Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gaza Strip: But You Don't Have to Take My Word for It

Let’s imagine for a second that I actually know something about what has been going on in the Middle East.

Okay, now, let’s say I’m a surgeon who has received a call in the middle of the night. A man needs an emergency operation. However, it just so happens that I loaned out all my instruments to another doctor yesterday evening and the operation that needs to be done is brain surgery, while I’m only a heart surgeon.

This is my analogy for why the US is being so quiet about the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza. I don’t think our silence is a sign of our complicity; I think it is a symptom of our over-commitment in other places and our ineptitude when it comes to dealing with terrorist groups. Especially when those terrorist groups attack “democratic” states like Israel that have allied themselves with the west and are doing all they can to gain our approval. Who can argue that what Israel has done is not a microcosm of what the US has done in Iraq since 9-11? This is also the same argument Russia used when it entered Ossetia and wreaked its havoc a few months ago: “We’re just doing what we learned from the United States”. Monkey see, monkey do, right? Of course, the situation in Gaza is more complicated because both groups believe God has promised them this strip of land. However, Khalid Mi’shal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau said in 2006,

Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us - our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.

I don’t think the tension that now exists has become more religious and less political than it was when Mi’shal uttered these words, no matter how much the word “ji’had” gets thrown around. This is just rhetoric used in pep talks to pump up the troops and in propagandist videos by Bin Laden. What Israel and Palestine really want is a bigger government and more land. In utter mimicry of the United States, Israel has just simply printed up some more shekels to fund their “war on terror”.

A cease fire is a good idea, but it doesn’t solve the perpetual problem both of these states have living next to each other. A recent article I read by Markus Bergstrom suggested that both states be dissolved. “[I]t is vital for the Zionist movement to realize that the idea of an Israeli land does not equate to, nor require, an Israeli state.” The author suggests this is true for Palestinian nationalists as well.

As I listened to the news this morning, recordings of gunfire and explosions pierced through my headphones. As of this morning, only 13 Israelis (10 soldiers and 3 civilians) have been killed as a result of the fighting. This is in contrast to the 1,055 Palestinian lives that have been lost; 670 of them have been civilians. Lord, have mercy.


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