Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holy War

It's holy war. Both sides are right. Both sides are wrong. Emotional, extreme responses to horrible cruelty, multiplied by the ravages of history. Both sides are mired in who did what to whom and when. Both sides say they won't stop until the other side stops.

The most powerful, but most unpopular player teaches the lesser a lesson, after locking them up behind concrete barriers where there is no safe haven. The vengeful underdog only needs to continue living to be victorious. Symbolic revenge missions are undertaken, casualties ensue. The powerful becomes more and more vengeful, unpopular, and impotent with every passing moment. The underdog wins more and more support against the powerful. Self-Defense, revenge, retaliation.......

Why is it self-defense for one side and terrorism for the other? Why does this equation work forwards and backwards? Are they all now blind and toothless? Are they deaf too? Both sides are now behaving as terrorist states. From Anna in Jordan:

.....the stated purpose of the attack [by Israel] is to drive out Hamas,
i.e. to kill anyone in Hamas and scare the rest into turning against 
Hamas. Not only does this tactic not work (brutality fosters
 violence), but it clearly fits the definition of terrorism: unlawful
 violence intended to frighten or coerce a people or government in
order to achieve a political or ideological agenda. Israel is 
operating as a terrorist state in the true sense of the word. 

Hamas is also a terrorist organization by this definition, so it would 
be easy to simplify the conflict as "an endless cycle of violence"
were there no historical context. But there is a context, and there 
are alternatives.

From the Dreyfus Report at The Nation:

As I've written in this space earlier, the outcome of Israel's action is likely to be to strengthen, not weaken, Hamas. It will also have the following collateral effects: it will undermine the moderate wing of the Palestinian movement, perhaps fatally. It will weaken the government of Egypt, boosting the power of the radical-right Muslim Brotherhood there, to the point where Egypt's regime could collapse, with incalculable consequences. It will boost radicalism across the region, especially its Islamist variant, in Lebanon and Iraq in particular, and help Iran gain traction among otherwise unreceptive Arab populations.

Both sides ARE blind. Both sides can't hear. No one can find fault with BOTH parties.

Robert Sheer:

While the Hamas rocket attacks are reprehensible, they are also an ineffectual challenge to Israel's enormous security apparatus, and the severity of Israel's response to them is counterproductive. Clearly, the very existence of Israel is not now, nor has it ever been, seriously challenged by anything the Palestinians did.

The high moral claim of the Israeli occupation rests not on the objective reality of a Palestinian threat to Israel's survival, but rather on the non sequitur cry that "never again" should harm come to Jews as it did in Central Europe seven decades ago.

The basic argument is that Palestinian terrorists represented by Hamas are given to an irrational hatred of Jews so profound that it invalidates their movement, even when they win elections. That was not the view of the Israeli security service when it earlier supported Hamas as the alternative to the then dreaded PLO.

Where are the voices that reflect the uncompromising morality of Einstein's generation of Jewish intellectuals willing to acknowledge fault and humanity on both sides of the political equation?

David Waas:

This war is wrong because it cannot achieve peace for Palestinians and Israelis. It is morally wrong because the persons who are suffering are innocent of any crime. It is wrong because it is creating more hatred and greater determination on the part of both peoples to do harm to each other. The war is also unnecessary, cruel, and cynical -- a war that could have been avoided by courageous leadership.

There is always a Human Face to the suffering. These are the victims. Leadership is needed NOW to stop this conflict. Voices of reason must be found to silence those bent on extremism. I weep.

[note: I did try and find some reports of Israeli civilian casualties and while there have been many, the ratio is now nearly 200 Gazans to each Israeli casualty. The reports were about the human casualties, but only reported as the reason to be even more harsh in response. The human faces are much harder to find.]

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