hamas.

Israel clearly doesn't agree, though, as it has forced the State Department's hand by preventing Palestinian winners of Fulbright grants from leaving Gaza.

Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza.

The other solution, of course, would be to allow the students to leave. Not allowing Palestinians the opportunity for higher education seems on its face to be counter-productive. The only possibility that Hamas loses its grip on the coastal region stems from a population that can be independently productive and build lives which have no room for violence. Ensuring perpetual poverty is not going to accomplish that.

“If we are talking about peace and mutual understanding, it means investing in people who will later contribute to Palestinian society,” [Abdulrahman Abdullah, Fulbright scholar,] said. “I am against Hamas. Their acts and policies are wrong. Israel talks about a Palestinian state. But who will build that state if we can get no training?”

The study grants notwithstanding, the Israeli officials argued that the policy of isolating Gaza was working, that Palestinians here were starting to lose faith in Hamas’s ability to rule because of the hardships of life.

That contrast, of course, would only be amplified if Palestinians in general were allowed to build their lives for themselves. By keeping those that want a life outside of Hamas from doing so, Israel is in fact keeping the difference between life with or without Hamas less stark a difference. Israel, if it wants to succeed, needs to amplify the difference, and allowing opportunities for higher education would be but one step down that road. And all that it would take to achieve it is to allow a few people to leave territory that isn't theirs in the first place.

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