Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

05 January 2009

And So It Goes (Repeat ad infinitum)

In the Middle East, a war is raging. It has all the features of many ideological wars in the Twentieth Century, though it's more overt than most.

One group is the democratically elected government of a small Mideastern nation continually battered by its implaceable enemies. These enemies believe that they were given the land by God, and that they must defend that land by force, driving the enemy away. That task is so sacred, so holy, that the deaths of noncombatant women and children are merely incidental to that holy purpose. They defend their depradations with scripture and political posturing, posing as the innocent victims of a bully who will not be satisfied until they are dead.

The other group is the democratically elected government of a small Mideastern nation continually battered by its implaceable enemies. These enemies believe that they were given the land by God, and that they must defend that land by force, driving the enemy away. That task is so sacred, so holy, that the deaths of noncombatant women and children are merely incidental to that holy purpose. They defend their depradations with scripture and political posturing, posing as the innocent victims of a bully who will not be satisfied until they are dead.

My sympathies are more with the Palestinian people in this, for a number of reasons:

A prominent Jewish friend and I once discussed the meaning of "an eye for an eye". She pointed out that prior to that writing, the penalty for loss of an eye might be the loss of a hand, a leg, one's farm. Israel clearly feels that one life for one life is somehow an unfair exchange. They've killed over five hundred people in response to the deaths of six.

But both sides bear some of the blame. Neither rushed to plead for renewal of the ceasefire that has held, shakily, for the past couple of years.

Both have such loose definitions of what a combatant is that Israel finds itself fully justified in targeting schools with kiloton bunker-buster bombs. And Hamas excuses its randomized rocket fire by pointing out that almost all Israeli citizens serve in the Israeli army, and are therfore legitimate targets for murder. Neither, in these assertions, is playing by the rules.

I believe there's a possibility of resolving the situation, but it won't be found while Israel continues to indiscriminately pound the $#17 out of civillians and their homes (or "continues to confine itself to legitimate targets," if you're with the PR arm of the IDF). It won't be found while Dick Cheney continues to claim moral responsibility for nothing at all. It won't be found while Hamas refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and it also won't be found while Israel refuses to recognize Hamas as the democratically-elected government of its tiny neighbour.

There is potential for change. Most Hamas leaders aren't actually hardline terrorist types. They're politicians and power brokers. Many, if not most, would be happy to seek a long-term or even perhaps a permanent cease-fire if they saw a way to benefit from it. Right now, the way to appeal to the voters is to oppose Israel.

And of course, appeal to the voters serves both sides right now. Israel is holding elections soon, and none of the candidates wishes to look "soft on terror."

At the moment, all I can say is that Israel is winning the war on the ground, for one definition of winning. However, it seems likely to lose the PR war, and support. Particularly once the horrid Bush administration gets flushed into history.

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6 Comments:

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

Not an ounce of agreement on this one. I don't understand why liberals tend to side with the fundamentalist Muslims on this issue. Is it because they are as intolerant of opposing viewpoints?

The people who have victimized the Palestinians the most are not the Israelis but the nations such as Egypt who encouraged the Palestenians to stay there during past wars. The Palestinians have been all but abandoned by those who promised to look out for them.

By the way, RE: targeting of civilians. Israel has taken to notifying Gaza civilian building occupants before bombing that building. Hamas' response? Why, load up that building with women and children! Way to look out for your own.

Some people blame the Israeli blockade, say that it's just fine for the Palestinians to launch rockets. Well, EGYPT is blockading Gaza right now too but you don't hear about rockets being launched into Egypt.

But really, what disgusts me the most about your stance is your lack of recognition of the hatred of the Jewish people that exists in the region (and has for many thousands of years). There's a quote, I forget exactly, that goes something like "If the Palestinians laid down their arms, there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down their arms, all the Israelis would be dead." I don't doubt that for a minute. You can't even enter any of the surrounding Arab nations if you are a Jew. And not just a Jew from Israel - any Jew. Even a country as "liberal" as the UAE. Iran and Syria have shown similar genocidal terrorist tendendies towards the Lebanese Chrsitians. In Israel, however, Arabs can and have served in their parliament. Equal on both sides? I think not.

Hamas are terrorists. Ask the ARAB Lebanese Christian refugees if they agree with this statement. How can you say otherwise? Democratically elected or not, it is a travesty for anyone to recognize them as legitimate leaders.

Sorry for the rant, but liberal racist apologism disgusts me.

Obama will not support the Palestinians on this one. Nor will any other American leader. Kinda lame to blame Bush on this one. The conflict predates him by *just a litte bit*.

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

BTW sorry about the Hezbollah - Hamas confusion in the last paragraph. Both backed by Iran, both calling for the destruction of Israel, but otherwise fundamentally different.

Israel does seem to be responding excessively this time compared to past conflicts. You could have a valid point about elections.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Metro said...

Hi STTD, and welcome back. Sorry to have flipped the switch like that. But glad you felt able to express your disagreement so forcefully.

My main point, really, is that there's not a great deal of difference between killers. I feel that Israel's response is over the top. That doesn't mean I somehow believe Hamas is right.

Your second paragraph is especially troubling: Are you saying all Palestinians should move out of the area? To avoid the violence? For surely the same statement is equally applicable to Israelis, no?

Re. the abandonment by the Arab nations--would you rather Egypt, Syria, and Iran got more directly involved than they already are? Iran is a theocracy, Syria a Ba'ath dictatorship in all but name. Both have unquestionably funded terrorism. So what do you think a full-scale invasion of a neighbouring country by "the enemy" is likely to gain for anyone, in terms of international relations in the area?

Re. Civillians: Can you cite a reliable source for this--I certainly wouldn't put it past Hamas, but I haven't seen a lot of reports about it. You'd think it'd be front-page news at the BBC or something.

And in any case, does that then not place double responsibility on the people who pull the trigger?

I notice also that you freely admit that Israel targets civillian buildings. Not trying to be annoying, but that's a Hamas tactic too.

No-one says it's fine for Hamas to launch rockets, no matter what the reason. And no-one claims Israel must take rocket fire sitting still. To say so is silly, and mischaracterizes my criticism of Israel: which is that the country seems to have a knack for disproportionate response.

No-one with any grounding in reality is suggesting that Israel drop all defence. But surely you see the difference between defending your land and invading someone else's?

And I'd bet it's certainly as hard to enter Israel as a Palestinian as it is to enter the Arab nations as a Jew. There's the blockade, for starters.

So, given that Hamas were elected to lead in Gaza, what do you think should be done? Is the large-scale invasion of a sovereign nation that elects @$$#013s an appropriate response? If so, why do we condemn other nations which do that?

Your rant is welcome here. Oh--but don't call me a racist.
For one thing, Judaism isn't a race, nor is Israeli. For another, I'm not biased against Israel or Jews. Nor Palestine or Muslims.

Murder in any cause is digusting, no matter who it's comitted by. Can we agree on that much?

And Bush deserves a great deal of blame for the current sorry state of things. He refused to broker for peace when he was elected, and didn't move on that front for seven years. He pushed for Palestinian elections against the advice of wiser heads, and when the wrong people got in publicly repudiated the poll.

From the Economist:
"GEORGE BUSH is not likely to be remembered by history as the saviour of the Middle East. He botched Iraq, dropped his democratic “freedom agenda” when the Arabs started voting for the wrong people, and has spent most of his two terms more or less ignoring Palestine."

I don't blame him for somehow instigating a sixty-year-old conflict. I blame him for refusing to use US influence to try and keep a lid on the conflict. It's quite possible that had he been more engaged on the issue, six hundred and six people would be alive today. Clinton gained inches. Bush let relations slide back several feet.

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Metro said...

Whoops. Just spotted your last. You understood my main point. Thanks for saying so.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

Thanks for your well thought out response and will respond in turn as well. Today have been too busy spreading the news that we are having a healthy baby girl. :)

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Metro said...

No way!

How to get the news out? ... If only you had a blog to post to or something ... ;-)

In all seriousness, thanks for sharing that with me and the Avid Fans (all four-point-five of them). And best wishes to you and to Mr. STTD.

Don't rush any reply--with any luck there'll be a ceasefire in place by the time we sit down to our muttons again.

 

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