Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15: Middle East: What Are They Prepared To Do?

By Sylvia Gurinsky

It's "The Untouchables" all over again.

That famous scene in the 1987 movie in which Jim Malone (Sean Connery) asks Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), "What are you prepared to do?" resonates all over the Middle East.

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked about what he's prepared to do: Recognize a Palestinian state in exchange for full recognition of Israel. I have trouble understanding all of those people who say it's a "non-starter." You can't have peace or a Palestinian state without full Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist, so what's the point?

Netanyahu's call for a demilitarized Palestine also makes sense. Israelis have the right to live without the threat of suicide bombs in Tel Aviv and Katyushas in Sderot.

Bibi needs to add one more thing: Get rid of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic venom being taught in Palestinian schools.

Right now, Netanyahu's being criticized in almost all corners for the speech. But he went further than any previous Likud leader since Menachem Begin has gone. That's progress - especially for Netanyahu.

Now, how far will the Palestinians go? The next move is up to them. Are they prepared to do anything for peace, not to mention statehood?

The question of "What are you prepared to do" also resonates in Iran, where those protesting last week's so-called election results have to decide how far they want to take their dissent. Do they want to take it all the way to civil war and an effort to, at long last, break Iran free of the prison in which extremists have held it for the last 30 years?

The generation that brought that extremism to Iran in 1979 has reached middle age. The young generation of Iranians want more freedoms and a better relationship with the West. They took those hopes to the polls last Thursday. For now, at least, those hopes have been crushed.

But their voices have not been silenced. The question now is whether this is just temporary or the start of a new Iranian revolution.

Again, what are they prepared to do?

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