Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year’s Wishes: a Lump of Coal in your Stocking?

A Seasonal Missive from the CrazyComposer
Cartoons © by Ben Heine
A recent comment to submitted to this blog (posted here only recently due to a moderation error) asked my opinion on the content of a particular website relating to “a Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East conflict”. I have neglected to respond to the question, though the intervening time has given me a great deal to think about. Before addressing the issues raised in the website, however, there are some other things that I would like to say (well, it is my blog): The end of the year is always a time that arouses mixed feelings for me as I reflect on the things that have been accomplished, the many things that have not been done (for whatever reason), and the numerous other things that have been added to the list of things that I now want to do at some point in time. This is also the time that is used to reflect upon the events that have taken place in the world; what news has emerged as the most significant of the year, what individual(s) have had the most influence on our world … for better or worse.

Thus, the question regarding my thoughts on a website relating to Jewish/Palestinian relations seemed more than appropriate as it fit in perfectly with the seasonal reflections that my mind has been making; near existential musings, perhaps, on the state of our species and its ability to drag itself out of the mud and mire in which it is so firmly entrenched. The discussion of politics and political issues is one that can become deeply frustrating for me (quite quickly, at times, as it would seem my patience for the level of human idiocy is growing shorter and shorter with the passing of days), particularly when those involved refuse to allow themselves to see any other side of an issue merely because it represents an ideology that is foreign to their own political beliefs. This is especially apparent when it comes to the issues surrounding the “Jewish” state, also known as Israel, and the “Palestinian” question … or the “occupied territories”, or whatever other term has been used from time to time.

Let me be quite blunt about my position relating to Israel from the beginning, before even referring to the site in question and anyone else’s comments: if you are incapable of living in peace next to someone who is not of the same ethnic background, religion or political persuasion, you should move to another continent, shave all of your body hair off, cover yourself in honey and roll around in a nest of fire-ants. You should only dress in pink taffeta, and have the word “idiot loser” tattooed upon your forehead. The idea that we are unable to live next to people that are different from us, today – in the 21st century – is beyond anachronistic; it is a reflection of the most closed-minded, racist, bigoted, xenophobic idiocy that has ever inhabited this planet. If this is a description of a Jewish Israeli, too bad; if it describes a Palestinian, tough: when you point a finger at one person there are several pointing back towards you, so there are NO innocents in this conflict when people pre-judge their neighbours.

Ignorance kills; period. End of statement. While ignorance is near the top of that list, nationalism that is allowed to overrun an individual’s ability to reason is another thing that leads to death; such vehement belief systems are found within the supporters of Zionism and the fundamentalist supporters of the Palestinian movement. If this seems extreme, that is too bad; I’ve been listening to stories about the “war” going on in Israel since I was born, since the Israelis captured Jerusalem in 1968. If anyone honestly believes that this can be resolved by anything less than a fundamental shift in human behaviour. In order to promote such a change I propose a United Nations Joint Resolution: Be it resolved that all parties in Israel/Palestine shall live peacefully or they shall be deported to Albania (I hear it is lovely at this time of year … not). Any use of force or violence of any kind will result in an immediate deportation and fines against the government of no less than $1,000,000 (U.S. funds), to be paid to the families of victims/survivors.

I certainly doubt there would be too many “repeat offenders”.

The main premise of the author’s comments, from what I have gleaned from the reading, is that the peace process is doomed to failure, essentially, for the simple reason that the Zionist cause is honourable and just while the Arabs (also known as the Palestinians in this little saga) are completely untrustworthy, inherently dishonest, and predisposed to being deceptive when it comes to matters relating to negotiations.

From the outset the author has established that they do not believe that a lasting peace between the Jews and Palestinians (though he stubbornly refers to them as “Arabs” or, on rare occasions, “Palestinian Arabs” throughout the text) is not only impossible, it is “unusual, immoral, and illegal”. The only thing unusual about the author’s comments is that they so thinly veil the racism and hatred that the author possesses for the non-Jewish individuals making claims on the “Holy Land”. When reading things like “Peace process is highly unusual … illegal … immoral …” amongst many other completely meaningless straw-man arguments that are based on the acrimony aroused by generations of stubbornness making communication and reconciliation impossible.

The issue of peace in the middle-east, especially in Israel, always seems to come back to the subject of the land and the myriad issues that arise from the various parties involved. Is it possible to placate every side with one, all encompassing solution, a resolution that will satisfy the Zionist positions while also placating those of the Palestinians? Anyone that believes that it is, that the vitriol of centuries – nay, millennia – may be resolved after some discussions has allowed themselves to become enamoured by the seductive idea that “peace on earth, good will towards man” is something more than a line in a cleverly composed Christmas carol.

There truly is problem with the peace process, but unlike what the author of “We need a respite from peace” has written, it is not about what the Arabs/Palestinians bring to the table; it has everything to do with the process itself and the inherently flawed philosophy that has been invested into the very nature of the Holy Land and its relationship to Jews, Christians and Moslems. Any people proclaiming to be members of any of the aforementioned faiths who then use violence in order to advance their cause are, quite simply, hypocrites; they are anything but what they claim to be, and are certainly not representatives of the three faiths that call that piece of real estate the Holy Land.

We view the three religions as mere labels to apply to people regardless of the actions that are carried out in the names of those religions. Millions have been killed in the name of “God” (or “Allah”) while at the same time it is asserted that “Yahweh is merciful” and “God is love” and “Allah is benevolent” in classes for young believers in each faith. The problem is not that this teaching is flawed (this isn’t a polemic on the primacy of one faith over another, nor will I entertain such questions – my position should be apparent from previous posts), it lies in the fact that fundamentalism breeds fanaticism and fanaticism breeds minds that are perfectly prepared to be taken advantage of by ruthless individuals bent on promoting their own agendas, regardless of the costs in human lives.

I remember when a particularly vicious terrorist attack took place in Israel when I was a child, living in Sudbury. My parents tried to explain the situation to me as best they could, but the savagery of the situation made even their astute comments seem unable to fully explain the situation. It all boiled down to this, my father ultimately said; “how can you stop someone that is prepared to kill themselves in order to advance their cause?” It didn’t seem to matter whether or not you supported the claims of the Palestinians or disagreed with the policies of Israel; could you do so and agree with the tactics of the terrorist elements acting on behalf of the Palestinians?

No; violence does not bolster any position, it undermines the moral grounds of every argument and diminishes the legitimacy of any claim that may have existed. Violence begets violence and breeds mistrust, hatred, and a myriad of other negative things that work in opposition to true peace. More than anything else violence breaks the human spirit which then seeks something else to fill the void created by the legacy of violence.

There is only one way in which the Holy Land can experience the fruits of a genuine peace process, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the pale counterfeit that has been plaguing the region since the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. True peace will only come when the land is forgotten and people are given the priority that they deserve, the dignity that all humans are entitled too, regardless of their race, religion, or creed. When people are able to accept the differences that have driven them apart and decide that they can live beside each other in peace, there will be true peace; until then the process is an utter waste of time.

A recent example of the curse of fundamentalism has been provided through the brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The subsequent suicide bombing (by the same deranged individual) left many others dead and injured. Do not forget that there are other places in the world where “peace process” is a concept arousing desperation and acts beyond anything in which any sane individual should be engaged. Can anything profitable ever come out of this sort of violence; is it not possible to imagine that there is at least one qualified individual in all of Pakistan to replace Bhutto as the leader of the PPP?

Who was responsible for this act of ultimate inhumanity? There are some that are already saying that al-Qaeda is to blame, raising the question as to who had the most to gain from this vicious act. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who had the “most” to gain from this and other despicable acts; supposed gains made through violence are rendered as worthless as lead, tainted by the blood shed for them. It is easier to see that everyone loses when violence is used: we lose our dignity as humans, we abdicate our morality, and our spirits are diminished in the process.

If there is one comment the author of “Respite” has made that truly demonstrates the futility of the argument espoused by the Zionist fundamentalists it is the following: “Peace process is highly unusual. Every other nation destroyed whatever aborigines happened to live on the land that nation chose to build a state.” What the writer of those comments forgets, as many of their predecessors have and, alas, as many of those who follow in their footsteps shall inevitably do so as well, is that this is not an intellectual exercise in the realm of theories; we are dealing with real, living people here, people that have not been eliminated through a war of conquering or a subsequent genocide (how terribly inconvenient for Israeli). The people that Israel has to contend with have been living in the land for as long as the land has been promised to the Children of Israel. Is it the fault of the Palestinians that the forefathers of the modern Israelis were incapable of obeying the commands of the Lord?

The Old Testament tells us that the Children of Israel were commanded to “cleanse” the land, before taking possession of it, which they did not do; they decided that their way was better than that of the Lord God Almighty. By deciding to follow their own devices the Children of Israel cut themselves off from the promises of the Lord, opening themselves up to the troubles that have befallen them for the past several thousand years.

What I am saying is that you cannot now decide to commit the genocide that you failed to commit when you were brought to the Promised Land. Above all else we must learn lessons from history, lest we allow ourselves the curse of repeating the mistakes and tragedies of the past. History tells us that there is indeed a tradition of the vanquished peoples of the world becoming enslaved and extinguished, but that is not something that should be exalted, it should be observed with the solemnity that hindsight allows the learned pupil to provide insight and wisdom, that those mistakes need not be repeated by future generations.

By stating that the peace process is “unusual” for the reason that vanquished peoples do not live side by side with those who defeated them is tantamount to endorsing genocide; it is a comment that demonstrates that the Zionist movement has learned nothing from the lessons of history. It demonstrates that the Zionist movement has taken nothing from the ravages of war that nearly led to the vanquishing of the Jews in the middle of the twentieth century; is this the type of history that the Jews should be trying to perpetuate against another people? Should Jews not be fighting to the death to live in peace with others, knowing the awful price that nationalism exacts when taken to extremes.

If anyone should have learned about the importance of setting aside differences in the name of being able to live together in peace it is the survivors of the Holocaust: a people that were nearly wiped off the face of the earth by the xenophobic racial purity theories espoused by the Nazis. What is the difference between the near-genocide perpetrated against the Jews (Slavs, Gypsies, Homosexuals, disabled, and numerous others) and the ongoing atmosphere of apartheid and attempted genocide that has been enacted against the Palestinians over countless years?

I have met survivors of the Camps, both Jew and non-Jew, and there has always been a common denominator amongst these remarkable individuals: they share a desire to see a world without war, a world where everyone can live together in peace. This is something that they would gladly give up their lives to achieve. The violence perpetrated over the “Holy Land” is the worst example of historical ignorance, of a people refusing to learn lessons that cannot afford to be explained more than once. Even little children know that there is nothing to be gained from hatred, when will the Zionists and other fundamentalists grow up and follow their lead?


Anonymous said...

again you show how little you know - you should go to israel and do your duty as a Jew by joining the idf and protect the homeland from being destroy. better than protect these murderers with words all the time.


Anonymous said...

It would be wise for you to never show your face anywhere near the Holy Land - there is no place for your kind here.


Unknown said...

Well, a bit of the old and the new come out for this one ... no surprises there - what was surprising was that I had to delete a comment that overtly called for certain parts of my anatomy being exposed to the elements while a group of children sang derisive songs (at least, that's what I think the intent of the author was ... it wasn't really written that well, and I didn't read it that carefully once it became clear that it was not to be posted).

Zion - I shall not be moving to Israel, nor shall I be joining the IDF. At the moment I am perfectly content living as a native-born Canadian, with all of the rights and privileges that citizenship provides. Considering that I do not support a single element of the State of Israel, why would I possibly want to "protect" them by joining the IDF. Besides, by doing so I would be endorsing the actions that the IDF participate in by association - that is something that I could not live with.

As for "DesertBlood" - have no fear - unlike the deceived, I have no intentions of making any "pilgrimage" to the "Holy Land" - there is nothing in the Bible that makes such a trip mandatory for Christians - the tradition of pilgrimages was born by the mother of Emperor Constantine after he declared Christianity the official religion of the Empire. When "Saint" Catherine decided where the "Holy" sites were (including the site of the crucifixion - INSIDE the walled city of Jerusalem - an impossibility) she began the trend of pilgrimages as the faithful began to follow in her footsteps.

I have no intention of being that naive, nor do I have the desire to see the ravages of Israeli apartheid up close - my sense of imagination does not need as much as most people in order to gain a complete picture of a situation (long story, not for now) and there is more than enough reported - from both sides - to give me an adequate picture of the situation in the "Holy Land".

There is only one solution - two if you include the thermonuclear option - to the Israel/Palestinian "question" - live together as neighbours, with the differences that have been there all along, or die - in ignorance.

There is no other way.

Ben Heine said...

Hi Peter,
I'm quite impressed by this article. Quite a deep philosophical and political analysis once again. You're right on many points. The people who survived a genocide are the ones who would give their life for a world without war. This is true and the most dangerous warmongers today (mainly the US and Israel) just show no respect at all to all these survivors.

I also found very interesting the part on Benazir Bhutto's death. If you don't mind, I'll repost your essay on my blog today.

Peace and Happy New Year my friend,

Ben Heine said...

And thanks for using so many of my cartoons, Peter !

Unknown said...

Thank you for the comments, Ben, and it is an honour to have you use the article on your site.

As for the use of your cartoons, anything that I write is greatly enhanced by your brilliant work - thank YOU for allowing me to use them so freely.

May this new year be filled with inspiration and blessings for you and yours,