The Salon II

Monday, July 17, 2006

On perspective... and the brink of World War III

It seems somewhat surreal, yet not really surprising. The round-up speaks for itself: Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel are are up to their little lethal games again; Iran is promising support to Syria if it were invaded by Israel; Israel is threatening preemptive strikes against nuclear sites in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have evolved into unpredictable quagmires; North Korea is threatening a second Korea war, Japan is considerng preemptive strikes; the desolation in Sudan/Darfur, Somalia, Congo and other African countries, has left Africa vulnerable to many crises; Nature is not giving us a break, with hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and a second tsunami in Indonesia today; We are not giving nature a break with global warming; etc, etc, etc... World War III, anyone?

Newspapers from my country - Congo - often have so much to cover with the internal chaos, that the International pieces tend towards perfunctory platitudes. Imagine my surprise at reading this article from Le Potentiel[fr] on the new crisis in the Middle East. The author comments on the fact that since Arabs are the ones suffering the greater amount of casualties, World leaders at the G8 treated the question with much less than if Israel was the one suffering the greater number of deaths, the US would probably already be on the ground, as they value Israeli lives more than Arab lives.

Here, in the United States, it has become suicidal for any politician to express even the smallest blame towards Israel. As a result of decades of Israeli/Jewish political influence on US politics, the perspective of the average American is VERY biased in favor of Israel. That is not true outside ot the US. I used my country's newspaper because in Congo, there is no particular love lost for the Lebanese, and/or Arabs in general. The average Congolese tend to resent the fact that Lebanese families own a great portion of the food and electronics market in their country, and the fact that some Lebanese business-owners treat their workers in a very racist way. But despite this, they still sympathize with the Lebanese in this conflict, because there seems to be a fundamental injustice in the situation.

At the end of the day, the whole crisis comes down to the conflict between the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of the Holy land, that we know as Palestinians and Israelis. It is all a matter of perspective. If one wishes to defend Israel, one points out the fact that she is surrounded by Arab and Islamic countries, that do not - let's say - particularly like them. If one wishes to defend the Palestine - and yes I said Palestine - and the Palestinians, one points out that the very process of the creation of the very Jewish state of Israel (Arab Israelis are second-class citizens), on a territory that was inhabited, resulting in a refugee crisis, was the root cause of what we are now living.

Do not get me wrong, I am not one of those who thinks that the State of Israel should disappear. Most of the young Israelis know no other country as home. I am a big proponent of the right of the land: you are born there, it's your home. But I want the almighty UK, to admit that the current crisis is as much the fault of their ill-conceived plan of relocation of the Jews - that they did not want by the way - to the Holy land, as it is the fault of the reaction to that by the Palestinians.

I do not, and indeed will never, caution terrorism. But I find it curious that for once that instead of attacking civilians, the militant movements (Hamas and Hezbollah) attacked soldiers, the response by the Israelis is to fall in the trap of an all out war. And worse: Israel attacks the entire country of Lebanon, and kills civilians, in punishment for a militant group's actions. In other words, they are frightening the Lebanese people into rejecting Hezbollah, the one group that succeeded in kicking Israel out of South Lebanon 6 years ago. Isn't that the very essence of terrorism?

The Israeli government, Hezbollah, Hamas... terrorist organizations. Their victims: The Jewish and Arab populations of the Middle East. The one contry that has the leverage to change the situation: The United States, by adopting a more even-handed approach to the conflict. Until the US politicians start thinking of justice and equity, instead of campaign dollars, there is very little hope of this mess not ending in World War III.


  • Excellent commentary. I agree with you that the US needs to take a more even handed approach. Personally, with friends from both sides, it sickens me to see the destruction and stupidity. I have added your blog to my RSS reader, please keep up the intelligent dialogue.

    By Blogger basean44, at 3:01 PM  

  • Your remark about the difficulty in the US to express blames towards Israel is actually true in other countries.
    In France also, it has become suicidal to criticise Israel and the confusion between country and religion is frequent. Let's not forget that being Israeli doesn't mean being jewish. That's one point.
    I am surprised by your other statement "If you are born there, it's your home".
    Talking about Israel, most of the people living in Israel and now claiming it to be their land weren't actually born in the country.
    Talking about other countries, and Congo in particular, what about the Belgians that were born and grown in Congo ? Is it their country ?
    I had a while ago a quite animated discussion about this with my ex-husband. I could understand his point of view, refusing to hear a belgian born in Zaïre call it "his country", but I could also understand the despair of Belgians who suddenly had to go and leave in a country (Belgium) where they had never step one foot and sometimes even had no family links or whatsoever left there.
    And if the whole idea that a country belongs to someone was just stupid ? I know, i'm far from the subject now and maybe a bit naive, but I believe that this beautiful planet belongs to all of us.
    That's what we should start with.

    By Anonymous Michoko, at 1:06 AM  

  • basean44: Thank you for your comment, and as soon as I can get off the case of the elections in my country (on The Salon I), I will be back here.

    Michoko: My very dear Michoko, as I said, it is my perspective. I am a firm believer in patriotism, but I am also convinvced that the notion of the Westphalia-based nation-state is growing increasingly obsolete. But as long as it is here, I am a firm supporter of both the right of blood, AND/OR the right of land. When I am talking about Israelis that have those rights, I am talking about the Palestine-born Jewish youth, and of course their families. Similarly, I am definitely for the right of return for Palestnian refugees.

    As for Congolese people of Belgian-descent, that's fine with me.

    By Blogger TheMalau, at 4:23 AM  

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