Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is This Armageddon?

Any commentary regarding the Middle East is radioactive. Nonetheless, the fundamental question seems to me to boil down to a single question:

Does Israel have the right to exist?

Doesn't the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute stem from the desire throughout the Muslim world to eliminate Israel?  Are Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists or are they liberators?

There will never be peace so long as the Middle East crisis is perceived as a "long war" in which victory will be the culmination of a series of unavoidable catastrophes, such as the 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 wars, plus two intifadahs.

Conventional armies, such as those led by Egypt's Nassar, failed to get rid of Israel. Guerrilla movements, such as Arafat's PLO who invented skyjackings and suicide bombers, failed to get rid of Israel. It's unlikely that terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas -- inspired by the rhetorical threats of Iran's incendiary president Ahmadinejad -- will get rid of Israel by raining rockets down onto Israeli civilians.

As Thomas Friedman says, "There will never be peace until Palestinians start loving their own children more than they hate the Israelis."

So far, Israeli withdrawals and concessions have brought about the opposite of Palestinian moderation. As soon as Israel withdrew from Gaza, making it the first independent Palestinian territory ever, militants began firing rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns.

Why didn't Palestinians make any effort to turn Gaza into a thriving state? Why didn't they create villages out of the settlements the Israeli government forced its settlers to abandon? Why did they fail to begin building schools, roads, and hospitals? Instead, Palestinians elected a radical Islamic Hamas government who chose to interpret Israel's voluntary evacuation not as a gesture of peace but as a victory for their armed struggle. Since then terrorism in Gaza has flourished, weapons imported, militants trained, rockets fired.

It's clear Israel will never negotiate the right of return for some 4 million Palestinian refugees, the descendants of the 700,000 Arabs who fled during the 1948 war. To do so would make Jews a minority in Israel -- the very situation that the United Nations ruled out in deciding the original partition of Palestine.

The Palestinian people must decide if they are willing to settle for an independent state living along side Israel. If they elect, instead, to continue to repudiate negotiated peace, then the question becomes Are we rushing toward Armageddon -- the decisive catastrophic conflict described in the Bible as the scene of a final battle between the forces of good and evil, prophesied to occur at the end of the world?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference between the Arabic world and Israel is a difference in values and character. It's barbarism verses civilization. It's democracy verses dictatorship. It's goodness verses evil.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

One Common Man's thoughts...
It is the difference between Cowboys and Indians, European and Middle Eastern, progressive and regressive, liberal and conservative, named and anonymous, to name a few.
I thought the question was whether Israel had a right to exist?
Only time will tell. They will have to earn it. Vietnam had to whip the French, then South Vietnam plus the USA to earn their right to live as they please.
I, for one, believe any people forcibly transplanted from all they know and love to a desert, and can make that desert bloom, deserve all the support I can give them.
My forefathers kicked the British out of the Colonies and then the Indians out of the West by killing all the buffalo, the main food source for the best fighting Indians. The Plains Indians.
The buffalo were cheaper and easier to kill than the Indians. The Government and the Army understood Cost Management even then.

I'm more interested as to when, not if, 43 will "nuke" whoever fails to take advantage of the offer the USA has made them. Israel fully accepted this offer.
That leaves Iran and Syria. Lebanon is a hapless pawn in the game. The only possible deterrents are China and Russia.

It would be wonderful if the dialogue statement made by the Lawrence of Arabia character in the movie Lawrence of Arabia,
"So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people; a silly people; greedy, barbarous and cruel!", were true.
It may have been at one time. This fictional statement was made about water wells and access rights. Oil has more power to corrupt absolutely.
My Persian friends had high respect for Saddam Hussein. They said he was a very smart man. They also admitted his flaws but pointed out Saddam did
not live in the USA. The rules are different. Iraq under Saddam did provide an undesirable but effective buffer to Iran and Syria.

2:26 AM  
Anonymous oddbjorn said...

To me, this seem to be an example of Argyris-styled single-loop learning where double-loop learning obviously is called for.

I can't see why Hezbollah and Hamas can be both terrorists and freedom fighters at the same time. Contrary to 'axis-of-evil' rhetoric, the world isn't black and white. To civilians on both sides, do you think there's a major difference between the terror caused by Katyusha rockets and the terror caused by US-provided cluster munitions?

Further polarizing the issues only serves the extremists on both sides.

8:14 AM  
Blogger ITscout said...

Everyone on the receiving end of military violence experiences terror. Isn't the real question, though, why were the rockets and bombs fired in the first place?

In hindsight, the latest Hezbollah-Israeli conflict appears, more or less, to have been a proxy war fought between Iran and the U.S. The Iranians seem to be trying to push Washington's buttons. Meanwhile, the Americans seem as if they wanted to see if Iranian-designed bunkers and missiles could be taken out through an air war-only campaign. Unfortunately, after all was said and done, countless hundreds died and thousands more were subjected to the horrifying terror of war.

Is the 'axis of evil' rhetoric black and white? I don't know. All I can say is that the rhetoric coming out of Iran, as well as North Korea, is a lot scarier than anything I ever heard while growing up during the Cold War. Iran's threat to wipe Israel off the map seems to be more reminiscent of Hitler's final solution than Krushchev's "we will bury you" quote. The biggest difference between present day Iran and Nazi Germany is capability. Heaven help us if the Iranians ever indeed do develop a nuclear bomb.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Chris Loosley said...

Pro-Israel rhetoric that decries anti-Israel rhetoric is not very convincing. But it is revealing. It illustrates how otherwise rational people can get sucked into these kinds of fights, and not even realize that they are actually part of the problem.

As a result, a peaceful solution is hard to find. As in Northern Ireland, the people who live there will just have to get tired of being killed, and refuse to participate in the killing. Ignoring all outsiders who tell them they have right on their side might be a small start.

6:20 PM  

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