Old Enmities, New Violence

13 07 2010

There was violence in the streets in Belfast yesterday. It was the same old grievances being acted upon by a new generation of fighters. I just don’t get it.

As a small child, I remember watching the news as Ireland and North Ireland fought bitterly on the screen. It really upset me because the place where the fighting was going on didn’t look very “foreign” to me. The buildings and homes looked just like areas of the city in which I lived at the time. The people didn’t look very “foreign” either with their jeans and sweatshirts and baseball caps and sneakers. I asked my grandmother why they were fighting and she tried to explain the split between Protestants and Catholics and how two groups who were so similar could hate each other so much and for so long. She did a pretty good job, but that didn’t make the fighting any more sensible to me. I must have been being a pain because my grandmother finally looked at me and said “Every little boy and girl in the world is born the same. No one is better or worse than anyone else. Those people weren’t taught that.” I remember that so well I can almost hear and see her saying it.
Time marches on – I’m now an adult, or should be anyway, with a great interest in world events and foreign policy and my grandmother has been gone for several years now, but this conflict makes no more sense to me now than it did all those years ago in the kitchen of our small, old house. It’s so senseless and it’s been going on as long as I’ve been alive and for ages before that. There are plenty of conflicts that are older than me – Israel/Palestine springs immediately to mind – but, while I find it hard to justify any of them, this one strikes a particular chord with me. I’ve read about it and talked about it and learned about for years, but at the end of the day, I’m just as confused and disgusted as I was when I was following my grandmother around our kitchen peppering her with an endless stream of questions.

There are some articles from the BBC here, here, here, here, and here. I’m sure there will be a statement made by someone of governmental importance and I’ll update with that once I find it.

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My Idea for Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process – Uhhh, How ’bout Saying What You Really Mean?

17 04 2010

Let’s start off by clarifying a few things before you get all upset.

1. Am I “Anti-Israel”?
No. I don’t want to see Israel destroyed, but I also don’t believe that the Palestinian people have no right to exist.

2. Am I some dumb fool who believes that peace can happen overnight?
No. Peace takes a long time, so the sooner we get started, the better.

3. Since I’m not jewish or muslim, I obviously can’t care strongly enough about the issue and therefore have no right to an opinion, particularly one which I’ve made public.
This is the one that bothers me the most because I’ve had people – friends – say this to me in all seriousness and think that doing so is quite alright.

I'm not Hillary Clinton either, but I would strike the same pose at this point.

No, I’m not jewish. I’m not a muslim either, I’m agnostic. I don’t practice anything. I don’t have a problem with any individual who does until they start telling me what I do and do not have the right to think about and discuss. At that point, whether they know it or not, that individual and I have a big problem, and it has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their arrogance and pretension masked as piety.

Still not the Secretary of State. Just needed the pose again.


I hate to break this to them, but any sort of armed conflict in that region effects everyone and it doesn’t stop to make sure I have a personal stake in the matter before it messes with me. The way I see it, if the problems caused belong to everyone, the solution should too. Everyone should have a seat at the negotiating table whatever their religion or lack thereof.

So now that I’ve stated where I stand, what’s my idea?

HONESTY!

I don’t believe any of the public statements put out there by anyone – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the US, not the UN, not anybody – and haven’t for quite a while. I would love for the Israelis, Palestinians, US, UN, League of Arab Nations, and any other groups involved in the peace process to meet somewhere and speak their minds. It wouldn’t be pretty, but we’d have a far better idea of how big a task the peace process actually is and who really wants it. For example, I don’t believe for one minute that Israel – the government, the people, all of it – wants a two-state solution. From a practical standpoint, they have no reason to want it. All they do is loose land. Many say they would gain an enemy, but I don’t see how. They’re already fighting the Palestinians, so the enemy would not be a new one. Speaking of the Palestinians, I think that they would like a two-state very much – it beats being a refugee in what was, at one time, your country – but they don’t want to appear weak by just talking over an agreement and then signing it. No, they want to fight tooth and nail for their peace. Unfortunately, no one has informed them that, to paraphrase an old expression, violence for the sake of peace is like promiscuity for the sake of virginity. It doesn’t work very well. The US and the League of Arab Nations are two sides of the same coin. Both have voices calling for peace within them, but there are strong loyalties within them linking the whole group to one side or the other. The Arab League of Nations will always back Palestine over peace and the US will never push for peace as hard as it pushes for Israel for a number of reasons, all political. The UN, if we’re honest, has lost much of its power. I wish it weren’t the case and I wish someone were able to put them on the path to becoming what they once were, but for now they serve one very important purpose – they condense, into one voice, world opinion and make that voice heard. While, traditionally, the world at large has had its issues with jewish people – that’s one reason why Israel was created in the first place – currently, the world voice is still calling for peace and a homeland for both peoples.

If everyone involved would say what was unpopular but true, maybe we’d get somewhere before the two sides start lobbing missiles at each other again. I’m glad we are still working on peace even though I complain about the process. We can work on disagreements, nihilism gets us nowhere.

If it’s news you’re after as opposed to my thoughts and opinions, this site follows the process very closely and does so fairly and honestly, I feel.