From Where I Sit
From Where I Sit

The Views and Personal Opinions of Joel Block

According to the Associated Press, Arabs and Europeans at the Group of Eight summit are annoyed with President George W. Bush over his plan to train 100,000 teachers across the Middle East to improve the quality of education while perhaps cutting down on possible extremism. Other aspects of his proposed Middle East democracy initiative have them annoyed, as well. They consider it a heavy-handed effort to foist American ideas on the region. The AP article goes on to say, “Both Arab and European leaders say Bush must deal first with what many consider the Middle East's most pressing problem, the ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians. King Abdullah II of Jordan, for one, came here focused on the plight of Palestinians ‘because no reform could be achieved away from finding a solution to this issue’.”

My question is what better way to address the problem of regional violence than by educating people and teaching them that violence is not the solution to their problems?

The “plight of the Palestinians” is the direct result of a flawed attitude on the part of the Europeans that the best way to bring peace to the Middle East is to constantly apply pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions to the Palestinians while placing no pressure on them at all.

The most glaring failure of the Oslo Accords was the failure to reform the educational system in the Palestinian Authority, an educational system that continued to teach hatred and the virtues of violence.

Nobody should expect any changes to take place in the Middle East without addressing the problem of education.

If the Europeans and Arabs were truly serious about bringing peace to the Middle East, they would be endorsing President Bush’s plan for improving the quality of education in that region instead of finding fault with it.

Joel Block, 2004

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Joel Block is a long-time friend of Rabbi Cassorla and has lived in Israel since 1968

Reprinted by permission.