Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Roots of the conflict

Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon

This articles explains that the current crisis is not as black and white as some like to see it. It’s not just a simple matter of attack and counter-attack, not just terrorists fighting for their freedoms against a heavily armed and (US) backed conventional army engaging in self-defence. Against the backdrop of the now three-weeks-and-counting conflict, there are historical wounds that have not healed but continued to be ripped open time and again:

Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Why is it that Israel can openly discriminate against Arabs and Palestinians—in practices reminiscent of the Apartheid regime—but cry foul and anti-Semitism and invoke the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust whenever it is condemned? The complacence of the international community, namely the ‘west’, adds to the insult, and does not bode well for the Arab states in the region who see Israel’s existence and behaviour as a black sheep which everyone else has been forced to coexist with, despite the continuing harassment and dehumanising treatment of the Palestinians:

“Is it not understandable that Israel's ethnic preoccupation profoundly offends not only Palestinians, but many of their Arab brethren? Yet rather than demanding that Israel acknowledge its foundational wrongs as a first step toward equality and coexistence, the Western world blithely insists that each and all must recognize Israel's right to exist at the Palestinians' expense.

Western discourse seems unable to accommodate a serious, as opposed to cosmetic concern for Palestinians' rights and liberties: The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.”

And this article suggests that the conflict is not just simply about religion. Religion may be a torch to garner support and awe, but in the Middle East of today—and the global war on terror for that matter—religion is a side issue, overshadowed by the other materialistic (as opposed to spiritual) motivations:

“All fighting parties in the Middle East appeal to God. By this, the impression existst that the conflicts in the region are religious conflicts: Jews against Muslims, Muslims against Christians, Shi’tes against Sunnites. These conflicts revolve in fact not around theological differences, but around land and power.

Arabian politicians have raised the manipulation of religion to a form of art."
>>Dirk Vlasblom, ‘Conflicten Midden-Oosten zijn niet religieus’ [Conflicts Middle East are not religious], 21 July 2006, NRC Handelsblad

"Let us leave the anti-Semitism, which indeed existed in Europe, out of it. In many centuries and in many countries Jews and Arabs have lived together peacefully. Now that European anti-Semitism has led to the establishment of the state of Israel, I see the war between Lebanon and Israel in the same light as for example the war between Iraq and Iran. The way in which Shi’ites are now suddenly painted as dangerous devils is laughable if you think about how the American invasion in Iraq was argued for by pointing to the way Saddam Hussein persecuted the Shi’ites in that country. Countries have inhabitants and inhabitants have religion, but that is no reason to give every war a religious tint.”
>>Grijs, ‘Vergissing’ [Mistake], p79, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland

“Enduring Freedom” has become synomynous with ‘enduring chaos’. There is no solution to ending the daily car bombs, suicide attacks, attacks and counter attacks, even with the newly installed governments that the US seems all too naively want to believe would placate the local populations in Iraq, and beyond. It is an illusion that neocons in Washington invest in the faith that regime change will cure all of the ills in the Middle East:

“[…] the democratic tinkering, that the ‘war against terror’ would have to be concluded by installing pro-western elites from bourgeois social backgrounds in power, has in most countries where free, or half-free elections have taken place, lead to reasonable gain for anti-western, Muslim fundamentalist parties. This has happened from Iran up to and including Pakistan, through Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrein. The electorate refused to approve of a one-sided American politics, [the results of] which the Arabic satellite broadcasters show the meaninglessness of daily: the chaos in Iraq as a result of the occupation.”
>>Gilles Kepel, ‘Eind van de unilateral illusie’ [End of the unilateral illusion], p82, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland

The stance the US is taking towards the current conflict—ie no stance—exposes the very selfish and hypocritical interests the world’s military superpower and advocate of freedoms.

“[…] democratisation [is for] Washington no longer priority, to the relief of the authoritarian regimes and to the embitterment of the democrats of the Middle East. The latter feel especially betrayed because the US has done nothing in Lebanon, the only country where elections did not lead to a Muslim fundamentalist victory, to protect the country against attacks from Israel. [Not] even in demanding a ceasefire.”

And then there is the ongoing maltreatment of the Palestinians, which is a rallying cause for all Arabs, regardless of their religious faith. Anneke Mouthaan--co-founder of 'Een Ander Joods Geluid' [A Different Jewish Voice], which is concerned about the absence of peace and justice in the region, and critical of Israel's continuing oppressive behaviour-- says:
"Gaza, which Israel has now pulled out from, isone big prison with 1.4 million people inside. The Palestinians may not rebuild their harbour, not use their airpor, the borders are cordonned off by Israelis. They cultivate flowers and fruits there, but if Irasel hinders the exports thereof, the whole lot rots. In the past past two years the economy there went further down the drain. For many Israelis Palestinians are people you do not need to take into consideration. I heard children say: Palestinians are cockroaches."
>>Malou van Hintum, 'Volgens Anneke Mouthaan' [According to Anneke Mouthaan], p6-8, 12 August 2006,
Vrij Nederland
It is unacceptable, this kind of discrimination and intolerance within Israel. And it will only get worse if the international community and Israel continues to allow it to happen and dares not cricise:
"Israel is busy digging its own grave. Through the bombardments now and the oppression of the Palestinian people, the hatred towards the country will only become greater. But Israel does not want to listen. Every criticism is rejected as an expression of anti-Semitism. That victim-mentality, that we must now finally set aside. It is true, other than the Jews there has never been a people that was murdered on such a grand scale and so systematically. But we are not the only victims in world history. Three million Cambodians have been murdered, more than one and a half million Armenians, hundreds of thousands of Hutus and Tutsis. And then also the victims in Darfur."
About sowing hatred and propoganda, both sides are guilty. The more misunderstanding and stereotypes you feed the public, and the children, the more the conflict and hatred between the
peoples of the Middle East will deepen. Al Manar, the second largest Arabic satellite channel after Al Jazeera, is a Lebanese broadcaster:

" "In peacetime, Al Manar is objective [...] but in the case of our national wawr against Israel you cannot remain objective. All other Arabic television broadcasters do the same--of course we choose sides." [says Ali Hashem, war correspondent for the broadcaster] We show the suffering of the Arabic peoples, the suffering that is being created by Israel and America." "
>>Harald Doornbos, 'Natuurlijk kiezen wij partij' [Of course we choose sides], p14-19, 12 August, 2006,
Vrij Nederland
It has been banned in France and the Netherlands for sending out anti-Semitic messages, such as:
"The Jews helped [to spread] AIDS in the world. Jews form a cancerous tumour that must be removed for the body to become healthy again. Jews are decendants of pigs and apes. Jews try to get rid of Arabs through the bird flu epidemic. Jews are according to Allah the greatest cowards and are above all stingy. Jews need the blood of Christian to bake bread. Jews are snakes that try to entice youths to alcohol and corrutpion. Israel (or as Al Manar always labels the country: The Zionist Enemy) must be completely-- utterly completely-- erased from the earth. Jews use Tom and Jerry to create sympathy for mice and other vermin."

Simply shocking. Espeically that last part.

  • Israelis sodliers who refuse to attack civilians
  • Bold statements, weak action
    " President Bush sees the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as "an opportunity." Condoleezza Rice calls it "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." These statements are likely to be remembered by history as even more iconically absurd than Vice President's Cheney's description of the Iraqi insurgency as being "in its last throes." "
    " It would be simplistic to lay this mess at the feet of US foreign policy. But America does bear some responsibility. Preferring its "Axis of Evil" rhetoric to reality, it has chosen not to engage Iran. It has also shunned direct talks with Syria. Yet these countries are the two principal sources of physical and moral support for Hezbollah. Of equal consequence, the US has been largely AWOL on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for six years. Its love of elections brought Hamas to power in the Palestinian territories."

  • Speaking of opportunities and birth, why not redivide Iraq and the Middle East to better reflect the population and races that live there?
    "They have a new constitution, a new government and a new military. But faced with incessant sectarian bloodshed, Iraqis for the first time have begun openly discussing whether the only way to stop the violence is to remake the country they have just built.
  • The partition idea my not be such a crazy one, as US luitenant-colonel Ralph Peters recently wrote in the Armed Forces Journal.

    "Accepting that international statecraft has never developed effective tools — short of war — for readjusting faulty borders, a mental effort to grasp the Middle East's "organic" frontiers nonetheless helps us understand the extent of the difficulties we face and will continue to face. We are dealing with colossal, man-made deformities that will not stop generating hatred and violence until they are corrected."

    "Frankenstein's monster of a state sewn together from ill-fitting parts, Iraq should have been divided into three smaller states immediately."

    Kurds, Baluchans, Indus, Sunnis, Shi'ite scattered all over the region. With borders redrawn and current states downsized as new states are created, many of the inter-ethnic and religious infighting as well as conflicts over land and resources would cease, or at least wane.
    "Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today's Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Persia."

    And terrorism would gradually disappear as the causes of dispute disappear:
    "From the world's oversupply of terrorists to its paucity of energy supplies, the current deformations of the Middle East promise a worsening, not an improving, situation. In a region where only the worst aspects of nationalism ever took hold and where the most debased aspects of religion threaten to dominate a disappointed faith, the U.S., its allies and, above all, our armed forces can look for crises without end."
  • No need to bring in Iran or Syria or any other Axis of Evil members into the conflict. It's Israel, the US and Europe who are causing the troubles, and who hold the key to stopping it all:
    "What does this Western obsession over Iran and Syria's support for Hezbollah mean? Do their media also go to the trouble of specifying that Israel is supported by the United States and Europe?"

    "My answer about Iran and Syria's role [...] is summarized by Condoleezza Rice's speech. She keeps calling for a 'Greater Middle East.' Well then, here it is! Confronted with the American-Zionist plan for the systematic destruction of Lebanon, the 'Greater Middle East' is reacting in chorus to defend its rights. Hezbollah's objective has never changed. Since its creation, its role has been to fight against Israeli occupation and aggression in Lebanon. We represent the resistance of all Lebanese. Syria and Iran take our country's fate to heart. That's normal.

  • I came across this site which contained a whole list of reasons why Israel is being criminalised for all the wrong reasons. I'm not sure what to believe--a running list of how terrible the Arabs were and how the Jewish people were there in the first place according to the Bible, or the current disporportionate actions and (deliberate or not) attacks on civilians.




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