Sunday, July 21, 2024 | 00:21 WIB

Is it real this time, or another empty hope?

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Jakarta, IO – Very recently, President Biden’s announcement from the White House mentioned a new proposal for peace in the Middle East, one that basically consists of three parts: a complete ceasefire for six weeks, exchanges of hostages and a plan to reconstruct Gaza. He revealed that Hamas showed much interest in the peace initiative, but inside Israel the extreme right faction in the government did not agree with ceasing IDF operations in Rafah, while for Hamas a complete ceasefire is a precondition for negotiations. 

Frankly, from the written news report that I follow from a Financial Times report, it was indeed very difficult to secure a clear meaning of the messages that came out from both sides. In the one hand, inside the Israel Government there are still extremists that keep declaring they do not want to stop the operation and that the objective of getting rid of Hamas completely has yet to be accomplished. On the other hand, Hamas also insists that a complete ceasefire is a precondition for starting negotiations. So, if one is true, the other cannot be true as well; that was the way I understood it, from reading all these reports. In short, it is still difficult to say whether what President Biden seemed to be enthusiastically announcing is for real or whether this is still yet another empty hope. 

For President Biden, his effort to demonstrate that side from maintaining the position as the strongest ally of Israel, he tried hard to also show that the US was not blindly doing this. Frankly, I am sure that this would convince those who think that he has been applying a double standard in this case. This is a real challenge to President Biden I think, including for his bid for the reelection, which for some voters – maybe the young generation – may disapprove of this type of policy. And I am sure Prime Minister Netanyahu would only be feeling grateful for the situation. And why not? He would even be visiting the US pretty soon and will deliver an address to a joint session of Congress and the Senate in the Capitol Building. If with all this he still continues with the attack and operations against Rafah, then I do not know what to say anymore. The strong domestic support from the extreme right, and the US reinvigorated support certainly enabled him to dare to ignore the UN Security Council resolution to stop the attacks immediately and cut off trade relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Would this move by President Biden give him an advantage in his bid for re-election? Let us see. Even I do not have the right to vote while I keep on saying I am always in support of President Biden. Yet, with this I feel like he has crossed the line and is playing with fire. Is this the move that pushes him better in the face of former President Trump, always claiming that he was a strong supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu? Obviously, I do not know, except that I start wondering. Well, this is the dynamics of politics which we all must accept, isn’t it? Maybe that is why I am not into politics and will remain happy as a humble academician, a profession in which I have full compassion. 

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In retrospect, it looks really true that there is never a dull moment in politics; well, not just in politics but also economics, finance, and maybe in other aspects of human life. It is basically up to us to make our profession dull or lively. In Economics, the dominant thoughts has kept changing as from the Classical to Keynesian to Monetarism Monetary Economics, and what not. Economic analysis moved from microeconomics to macroeconomics, and recently to meso-economics, dealing with issues in between the two. Finance that was very simple in the beginning became so complex with the introduction of digital currencies of many kinds, and we still do not know what comes next. Different kinds of disruptions also complicate the issue in finance that knew more and more techniques that compete each other to no end, as new ones become obsolete as soon as they start to become popular. Confusing or fun – it depends on in which end you find yourself.


J. Soedradjad Djiwandono, Emeritus Professor of Economics, FEBUI, Jakarta, and Adjunct Professor of International Economics, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

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