The Incredible Hulk’s Timeless Wisdom On The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Our guest blogger is Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Two years into office, perhaps the biggest disappointment on its national security agenda for the Obama administration has been the lack of progress on Middle East peace.

This Incredible Hulk comic book from the early 1980s that I found in some old papers in my office serves as a reminder of a basic point that is often lost in the complicated analyses and media wars over the Middle East.

In “Power and Peril in the Promised Land,” Bruce Banner stows away on a ship and wakes up in Israel, where he befriends a young Arab boy who is killed by Arab terrorists. This angers Bruce, who turns into the Incredible Hulk and takes the boy’s body next door to Jordan, all the while chased by the Israeli super heroine Sabra.

One can imagine Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell or even President Obama sympathizing with the Hulk’s frustration found on the last page: “Boy died because boy’s people and yours both want to own land! Boy died because you wouldn’t share.”

Just before the Hulk heads off to Egypt, he rages, “Hulk came looking for peace — but there is no peace!” I know many people in the Obama administration who are feeling Hulk’s pain.

What’s interesting about this old comic book is that it was written long before the intifadas, the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the massive expansion of Israeli settlements over the last twenty years, and the start and collapse of peace talks several times. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge. The story’s simple plot highlights the human costs of a conflict that has dragged on for far too long. The fact the conflict still remains unresolved is a travesty.

There are more complicated explanations for the lack of progress on Middle East peace, and much ink has been spilt analyzing this topic, but the unwillingness to share — or even sit down in negotiations without preconditions or cease land grabs aimed at creating more facts on the ground — remains a core problem plaguing Middle East peace efforts.

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