U profs recommend policy toward Israel

By Jed Layton, Asst. News Editor

Amos Guiora is already impressed by how the new American president has influenced tensions between Hamas and Israel.

Guiora, an S.J. Quinney College of Law professor and former judge advocate in the Israel Defense Forces, said the recent ceasefire called between Hamas and Israel was primarily put in place because of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“Israel clearly understood they had to give President Obama some kind of a grace period,” he said. “It was clear there had to be a ceasefire for the inauguration.”

The ceasefire was made last week after three weeks of intense fighting in Gaza.

Peter Von Sivers, a history professor, said the ceasefire came about because Israel did not want the fighting to escalate to house-to-house occupation fighting.

“It would have been extremely bloody,” Von Sivers said. “I think they wanted to avoid that.”

Guiora was in Israel, near Jerusalem, visiting his family during most of the fighting.

The most recent round of fighting was unusual, but it will also provide opportunities for Obama, Guiora said.

Typically, Israel targets specific people when conducting counterterrorism instead of full-out war, Guiora said. But this time they declared war on the non-state entity of Hamas.

“There has been a paradigm shift from typical counterterrorism,” he said. “This is almost war and it is almost because Hamas isn’t a state, but is still an organization. This was new in the context of international war for them.”

Guiora said the three weeks of fighting were also unusual because they did not provoke much response from typically pro-Palestinian governments.

He said Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Palestinian authorities, while not condoning the attacks, did not condemn Israel. These moderate countries are key for Obama to create relationships with the United States, Guiora said.

“He has to maximize the wedge between the extremists and the moderates,” he said. “His only way to go forward is with moderate Arab regimes.”

Von Sivers said Obama also needs to re-engage both Syria and Qatar to encourage them to leave behind the extremist country of Iran.

“He needs to isolate Iran as much as possible,” he said. “It is the military and financial support for Hamas and other militant groups.”

Guiora said Obama needs to make it clear to Hamas there will be no toleration of breaking the ceasefire.

Martin Goldsmith, a junior in history, said he does not envy Obama’s job in finding peace. However, he sees Obama’s personality as a chance to befriend moderate Islamic nations and put peer pressure on extremists.

“I hope Obama will be able to create a relationship of understanding, rather than force, with Islamic nations,” he said.

Adriana Archibald, a junior in economics, said she wants the fighting to stop.

“Both sides need to give and take, but I am not sure Obama will be able to help that much,” she said.

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Amos Guiora