Friday, July 14, 2006

What the hell is wrong with Israel?

“But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them;” (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)

“So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Joshua 10:40).

Why am I one of the only few Americans that would criticize the actions of our friend Israel? I feel a special connection with Israel, and support Israel’s peace--the overwhelming majority of Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors do, too, and badly want peace themselves. And I don’t support militant groups or acts in any form. But why do we, the United States, favor one people so much above the other? Why would we condemn Arab/Palestinian groups’ attacks and not express a shade of disappointment with Israel’s much more aggressive acts of destruction? Why would we give tremendous amounts of military and economic aid to Israel, one of the wealthiest per-capita nations, and yet do nothing even to acknowledge the Palestinian National Authority, which represents the poorest people in the region? Is it too much of a sin to see the plight of a group of Arab people? Maybe we don’t want to risk offending an ally--you can’t talk bad about a friend no matter what they do, right? And, of course, the Bible-believing, Old Testament-thumping Christians of the nation feel a religious obligation to stand behind “God’s Chosen People.” Well, if today’s Israel is representative of his chosen, I think I’d rather not be associated with such a one as God--because he’s clearly a violent terrorist.

Let’s review the chain of events. An Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, is kidnapped by Hamas, with the reason given of leverage for negotiating the release of Palestinian women and minors as prisoners (probably behind bars for throwing rocks at Israeli tanks). His abduction, for certain, isn’t excusable, even if he is safe. But what would Israel then do for fair measure? Fire rockets into the Gaza Strip, blowing up buildings, and invade with tanks the narrow streets of the impoverished region, tearing up the shops and roads of people several times poorer than Israelis. Scores dead--scores of civilians who had nothing to do with the kidnapping, dead.

Then, Hezbollah (which is a militant group in Lebanon not condoned or supported by the Lebanese government) kidnapped two more Israeli soldiers for a similar reason--the release of Hezbollah fighters. Some fighting erupted in northern Israel and southern Lebanon, with the group firing some rockets into Israeli towns across the border, killing one civilian, and fighting between the army and Hezbollah fighters resulting in the death of eight Israeli soldiers. In retaliation, Israel has invaded the state of Lebanon and bombed Beirut with air strikes, destroying the airport and many buildings, killing scores more civilians and wounding over 100. What is the image there? Reads one article of the Associated Press, “Middle East satellite TV stations focused on the violence, and one station showed a man holding the head and torso of a baby killed in the Israeli bombings.” There is no sense of balance in these measures. Tit for tat? More like KABOOM for tat. It is a head for an eye, and the whole jaw for a tooth.

We, the United States, are to Israel the blind friend who can’t see any fault, even when they are clearly wrong. We say we hope they don’t get into a fight, but we are the ones that bought the gun. Indeed, we are somewhat similar to that violent deity of the Old Testament: patient in carnage, longsuffering with destruction, slow to chastise his people, and quick to justify.
Pres. George W. Bush, commenting, said, “Israel has a right to defend itself.... Hamas doesn’t want peace, Hezbollah doesn’t want peace.…” What does it seem like Israel wants? Riding tanks through and tearing up the narrow streets of Gaza and bombing mainly civilian targets in Beirut don’t seem like acts of defense, and they certainly will not bring peace. If you want the safe return of your soldier and native son, then yes, by all means take the actions necessary to secure his safe return. But leave the Palestinian people out of it; they have nowhere to which to flee as you destroy their home. If you want to bring violent Hezbollah militants to justice, then use intelligence to find and bring them to justice. Israel has the capability to do so; the Israeli Defense Force has one of the most expert special ops divisions in the world. But instead, they’d rather send massive force into Lebanon and kill people who have nothing to do with it, and leave civil infrastructure in ruin.

Israel is a military state. Armed service is mandatory for both men and women. It’s defense spending, much of the funds for which comes from the United States, is far out of proportion to its civil spending, including measures to improve the poor Palestinian regions it controls. It has one of the strongest militaries in the world, while it is one of the smallest countries. And yet this strong military is not primarily used for defense purposes, but is almost always on the attacking side. And it is one of the few developed countries that has still not agreed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, or the Biological Toxin Weapons Convention. Israel has become an imbalanced aggressive country, hopped up on steroids and prone to violent mood-swings.

You know what kind of friend we need to be to Israel? The kind that says, “What is happening to you, man? I used to think you were cool.”

“We--that is to say, the Arabs and ourselves--have got to agree on the main outlines of an advantageous partnership which shall satisfy the needs of both nations. A just solution of this problem and one worthy of both nations is an end no less important and no less worthy of our efforts than the promotion of the work of construction itself.…

"We are assembled today for the purpose of calling to mind our age-old community, its destiny, and its problems. It is a community of moral tradition, which has always shown its strength and vitality in times of stress. In all ages it has produced men who embodied the conscience of the Western world, defenders of human dignity and justice….

"We need to pay great attention to our relations with the Arabs. By cultivating these carefully we shall be able in future to prevent things from becoming so dangerously strained that people can take advantage of them to provoke acts of hostility. This goal is perfectly within our reach, because our work of construction has been, and must continue to be, carried out in such a manner as to serve the real interests of the Arab population also.”
-Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, 1934


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Dear

7:00 PM  
Blogger reno said...

Hello !

Greetings from Belgium !


3:51 PM  

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