Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
Hold your fire!! fb has some great suggestions and insights about Gaza, such as:
"...1 thing I have learnt in life is that fighting and war solves nothing. Dialogue, peace and respect have to prevail. SO GET ON WITH IT. Both of you."
"...Peace through people, one by one. All the wars, missiles, targeted executions etc have got us where exactly? Mere pyrrhic victories that sustain the cycle of cycle of hatred, division and violence. It's time we all opened our eyes to a different solution and way forward."
I found myself exaplaining quite a few times in the past 48 why such well-intended posts give me the blues, so eventually I posted this:
"Hi fb! Meet Hamas. Can you please just tell them that war is not the answer and to give peace a chance? Thanks. There's cookies and coffee on the table, I'll wait outside. And in case they're not convinced, please advise how to proceed."
I don’t mean to mock my friends, I really don’t. I love my friends. I’m blessed to be surrounded by creative, smart, worldly people, immersed in the most pluralistic, diverse community on the globe: Los Angeles.
But when it comes to the never ending situation with Israel and its neighbors, ** breaking news! ** The information age did not create a very informed generation - but omg are they new-agey!
Judy (not her real time) asks:
"Would it make any difference if we all (lots of us) took a few days of annual leave and just sat there, like a human shields?"
It’s unclear whether she wants to be a human shield against Hamas’ missiles (that definitely never deterred any Jihadist from launching - quite the oppossite), or perhaps she wants to become a shield in Gaza? Ok. Let’s say Judy mobilizes her friends to do that. And let’s say they force an end to the fighting. Awesome! And than what? SInce Judy and the shields, by this point, would be back home and totally tuned out, I’ll fill her in with what happens next: Hamas proceeds to indiscriminately fire rockets at civilians, unchallenged. That’s it. Where’s the peaceful achievement?
Cause that's how they roll. It’s not like Islamist ideology is only Hamas’ thing. Islamist violence a global hit, marking a path of death in Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Amsterdam, Little-Rock... Place such recklessly violent ideology in a volatile place like Gaza, and what do you get? Precisely what we see now. And it’ll inevitably happen again, as long as Gaza continues to overdose on Hamas’ holy testosterone. Anyone who believes that peace is the only way to justice and prosperity should be concerned with Hamas’ destructive presence, not protect it when it’s challenged.
Saying Give Peace a Chance without digging 2 millimeters deeper to understand how, is condescending, and more importantly - worthless. It can only be said by observers who have no commitment or responsibility towards solving this conflict.
The problem is that for many of the smart people around me the disdain for war - in itself a progressive value I enthusiastically share, had been replaced by a disdain to Israel launching war - an ironic flaw that turns my well intended friends into indirect supporters of anti-peace ideology. So much good intention wasted, It’s tragic.
fb, Israel does not wage war for the love of war. So "Stop loving war" is not a relevant advise - however it is phrased. It's even a tad silly. Rest assured that the “radical” idea of wanting peace has been thought through before you brought it up on fb.
So other than getting some great Instagrams from Gaza, how precisely was Judy productive here? How did she promote peace?
Poor Judy - had she known...
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November 15, 2012 | 6:54 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
My brother, a PhD student, lives in Be’er Sheva, Israel. He’s a contributing member of his community, a husband and a father, leading a productive young professional life, just like his peers in Boston or Lisbon.
But when you live in Boston or Lisbon your neighbors don’t fire rockets at you; My brother’s neighbors do, and by that they drag his entire life into a scene from another movie. Imagine sitting at a Starbucks in Colonial Calcutta, something like that.
The men on the firing end are not disenfranchised or occupied, in fact, with so much attention and resources thrown at Gaza they could have been in high-tech. No, these men suffer from an entirely different malaise: Religious insanity.
The shooters could have easily studied or worked with my brother across the border - I can think of 2 dozen organizations that would love to finance such an initiative. But instead, they drag my scientist brother into their own miserable, narrow-minded, 3rd-world life.
Those who just tuned in on Wednesday, when Israel attacked, don’t know about my brother’s situation. The daily attrition is beyond most people’s scope of attention, thus they’re thrown, again, head-on into the boiling Middle-Eastern pool without a basic understanding of why things tend to so often boil over there. It’s clear why many peaceful people fail to see the cause-and-effect element here, why they can’t identify the source, the engine of violence, and seek its removal - for a real change.
Change? The automatic reactions are sobering:
Israel’s action is about the coming elections, suggested Israeli PM Ahmed Tibi, in a typical circumstantial-evidence-gone-wild spin. Egypt condemned “Israeli aggression against innocents”. The fact that Egypt had been on mute while 12,000 rockets rained on the innocents in Israel, and now argues that the slain rocket-rain-maker is the aggressed innocent, says it all about the moral and conscious system of the Islamist culture represented here: selective violence, selective rights, selective justice, selective truth. There’s no hope for this culture.
Moscow condemned Israel’s “excessive use of force”. This is so clearly a half-assed pull from the Kremlin’s “phrases for any occasion” hat:
-“Excessive - isn’t that what we usually tell them?”
-”Well, give it to them again, than.”
That’s the Russian way of handling issues that deal with human lives. They’re perfecting it with Syria.
Hamas positions itself as the symbol of Palestinian “Resistance” and patriotism. It’s working pretty well for them, but in reality they’re the current sorry symbol of Palestinian self-inflicted misery, a misery they’re dragging my brother into right now.
What a tragic twist. The Hamas’ “Resistance” is resistance to peace, and anyone who believes that peace is the only way to justice and prosperity should be able to see the problem here. Being the reckless, quite mad anti-peace player in this high-octane game, the Hamas is as anti-Palestinian as it’s anti-Israeli and is equally destructive to all human beings - that’s if you’re a peace seeker, of course. (If you’re for war-until-triumph, they’re actually pretty cool).
But the common perception remains that of simply “Israelis against Palestinians”, an equation in which things should be balanced, so no one comes out too defeated. Ironically the ideology that believes in defeating as a solution to the conflict is the beneficiary of this misperception. In the grand scheme of things, at the end of the day international dynamics always allow this ideology to persist, which will inevitably bring about the next round of violence.
Follow me on Twitter: @lostroadtopeace
November 4, 2012 | 11:33 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
Adel Abu Jabel, Israeli Druze, was working on Saturday in his apple orchard in the Golan Heights, by the Syrian border, as he does every day. On the Syrian side that morning, 3 government tanks entered the Syrian Golan, an area that had been demilitarized since 1973.
Abu Jabel’s home and orchard are located in a disputed area: the Golan Heights were taken from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel had controlled it since, but in the last 2 decades reports had surfaced time and again that Israeli Prime Ministers had offered to return the Golan Heights to Syria in a peace deal. Just last month in fact, it was reported that Netanyahu - Mr. Hawkstein himself - was prepared to do just that as recently as 2010.
The Druze, a minority in Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, are tied to their land, not to nationality. Mr. Abu Jabel has many relatives in Syria; They used to go out to the “Shouting Hill” by the border to conduct basic, loud conversations with family across the border, today they just go online. Syrian Druze are officially enemies of Israel, yet Abu Jabel served in the IDF, just like his sons and most Israeli Druze.
So if the Golan had been returned to Syria, Ahmed would have stayed put by his orchard, and would find himself on the Syrian side right about now. He’d have to deal with the fact that similar tanks to the 3 parking outside his window had shelled civilian homes and that the Shabiha boys that sometimes follow the tanks, torture, rape, massacre and pillage like it’s 1399.
Reality has it, after all, that the Golan is still in Israel. There’s always some minor disagreement between Israel and Bashar Al-Assad or his late dad Hafez - those reports that surface say. Wait --- Bashar Al-Assad on the White House loan shaking hands with the American President and the Israeli prime Minister? Sounds like a dissonance - in lights of recent events? Well, it’s not that a new and surprising nature of the Assad family emerged in the current civil war: In 1982, as we remember, Hafez killed in the neighborhood of 40,000 people in Hama. That’s how it used to be done in the good ol’ days.
But returning the Golan Heights to Syrian hands remains the widely accepted just solution for the Syrian-Israeli dispute. I wonder what Adel Abu Jabel thinks about that idea, or what his relatives across the border, who have to be really-really careful not to upset those 3 tanks, have to say. (Not that they would say anything, remember --- really-really-really careful.)
It makes sense that this territory, that was taken in a war, would be given back if reconciliation is reached. Reconciliation, peace, justice: all virtuous goals anyone in their right mind would like to see pursued. Precisely because of the desire to achieve those goals, one should decide what’s more just: the returning of land or assets, or having the basic rights to life and freedom. (I wanted to add “justice” in between “life” and “freedom”, but that would just give out the answer.)
And what about progress? Isn’t that another form of justice? Mr. Abu Jabel’s brethren on the Syrian side don’t have access to technology that allows growing apples year round. So Abu Jabel’s apples, together with roughly a fourth of the crop grown by Israeli Druze, goes to Syria, in a complex operation conducted by the Israeli secretary of Agriculture, the IDF and the Red Cross. Mr. Abu Jabel, clearly in serious advantage here, is in risk of regressing if moved to the Syrian side. Another example of regression, still in the world of agriculture and much more dramatic, took place in 2005. On August 15th some of the most advanced greenhouses in the world were located in Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. The greenhouses were bought by donations from American Jews so they can be given to Palestinians after the nearing Israeli withdrawal, but on August 16th, once the withdrawal was completed, the greenhouses were gone: looted, destroyed. The area where they once stood is now frequently used to fire rockets at Israel, it just can’t be more symbolic.
It makes sense that this territory, that was taken in a war, would be given back if reconciliation is reached. But a solution that comes bundled with so much injustice and regression is a problematic proposition. Very likely the Syrian civil war will end with Al Assad gone, but since it’s hard to expect that what replaces him is a Middle-Eastern edition of Norway, the injustices and regression I mentioned above are still relevant.
Come to think of it: does it really make sense that this territory, that was taken in a war, would be given back? Three times Syria aggressed Israel in wars the Arab world waged. Mission: remove from map. In one of them it lost territoey inhabited by Druze. For 64 years Syria has periodically launched limited attacks on Israel, using the Mujahideen, later on artillery, then Palestinian organizations and Hizbullah. Mission: Harass and kill. International law does not intend to incentivize and encourage this kind of aggression, violence and bad intentions, and I doubt it if any of my readers can come up with an example when it did.
The scale of justice, therefore, heavily tilts towards the Golan Heights remaining Israeli.
Yes. I think verdict is served.
Follow me on Twitter: @lostroadtopeace