Paul Greenberg

By the time you read these words, Gentle and Grateful Reader, peace should have broken out in that most unlikely part of the world, the Middle East. Yes, peace is always a frail plant in that arid region, but let us celebrate and tend its appearance after eight days of headlines about war and rumors of a bigger one.

The cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, aka Hamasland, may prove only tenuous, as usual, but it is all the more welcome for the difficulties involved in negotiating it through intermediaries, and despite all the bloodthirsty talk from the usual terrorists.

Eyeless in Gaza, which has been a source of strife since Samson's time, Hamas' louder mouths cried war, but a new realism somehow prevailed over the old bloodlust.

Yes, the violations and counter-violations of this truce will now begin, but if the past is prologue, they will dwindle till an uncertain modus vivendi, a way of living rather than dying, will begin to emerge. The scope of this accomplishment can be measured simply enough; the fighting lasted eight days, while it took the Lord God fully six to create the whole world.

This has to be recorded as one of the Israel's shorter wars and, if its people can recognize it, one of its more impressive victories, for it may put an end to the incessant rocket fire that has plagued them for months. Peace has its victories as well as war.

Behind the scenes, Egyptian envoys, working with American ones, got Hamas to call off its attacks -- with a little help from the real makers of this tentative peace, the Israeli air force. But credit should go to all those who negotiated behind the scenes, including this administration, and yes, its ambassador to the United Nations, the Honorable but now under fire Susan Rice.

This time Ambassador Rice successfully stalled any interference by the Security Council, where many a war has been fomented rather than prevented. To quote the late great Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the UN, the United Nations has become an organization that distributes violence like any other protection racket. This time it didn't get a chance to prolong a war.

Yes, we know, talk about how welcome this peace is may be lost on those, both Arab and Jew, who have seen their children, their mothers and fathers, friends and family, blown to smithereens before this cease-fire was achieved. But every day of peace, however fragile, is to celebrated. Let us both mourn the dead and vow, not for the first time, Never Again.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.