In this increasingly hostile world of ours, it is only natural to search for even the slightest hint that peace may be possible. As I watched the news last night, two such hints came into sharp focus right before my eyes. The first is Iran’s recent attempt to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. And the second is the imminent, God willing, release by Hamas of Gilad Shalit, a captive Israeli soldier, in exchange for the release of approximately 1000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.
You may well ask: Why do these seemingly two unrelated news items point to the possibility of peace?
Iran’s assassination attempt underscores the threat that the current regime poses to the Sunni Arab world, and for that matter, to the world at large. It is seemingly inconceivable, in light of the threats that confront Iran’s leadership, that they would even attempt such a bold and brazen attack, against a Saudi diplomat, on U.S. soil no less. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? And yet, as the last few years clearly demonstrate, Iran’s leaders have not hesitated to finance and carry out terrorist attacks of all shapes and sizes, including the bombing of a Jewish synagogue in Argentina, with over 100 killed, as well as the murder of over 100 dissidents throughout Europe.
And as we all know, Iran makes no secret of her desire to develop nuclear weapons, and to use that umbrella, and her proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to wield an even greater influence throughout the entire region. There is no doubt that at least some of Iran’s leaders wish to remake the Middle East in their image. Even if it turns out that this plot was perpetrated by a rogue faction, still: Would you want a rogue faction to have its finger on a nuclear trigger? Is that a risk we can afford to take?
It would be natural, therefore, for Saudi officials to be quite worried about Iranian intentions, especially considering the historical enmity between Shiites and Sunnis, the acts of terrorism sponsored by Iran, the attempt to become a nuclear power, and the recent attempted assassination of the Saudi Ambassador. Taken as a whole, the assassination attempt is just further confirmation of Iran’s intent to take charge, and of her willingness to use extra-ordinary means to do so.
So why does this point to the possibility of peace? Because as Saudi looks around, and searches for a way to keep Iranian designs in check, she may have no choice but to look to Israel and the U.S., because only they have the wherewithal to accomplish such a mission, and the self-interest to do so. And therefore, a strategic alliance between Saudi, the Sunni Arabs, Israel and the U.S. may soon be in the offing. And what will be the price for such an arrangement? That is easy enough to fathom; assistance in closing the deal on peace between Israel and Palestine, and leveraging that into an overall understanding between Israel and the Arab world.
The second hint that peace may be in the offing is Hamas’ apparent willingness to release Gilad Shalit in exchange for Israel’s release of over 1000 Palestinian prisoners, 300 of whom are serving life sentences. Why does this prisoner swap bode well for peace, you may well ask. And the answer is quite simple. Because it shows, in a rather perverse way, that Israel and Hamas can cut a deal, even though both are sworn to each other’s destruction, and have vowed never to negotiate with one another. Still, somehow, a deal was cut, and if that deal could be cut, it follows that other deals could be cut as well.
Ask yourself a simple question: Why did Hamas cut this deal? Because it wants to look good in the eyes of the people, and bringing home 1000 Palestinian prisoners looks good. Well, what if the people begin demanding jobs and a greater measure of freedom, which they are? What then? Is it just possible that if Hamas needs to deliver on jobs and freedom, that it too will look to Israel and the U.S. to help in this regard, because in reality, they are best able to do so? And if that is the case, what will be the price that Hamas has to pay? Well, that too is easy to fathom…peace! Nothing more, and nothing less.
So in the end, when push comes to shove, peace may be possible, not because people love one another, God forbid, or because they want a better world for their children, or because they believe in the sanctity of life. No, none of that crap. Peace may come one day because as we face some very common existential threats, we may finally come to realize that we actually need one another, for a change, to stave off these threats, and to save our very own necks.
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