Quidnovi: ISMAEL~ISRAEL    
 ISMAEL~ISRAEL2 comments
picture26 Feb 2003 @ 01:47, by Quidnovi

"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
Not any religion
Or cultural system.
I am not from the east
Or the west. (……)
I belong to the beloved,
Have seen the two worlds as one
And that one call to and know,
First, last, outer, inner,
Only that breath breathing

Sadly, I've had to deal with more than my share of fanaticism on the Israeli-Palestinian question from extremists from both sides of the conflict already (more than I wanted to really---this is what you get for being a moderator.) It therefore comes as no surprise to me to see that such passional and irrational arguments eventually (and very unfortunately) seem to have found their way on NCN.

It doesn't surprise me but it does sadden me however, hatred is not a pleasant thing to behold and I can only regret to see it manifest here again in a place I would have thought would be immune from such excesses. I think about what peace-brokers must have to go through when arbitrating negotiations and I shudder.

It reminds me of an article, The Intifadeh and Israel for Dummies by Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, who also contributed "The War on Terrorism for Dummies," and "The Middle East for Dummies." (Holder of a Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at San Diego State University and Western Washington University.) In "The Intifadeh and Israel for Dummies", Bernard Weiner tries, among other things, to answer a very pointed question:

Q. Why can't there be at least a cease-fire between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

A. Your question rests on an assumption that either or both sides want peace. Maybe the majority of both peoples would be amenable to peace, if it came with enough justice and security, but the leaders have other agendas -- and right now, because of all the wanton slaughter, have been able to bring a good section of their frightened, angry peoples along with them. In so doing, the Middle East is living in a soul blackout, and there's no estimate on when moral power will be restored.

The point is that misery knows no borders, it has no race, no color and no nationality, AND both the suicide-bombers and Ariel Sharon are killers of the innocent.

In an article, dated April 9, 2002, published in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Scheer wrote the following still very relevant article:


"For many, being Jewish carries with it the lessons of universal tolerance and compassion, while for others it is a "never again" pride in the military power of a David turned modern-day Goliath.

This latter allusion to the Holocaust, a horror that occurred in the center of modern European civilization and had little to do with the Arabs, nonetheless provides the enduring rationale for Israeli brutality in the name of self-defense. What irony that many Jews now comfortably vacation in Germany but insist that Arab anti-Semitism is an immutable aspect of Muslim culture that can be met only with the crushing power of tanks. Not that anyone asked me, but those are not my tanks careening around the West Bank bringing fear and havoc in their wake. Yet they are marked as Jewish tanks and consequently they and I bear some familial resemblance on my mother's side. I am thus obligated to consider what cruelty is being done in the name of defending my people.
Sharon is a man of barbaric impulse, demonstrated all too clearly in his terrorizing of civilians two decades ago in Lebanon and now on the West Bank. He has been a consistent provocateur, undermining peace efforts no matter their content, and now he is using his tanks to poison the ground for future generations.

And yes, Yasser Arafat also has poisoned the ground under his feet and shares responsibility with Sharon for the breakdown of the peace process.

Both are killers of the innocent. Both are to be roundly condemned by all, and the failure of prominent moderate Arabs to do their part to restrain Arafat is all too obvious. No less a moral offense is the acquiescence of too many Jews, in Israel and abroad, to the comparable crimes of Sharon.

What does Ariel Sharon hope to achieve with his offensive in the West Bank? Surely not put an end to the wave of terrorism that has been plaguing Israel. I recently saw a documentary in which Ariel Sharon is seen answering questions from young Israeli soldiers (You've got to hand it to him, the man has guts, and even though I do not agree with his expansionists aspirations, I do grant him that he is strategically brilliant.) To the question of one defiant soldier who was asking him what they were doing there and expressing his doubts that such an offensive would stop terrorism. Sharon had to concede that it wouldn't, but amended that it would give the terrorists a serious blow and somewhat slow them down.

Somehow, I doubt it will.

And so does Axel Kahn, author of "Getting on, getting by":

"Recent events show that the worst may still be to come, that the spiral may descend still further into the unbelievable if we do not improve the situation in time.

The descent started with the frustration of the Palestinians, disappointed by the impasse in the Oslo process; the provocation by Ariel Sharon on Temple Mount was added to the permanent provocation of hundreds of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory, ever growing, ever more populated.

Then came the intifada, repression, blockade of the territories, unemployment, poverty, an unbearable despair which creates a fertile ground for fanaticism and the culture of death. If you are a Palestinian aged 20, unable to see any future in this world while heroism and paradise are gloriously described to you, how can you be immune to the idea of sacrificing yourself to hurt the enemy? Human bombs in cafes and discos, young people torn apart, eye for eye. And tooth for tooth, tanks, bulldozers, killings. Madness.

This has been going on for more than 50 years. Children who are beaten become violent adults, and abusive parents. So perhaps we will find ourselves, in another 50 years, with the same certainties, mutual denunciations, the same violence, reprisals, counter reprisals, revenge. It may happen unless those who kill and those who suffer (and often they are the same), and those who support and manipulate them, agree to tell the truth: everyone has suffered, everyone has reasons to fight, and no one can win.

Whatever the fantasies of the most extreme Islamist groups, the Jews will not be thrown into the sea, nor the state of Israel overthrown. For obvious reasons, historical and psychological, the peoples of the West will not allow it. And whatever the nostalgia for a Greater Israel, there will not be a lasting Jewish state from the River Jordan to the borders of Sinai. Demography, law and the uneasy conscience of the West preclude it.

One day, in two or 100 years, the peoples who live in the land of Palestine will each have their own state. There may be 2,000 or 100,000 deaths. But Jews and Arabs, whose dead already share the valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, will have to turn this city into a capital for both peoples.

The responsibility of the West, Europe and the US, for creating the Arab-Israeli maelstrom means that their word will not be enough. Solidarity, responsibility, means not just stopping opposing sides from disappearing; it means repairing, building, always trying to convince.

Mistrust, even hatred, will continue, but it is not necessary to love one another to co-exist: it is enough to be convinced that it is the only solution. Violent recognized each other and co-existed. So there must be peace now, for the price will be even heavier tomorrow. Those who fight against peace betray their people. If a child born in this land is to see anything other than terror and vengeance, the settlements must be dismantled, Israel must have secure borders, and the Palestinians must have a proper state, viable, recognized and respected.

When I was in my teens a friend, who was active in a Zionist movement, took me to one of her group's parties. I can still see the posters: "Israel will win, in peace if God wills, if not through war". War? Can God want that? It will not guarantee Israel's future. Only peace and mutual recognition can do that."

Who will posterity call Israel and Palestine's true heroes? Rabin and Sadat, or Sharon and Sheikh Yassin? Uncertain hope or certain misery? Is that really a question?

The question is not "which came first, occupation or terrorism?", but whether life truly advances through fanaticism and repression or through the actions of men of vision. Will peace be achieved through men who look to the past or through men who look to the future?

Because I have developed over time an affinity for the Prime Directive :-), I have tried to stay away form all this, but I can see from the increasingly fanatical nature of the posts on one particular NCN's Newslog that there are some among us who are "Palestinian-haters." I am not judging them on that. (I suppose that we all have our issues and all have our reasons for the way in which we choose to address them. And I also know that all too often it is the issues that chose us and not the other way around.) I am not questioning them either, I am just questioning the forum in which they have chosen to express their views.

Why not an Israeli-Palestinian group on the web (there are many) where they could have a real debate on the issues with people knowledgeable of such things who would be eager to respond to their posts and exchange opinions in earnest with them???

One specific Newslog in particular has left me confused and somewhat uneasy. People familiar with NCN's newslogs will have no doubt noticed that most here are concerned with the idea of building a better future. Some recent virulent member of NCN, on the other hand, has (beside some occasional token post, here and there) done nothing but promote outrageous anti-Palestinian propaganda of the most heinous kind. In other words, while seemingly choosing to associate with a Network known to "link people who change the world" (or who at least are trying to come together in being part of a constructive solution to the problems of our world), that new member has, through the inflammatory nature of her posts, been emulating the behavior of those in the world whose fanaticism is part of some of those very problems.

What gives? What is she trying to achieve here?
Proselytism? Surely, not!

Remember that Zen Buddhist saying?

"To point at the moon a finger is needed, but woe to those who take the finger for the moon."

Simplistic Slides Show and quotes can seem inspiring, but they can also be a dangerous facility and are often misleading. Especially when dealing with cultures known for their posturing and verbal excesses. (And a very, very complex political situation).

The propaganda game of quotes cuts both way and solves nothing. I've heard them all, believe me. Here are but just a few from the other side.

"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel...Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours."-Rafael Eitan, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, quoted in Yediot Ahronot, April 13, 1983, and The New York Times, April 14, 1983.
"[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the 'Beasts,"' New Statesman, June 25,1982.
"We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return."-David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, July 18, 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar's "Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet," Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.
"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."-Israel Koenig, "The Koenig Memorandum."
"We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters."-Uri Lubrani, Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's special adviser on Arab Affairs. Source: "The Arabs in Israel" by Sabri Jiryas.
"...the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish...with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary."-Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency's Colonization Department. From "Israel: an Apartheid State" by Uri Davis, p. 5.
"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...Everything we don't grab will go to them."-Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.
"Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."-Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, "Complete Diaries," June 12, 1895 entry.

Had enough, yet? I know I do.

There is another way!

"There is a way of breathing
that's a shame and a suffocation
And there's another way of expiring,
a love breath, that let's you open infinitely"

It's no secret that Sharon has always been against any sort of peace deal, unless on terms entirely impossible for Palestinians to accept. In 1979, as a member of Begin's cabinet, he voted against a peace treaty with Egypt. In 1985 he voted against the withdrawal of Israeli troops to the so-called security zone in Southern Lebanon. In 1991 he opposed Israel's participation in the Madrid peace conference. In 1993 he voted No in the Knesset on the Oslo agreement. The following year he abstained in the Knesset on a vote over a peace treaty with Jordan. He voted against the Hebron agreement in 1997 and objected to the way in which the withdrawal from southern Lebanon was conducted. And I am sure that the Temple Mount/Haram A-Sharif incident is still fresh enough in everyone's mind that I don't need to delve into it here.

I do not claim to be a political expert on the matter but judging from the kind of pieces our "house expert" has been posting lately I can take comfort in the fact that I am not--by far--the only one to be lacking in that domain and if you want my opinion, an end to the suicide-bombing is not what's at the center of the issue. Not in so far as the Likud party is concerned. Try "transfer" instead!

The whole issue is about Demography (always has been)!

In Sharon's Greater Israel there are now 5.1m Jews against 4.1m Palestinians; these Palestinians will become the majority in 2010, and in 2020 they will grow to 8.1m against 6.7m Jews.

In the hardliners' view, Israel has only two weapons [beside apartheid or the recognition of a Palestinian State] with which to counter this "threat": massive Jewish immigration and/or an equally great expulsion of the Palestinians. Immigration on such a scale seems scarcely credible, short of an outbreak of extreme anti-Semitic violence in the West. Expulsion, known as "transfer" the dream of part of the Israel right could hardly take place in cold blood. It would require some extreme situation, a regional conflagration, for instance.

And that, is that toward which Sharon has consistently been endeavoring for quite some times, now. And he did get his wish. There are other ways to the Demography issue of course; one of them is the recognition of a Palestinian State. But I suspect (and I am not alone) that this is at the bottom of Sharon's list.

I am no friend of Arafat, but it is clear to me that he would have a lot to gain from a peace treaty, for one thing he could become President of a Palestinian State (his path to get there is extremely complex politically for many reasons having to do with the extremists in his own camp and the duplicity of some of his Arab allies), Sharon, on the other hand, has no interest whatsoever in peace (other than under the form of a diktat which would spell political suicide for any Palestinian leader who would sign a treaty under such conditions----Sharon knows it.)

I think that unless one intends to deeply delve into the subject and really be serious about it one would be well advised to leave the issue alone and leave the easy "sound bite" and superficial one-liners to the propagandists.

Beyond the easy rhetoric, and all the duplicity, on BOTH sides it is ultimately and always, the people who pay the price and suffer. And it is not right to just assume that people "deserve" their leaders or to just claim as I was recently told (no one on NCN, fortunately) that "there comes a time when one must decide who must die!" The Palestinian people do not "deserve" Arafat (there is much more they do not deserve---it's more complicated than that, and I am not convinced that we would be better off without Arafat), and they do not "deserve" Sharon either and neither does the Israeli people.

Demonize the Palestinian people and I will show you Sharon and the Likud party's radical agenda!

Demonize Israel and I will show you Arafat and the Hamas' radical agenda!

Show me a "Military Pacificator" and I will show you a wolf in sheep's clothing.

"Mere human beings can't afford to be fanatical about anything. Not even about justice or loyalty. The fanatic for justice ends by murdering a million helpless people to clear a space for his law courts. If we are to survive on this planet, there must be compromises."
----Storm Jameson

(Your counter-propagandist for today :-)

[< Back] [Quidnovi]



8 Mar 2003 @ 22:50 by jazzolog : Happy Addition
I congratulate you, Francis, in allowing comments again. As you know I feel people referred to specifically in the Logs should be allowed rebuttal. True, one can mount a defense in one's own Log---and I tried that a year and a half ago when I got called some names and encountered a block at the entries (more recently I just shrug the stuff off and change my Contact List). Those tactics, however, deny the real benefits of progress possible through open and free debate. There may not be any---which is too bad. Apathy is the great deadener to a society---even a cyber-virtual one.  

9 Mar 2003 @ 14:44 by quidnovi : YOU, Richard, are an Happy Addition ;-)
Your point is well taken, my friend, but the truth is, in this particular instance, that the potential benefits of an "open and free debate", as you call it, do seem to me rather dubious---at best :-)

You know as I do that arguments of this type usually ramble, go off on all sorts of tangents and are filled with much irrelevancy and often with much heated emotion. There is often considerable hyperbole, overreaction and confusion. There is rarely a harmonious conclusion or resolution to such arguments---and as you so aptly pointed out yourself, usually they just stop.

In case the point had been missed, let me make it unambivalently clear here that my point was not so much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (a subject about which I claim no expertise and which just so happened to be the issue at hand here) than it was about denouncing FANATICISM and INTOLERANCES and something that seemed to look (to me) a lot like anti-Arab propaganda. I felt like it reflected poorly on NCN and that someone had to say something, so I did (though it was not my wish to come back to NCN so early---I was not planning to return until May 1 st.)

Now, do I have any interest in engaging in a flaming contest of "Arafat did this" and "Sharon did that", "oh yeah, well Ismael is a big nincompoop", "is not", "is too"...?
I have very little interest in that---and certainly no time for it. Furthermore, if you'll forgive me for saying so, I do find it a somewhat immature and uninformative way of interacting and a real turn-off. Sadly this is what much of the so-called "educated" debate we see on TV, on the news or on talk-shows, look like, those days. Those debates are seldom carried in a spirit of honest inquiry, as PROPAGANDISTS do not seek the truth, nor are they interested in determining a reasonable course of action or securing a resolution of the issues under discussion.

So, thank you for the thought but this is not my cup of tea, Richard, I have no interest to show off by trying to secure my upmanship over another person or by venting frustrations or tensions or hostility onto others. There are (too) many places for that on the web. I am tired of them. This is not what NCN is about.


Other entries in
19 Oct 2003 @ 20:05: A Brave New World Revisited
12 Oct 2003 @ 13:42: The Nationalist Nightmare
1 Oct 2003 @ 10:49: Means and Ends
21 Aug 2003 @ 11:09: Dogmas
17 Aug 2003 @ 17:01: The Human Effort
11 Aug 2003 @ 12:26: The Dark Age of Camelot
1 Jul 2003 @ 23:27: Welcome to the Machine
16 Apr 2003 @ 18:36: From Republic to Empire - A disturbing trend
13 Apr 2003 @ 23:22: Hans Blix: Is US sending out the wrong signal?
26 Mar 2003 @ 23:58: Beware

[< Back] [Quidnovi] [PermaLink]?