No. 36 (December 1999)
How to Bring Lasting Peace
to the Middle East
by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Syria, key to both that country and to Lebanon, wants more of a place in the Sun. And it wants its former land, the mountainous barrier and now resort known as the Golan Heights, back out of Israeli hands, who are literally looking down on Syria's capital, Damascus.
Israel, which has made peace on all its other borders, very understandably wants security. It now feels that it has security from threat of invasion by Syria because it controls the Golan Heights.
A peace between Israel and Syria wouldn't automatically mean peace between Israel and all Arab nations and factions, but the point would be moot for the same reasons it is so difficult for inimical armies to invade Israel today from peace partners Egypt or Jordan. For all intents and purposes, aside from the Palestinian issue which appears close to a final mutually accepted resolution, peace between Israel and Syria would mean peace in the explosive Middle East.
The Golan Heights, lynchpin for peace
Neither country, though, wants to surrender the Golan Heights to the other, and probably will not. But there is a way to settle that matter within the ranges of mutual acceptance nonetheless, and to establish either full or de facto peace between Israel, Syria, and Syria's puppet, Lebanon. The key is those very same Golan Heights.
It doesn't have to be the full U.N. HQ itself, though both the U.N. and various isolationist Americans have for years talked about somehow moving U.N. Headquarters out of New York City. WHO, UNESCO or some other major division would suffice. From there, that agency would be much closer to its main scope of action in Asia and Africa. But, more important,
With that major a world presence in the area, there is no longer a prospect of forming up and moving an invading army in there, from either country. It's one thing to slip around past a foxhole bunker with two or three U.N. observers in it. To try to do so in the presence of a major world agency headquarters would be another thing altogether.Both countries, especially Israel, would enjoy thereby far greater securityenough so that Israel could afford the gesture of ceding nominal sovereignty rights to the Golan back to Syria as part of the deal. Having a major U.N. agency world headquarters right there in the Golan would mean a considerable increase in business and trade, for both Israel and Syria. Syria would gain a much greater place in the sun, economically, politically and perhaps culturally. Syria would also gain back at least nominal control of the long-lost part of her territory.
To help this deal along, various countries around the world could readily give tariff breaks to any goods they import from firms jointly owned by Syrians and Israelis. Presumably many of these would be based in the Golan, where economic development projects could also be undertaken to build the economic stakes both countries would have in keeping the peace there.
See also the "Bringing Peace" article, Winsights No. 34, October, 1999.
All of us around the world are being poisoned by terrorism. Between political/religious terrorism and the drug wars, America has become a police state, wholly antithetical to our traditions, and other countries have similarly suffered. Most of this terrorism originates in the Middle East, and most of that is initially driven by the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace between Israel and Syria would suffocate most of the remaining conflict, and in turn starve out most of the terrorism. It doesn't answer all our problems, but it certainly helps with some of them. So, bringing peace way over there bears directly upon our own lives right here.
This rather simple solution to the seemingly unsolvable problem of Israel vs. Syria over the Golan Heights, around which so much is at stake, makes sense and, once voiced to sufficient attention, will likely be easy of attainment. But,
as noted in Winsights No.34our State Department is not overly fond of and receptive to suggestions coming from outside. Look how bitterly State reacted to former President Jimmy Carter's remarkably successful mediation in Bosnia, for examplebut happy enough to accept the more-or-less peace gotten there, once it was attained.Project Renaissance is both non-political and non-commercial. If the idea of a settlement between Israel and Syria, which places a major U.N. agency world headquarters in the Golan, makes sense to you....
"Only you," as Smokey the Bear used to say about forest fires, can "voice to sufficient attention" this hitherto unconsidered optionto your acquaintances in the U.N., to your Congressperson, to any friends you have in high places or in the media. Start by talking this over with a closer, more personal friend whose judgment you respect, and see if this also makes sense to him or her.
What could our own lives be like, and those of our children, if the incredibly volatile Middle East problem, with us since long before living memory and in the locale of a promised Armageddon, is finally solved? Wouldn't you enjoy having had a hand in bringing that peaceful resolution about?
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