Pro-Israeli professor speaks out at Hillel
There won’t be an easy answer for a long-lasting peace in Israel as long as Palestinians continue to actively promote violence in the region, Harvard visiting professor and former Deputy National Security Advisor in Israel Chuck Freilich said.
"I think the amazing thing is that Israel has tolerated this as long as it has," Freilich said.
The Houston Hillel, a branch of the national organization for Jewish campus life, invited Freilich to speak Thursday at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center.
Freilich believes that Israel has attempted a number of times to offer a fair agreement to the Palestinians, but terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas want all or nothing when it comes to land concessions.
The country has offered land concessions to the Palestinians as recently as 2006, the New York Times reported. Israel, in an attempt for peace, withdrew from the Gaza Strip in September 2005.
"Seventy seven percent of Israelis favor major land concessions," he said.
Freilich said he would be in favor of Israel having discussions with Hamas if it meant that the discussions would result in peace.
"I’m tired of morality and ideology-I’ll talk to anyone," Freilich said. "Anything more than a temporary ceasefire. It’s got to be long-term to be worthwhile."
Since September 2000 approximately 1,033 Israelis and more than 4,000 Palestinians have been killed by in the conflict, according to www.ifamericansknew.org.
Despite the violence in the region, Israel is prospering. The cultural life in the country is endlessly amazing and it is an up and coming silicon valley when it comes to technology, Freilich said.
Freilich did concede that Palestinians are not in an easy situation right now.
"Palestinians are in a really unenviable condition," Freilich said.
He said the Iranians have not helped the situation by contributing to organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, but that support could be stemmed if sanctions were involved.
"Iran is very vulnerable to international sanctions if the international community ever gets its act together," Freilich said.
As a world leader, the United States has an obligation to help promote peace in the region, Freilich said.
"There’s a price to being a superpower," he said.
The West Bank isn’t the only region in the Arab world with its share of problems. Saudi Arabia severely restricts the rights of women, and Iraq is in turmoil with no end in sight.
"If the Arab world wants to live in dictatorships and autocratic regimes, it is their problem," Freilich said. "The Mideast isn’t just dealing with it’s own problems, it’s exporting them to the rest of the world."
Eventually the Palestinians must stop depending on Israel and the rest of the world for economic support and build their own economy, he said.
Freilich also wondered how to strengthen somebody who is himself a good person, but who represents an organization that launches rockets at civilians and wages an onslaught of daily terror, including suicide bombings.
Israel is in a difficult situation because it wants peace, but it has the responsibility of defending its citizens from suicide bombers and rocket attacks.
"The Israeli government’s responsibility is to Israeli people to provide security for Israelis, it’s not to take care of the Palestinians," Freilich said.