Opinion

Quds Day protests foreshadow difficult Mideast peace process

As Israeli and Palestinian leaders began their first direct peace talks in nearly two years, the usual cast of provocateurs immediately set out to protest the negotiations. The Iranian government, Hamas, and Hezbollah respectively ratcheted up their own rhetoric in an attempt to inflame anti-Israel sentiments and further undermine the tenuous peace process.

While not surprising, such provocations should remind the world community of the ruinous potential posed by the prospect of a nuclear-emboldened Iran; both to the specter of a viable peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians and more broadly to stability within the region.

Quds Day, launched in 1979 by the Ayatollah Khomeini, has since been a day of solidarity among those sympathetic to Palestinian struggles against Israel. In practice, it has been defined by protests and hostility leveled toward Israel and her inhabitants. As thousands gathered across myriad locations this past Friday to denounce Israel, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the occasion to call on Palestinians to continue their armed conflict against Israel.

“Palestine’s issue cannot be resolved through talks with the enemies of the Palestinian nation. Resisting is the only way to rescue the Palestinians,” exhorted Ahmadinejad to a throng of worshipers at Tehran University.

Ismail Al-Ashqar, a principal figure within Hamas, amplified the rhetoric. “Jerusalem cannot be liberated through negotiations or dialogue … resistance and Jihad is the only way to liberate Jerusalem from the dirt of the Zionist occupation.”

While this vitriol has become commonplace among the fervently anti-Zionist, Ahmadinejad followed up his Quds Day rhetoric with an overt threat against any inclination within the Israeli government of an armed response to the burgeoning nuclear threat in Iran.

“Any offensive against Iran means the annihilation of the Zionist entity,” Ahmadinejad threatened. He went on to further insinuate that American and Israeli capitulation was a fait accompli because “they know that Iran is ready and has the potential for a decisive and wide-scale response.”

Militant rhetoric, like that widely heard on Quds Day, can incite the type of conflict and rancor likely to wreak havoc on any prospect of successful peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors; however, the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran places such prospects for peace in an even more untenable position. Whether arming its belligerent proxies in Hezbollah or pursuing its own strategy of armed intimidation, a nuclear-capable Iran foreshadows a very disquieting prospect for peace in a region already haunted by instability and conflict.

Scott G. Erickson is an advocate of conservative, principled solutions to the issues facing America. He has worked to advance conservative priorities through coalition building and is an active participant in myriad organizations seeking to restore the foundational principles of America. A committed public servant, he has worked in the field of law enforcement for the past decade and holds both his B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.