Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Middle East Part 2

(see the first part of this post below. I divided it up so that my readers' eyes wouldn't glaze over too much).

This is where the current crisis fits, I think. I in no way condone Hamas or Hezbollah. If anything, both play right into the hands of the Zionist narrative. But Israel bears at least some complicity for the situation. Democratic, thriving Arab states on Israel’s borders are not in there interests. It is in Israel’s interests to have failed states on its borders that it can demonize as terrorist regimes. I find it disingenuous to imagine that no one in the best intelligence service in the world (Mossad) could have Israel’s campaign against Fatah would cause the more extremist Hamas to win. (remember Fatah and Arafat had made moves to recognize Israel’s right to exist as early as the late 1960s). This current war has completely destroyed the possibility of creating a moderate, democratic Palestinian state, at least for the foreseeable future. Depopulating southern Lebanon and destroying the fragile infrastructure of a nation that had just begun to turn the corner after almost 20 years of civil war seems to be the wrong strategy to engender moderate, pro-Israel feeling in Lebanon.

The moment Hezbollah puts down its arms and fully joins the democratic process in Lebanon or the Palestinians work out their differences and create some sort of stable government in Gaza is the moment that Israel has to deal with both as equal partners. Dealing with the Palestinians as equal negotiating partners is an anathema to most Israelis in power. It goes against the fundamental founding myth of the state of Israel.

Let me draw a perhaps poor analogy. Numerous federal agents have been killed and kidnapped by Mexican drug gangs operating along the southern US-Mexico border. Many along that border feel threatened by worsening security. As a result, the US and Mexico have stepped up partnership on cross-border security issues (for the most part). The US does not invade northern Mexico or bomb Valladolid in the south to root out the criminals. That is how two sovereign states handle issues of common concern. Some may say that Israel is more threatened by Hezbollah or Hamas. As I recall, the massive cross border bombings by Hezbollah were in response to Israel’s bombings (not to excuse the kidnapping of the soldiers) and that Israel held multiple Palestinian citizens it accused of terrorism (both moderate and radical) before Hamas stupidly kidnapped their soldier.

Another analogy: Say someone takes over the first two floors of your home and the attic, relegating you to the unfinished basement. Some of your family members do not fit in the basement, so they must flee to neighboring homes. Those neighbors do not really want you around, so they force your family to squat on the parkway between the sidewalk and the street. To go upstairs to get food from the fridge or to leave the house to go to work, you must pass through checkpoints set up by the new occupants of your home. Sometimes they let you through, sometimes they refuse. After repeated attempts to do so, you realize that you cannot throw out the new residents, and, pressured by your neighbors who never like you anyway, you grudgingly admit that the new residents belong there and can not be moved. You attempt many strategies, violent and non-violent to gain more of the house or to loosen restrictions on your movement in and out of your basement. Finally, compromises are reached. You get overexcited and claim more than you should and immediately are denounced by your neighbors and the local housing authority for not taking the basement and one exit. The head of your family is demonized and trapped in the utility closet by the new residents. Finally, he dies and in the scramble to find a new leader, the new residents and the neighbors denounce your choice.

So that’s a brief sketch of how I approach Israel-Arab conflict in the Middle East. There a raft of “multiplexities” (to quote Grandpa from the Boondocks) and I’m sure the comments section (if anyone choses to read and comment) will be filled with invective and rebuttal.

If there ever was a time to pray for peace in the Middle East and cooler heads to prevail, it is now.

Now more than ever:Peace. To all. Right now, no matter what color, creed, or nationality


Mike Doyle said...

I'm not going to take sides in this debate. Well, the hell I'm not, if Kennedy can say "I am a Berliner" I can say "I am a Palestinian". But I'm posting to say you're very courageous to write about this topic and you do so eloquently. More power to you.

There is some good stuff on AlterNet about this issue. If you haven't yet, you should take a look.

Greg said...

thanks jack. very helpful and balanced. I feel a similar tension. Trying to identify with pain and oppression and helplessness of the "arab" groups, whether hezbollah, hamas, etc...while at the same time not condoning all of their actions. In the meantime, I'm feel like criticizing the typical evangelical pro-israel position while realizing that if I were being bombed I'd certainly flex my muscles to put an end to it.

complicated for sure.

I appreciated the references to the bantustans in S. Africa. I'm 1/2 way thru Mandela's autobiography and it is conditioning me nicely. In fact, if I had a job right now, I might stay at home tomorrow in defiance of something or other.

I'll try to keep watching the coverage, reading, etc. and may fire some more questions your way.

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