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7 Steps to End the Forever War.

Dear Friend:


We Americans profoundly misunderstand the current conflict we in the West have with the Middle East.  We are headed down the wrong track.


There is a way to end the current “Forever war” in which we find ourselves, but it is not by continuing in the direction in which we are heading. The answer is not sending more guns to the Middle East.  Our various military misadventures in recent years and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have only created more terrorists and have clearly made the situation worse.   


The answer, rather, lies in treating all of the people of the Middle East and Muslim world with dignity and respect.  We have spent too much time allowing a tiny group of terrorists to dominate our thinking and dictate a large part of our foreign policy.  Instead, we need to develop a “wisdom dialogue” with the remaining 99.99% of the Arab and Muslim world.  A very large number of the people of the Middle East are angry with the West, but they do not wish to harm us.  It is with these good people we should be in dialogue.


Much of American culture fears and disrespects the Middle East and Muslim world and many of us have largely written that world all off as “terrorists.”  This is a profound mistake.  Instead, we need to listen to them and talk with them.  Here are seven steps we need to take to move towards healing the terrible conflict in our world today.


1.  We need to recognize the heavy weight of historical mistakes of the interaction between the East and West for the past thousand years including the Crusades and the colonial era.  History very much matters.


2.  We need to end our military invasions of the region and our endless interference with internal Middle East politics and we must never ever use torture again.


3.  Americans should meet for coffee with our Arab and Muslim neighbors across the United States and listen to what they have to say.


4.  We should organize a boycott of TV programs and their supporting advertisers, movies and video games which perpetuate pernicious stereotypes of Middle East and Muslim people.


5.  We should instead develop our appreciation of the great heritage and beauty of Arab and Muslim culture — both historically and in the present.


6.  “Fundamentalist” was originally an American Protestant Christian term.  Instead of just talking about Islamic fundamentalists, Christians and Jews need to examine the role that fundamentalism and extremism play in their communities.


7.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an open wound which has still not healed and it is getting worse.  It remains the “third rail” of American public life which most leaders are afraid to touch.  Nevertheless, we must find a way to discuss it.  From the point of view of the 1.6 billion Arab and Muslim people in the world who closely identify with the Palestinians, it is a clear sign that the West disrespects them.  As they interpret it, continuing U.S. tolerance of Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands means that Israelis matter to the U.S., but Middle Easterners and Muslims do not.  Until we find a just solution to the continuing eviction of the Palestinian people from their historic homeland and a honorable way to share the land between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, we will not find a solution to the current conflict.


The way to end the Forever War we’re now engaged in is not by sending more guns but rather by building understanding, respect and friendship with the Middle East and Muslim world.  We must listen at length to the Middle East and Muslim world, and then listen some more.  And then we need to begin a dialogue with them.


Mel Lehman

“Friend” Mel Lehman (New York, New York) on Facebook and receive our monthly Middle East Peace Blog


(c) 2018 by Common Humanity

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