Saturday, 2 August 2014

Palestine: Discuss

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." 
Theodore Roosevelt

Mmm. I seem to be getting tied into rants, raves and discussions regarding events in Palestine.
In London we are physically distant, dispassionate, disinterested, displaced but… I truly want to understand so that I can have an informed opinion and therefore make some kind of informed comment. This surely is how things will change. Once we have the tools to dissect the dissimulations, the misinformation, the rhetoric, the pious propaganda from both sides, once we can get beyond the spite that loss provokes… then maybe we, the dispassionate and disinterested, can start making informed demands on our own government. Britain was hugely influential in the partitioning of Palestine; it was the UN who offered up Palestine (then a British colony) as a refuge to a persecuted Jewish people, but in a place where others already lived. The indigenous Palestinians were bound to be ruffled; their unwelcome guests became the home owners, the home owners became the unwanted guests. After the partitioning (which involved confiscation of land, effectively erasing hundreds of Palestinian towns and communities) and creation of Israel in 1947, by 1949 Israel controlled 78% of Palestine. The new State then excluded or made beholden the folk that originally called Palestine 'home'. By giving Jewish refugees a home the UN effectively created a new set of refugees and a new set of resentments.
And, ok… whilst it does seem obvious that currently Hamas are keen to create a wave of nausea against Israel by parading the bodies of Palestinian woman and children, and seem to be cynically creating those moments by throwing stones at Israel so that they throw rockets back, producing propaganda possibilities etc… Israel is too efficient, too well funded, too indignant…
Having 'the right' doesn't necessarily make things 'right'.
The trouble is that it is such a complicated story (or is presented as such); tangled misinformation, webs of lies FROM BOTH SIDES that sometimes it needs demystifying.
Too many fatalities suggest that these are wounds that will take generations to heal; raw revenge and resentments run deep, fester, last lifetimes… It's apparent that Israel currently has the right to defend its moral high ground; it's their invasive action and the previous actions of the UN that permitted the partitioning, and all that that preceded that… that's what I'm interested in. I want to understand the history of the troubles. It's a fascinating microcosm of human behavior as well as a heartbreaking indictment of the lengths that people will go to, and the depths that they'd stoop to, to create or protect the simplest of human rights: a place to call 'home'.
Maybe it's time for us all to dumb down and get naive… so, excuse me for this but…

- All folk have a right to a place to call home.

- War bad.

- Peace good.

- Let's have peace talks that aren't orchestrated or manipulated by Super Powers.

- Jew kiss Arab.

- Arab kiss Jew.

- Forget.

- Forgive.

- Be kind.

- Be kind.

- Be kind.

I'm reading a book review over on a Seamus Duggan's Vapour Trails blog on 'The Sound of Things Falling' by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. A couple of quotes resonate:

"Then I realized no one wants to hear heroic stories, but everyone likes to be told about someone else's misery… Adulthood brings with it the pernicious illusion of control. Disillusion comes sooner or later, but it always comes, it doesn't miss an appointment, it never has."

"I was also surprised by the alacrity and dedication we devote to the damaging exercise of remembering, which after all brings nothing good and serves only to hinder our normal functioning, like those bags of sand athletes tie around their calves for training."

Might I add my own quote:
"Your head bone's connected to your… heart bone.
Ain't that the word of The Lord?"

And that Lord, in whose name so many horrors and acts of terrorism have been committed and excused, He who seems to make righteous all wrongs, He isn't yours, or mine; He is ours; our creation. He doesn't just forgive our sins; he seems to absolve them. Shame on us all then, I guess…

This post is simplistic, contradictory and ill informed; I know that.
Ironic that the writer of a piece about partitioning is effectively sitting on the fence.
I'm aware that the story didn't start in 1947; my 'virtual' mate Phil Hogarth has taught me that…
At least it gives a solid/simplistic platform to either stand on or kick over…
I need to know, to understand.
Please help me to understand.
I'm all ears...


  1. I think of Tel Aviv Phil every time news of the conflict comes on TV. Wondering how one lives in the midst of such chaos. I'm sure he's supremely more qualified than me to comment on the centuries-old conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land. It's far too complex a history to explain, let alone understand.

    I'll only comment (hesitantly) on the "current" situation...

    Regarding the "One-State Solution" or the "Two-State Solution"... Avoiding detailed explanation, except to say that either one would be a recipe for an eventual second Holocaust. The example of Gaza is instructive. In order to advance peace and appease world opinion, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon abandoned Gaza with no reciprocal agreement from the Palestinians. All Jewish inhabitants, most living there for generations, were expelled from their homes by Israel and resettled in "Israel proper." What thanks did Israel get for its generous gesture? Today, almost daily bombardments by Hamas rockets force up to one million Israel civilians into bomb shelters. Israel's patience with these aggressive incursions has been almost unimaginable. Yes, it's absolutely shocking to watch the staggering destruction rained on Gaza the past few days. The civilian death-toll alarming & heartbreaking. However, without retaliation I fear the eventual consequences; and there's always the prospect of surrounding Arab states and Muslim countries beyond (such as Iran) joining the fray and assisting attempts in the final annihilation of Israel.

    The reality is that, according to virtually every Palestinian leader, including President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians are not interested in a resolution of the conflict or even in the creation of a twenty-third Arab state. Their unwavering, stated mission is destruction of the Jewish state and extermination of its inhabitants. This was confirmed for me in an interview Charlie Rose had with Abbas this week. Rose pummelled him for an acceptable answer that might resolve the current conflict. Abbas ducked and weaved, before finally admitting that abolishing Israel was the only acceptable solution. How does one deal with that attitude???

    Neither does the conflict have to do with territory. The Arab states occupy territory larger than the United States including Alaska. Israel is about the size of Wales. Would the seething Arab-Muslim world finally lapse into peace and contentment if they were to acquire this tiny plot of land? I'll not even start on the tribal warfare amongst the various factions of Islam, or Islam versus the "Infidels". Yep, that's you and me...

    Trev, I really admire your idealism, your hope and search for some understanding. You certainly share the dream of many a great artist. Unfortunately there is such a thing as pure evil existing in the world. A lack of morality, or a warped morality that often accompanies radical fundamentalist religions. I hate to be an alarmist, and pick on Islam, but I don't believe all religions are created equal. I think we are in great danger if we attempt to be constantly politically correct, whilst being steam-rolled by a bunch of deranged psychopaths. I frankly don't have an answer to the mid-east troubles. The UN is toothless and deeply flawed, and the US/UK always seem to bugger things up when they get involved in anything. Ideally and highly unlikely, the peaceful Palestinians would somehow rise up and unseat Hamas and agree to full peace with Israel, and not resume terrorism. I'm not sure if the rest of the world has the wherewithal to affect change and a peaceful solution. Let's hope so...

    PS: Shalom Phil... Stay safe mate.

  2. Unflinching as ever TT. It seems apparent that a solution is impossible. The West tries to impose its moral integrity upon a culture that is… worlds apart. And, as ever, the extremists and terrorists will have their way. They're the ones wither heads up whilst everyone lease is ducking. Things can almost settle, almost balance, a small spiteful nudge and the world's akimbo again. I wouldn't however label Hamas as 'deranged psychopaths', although their tactics can seem shambolic, the horrors of 'hazard' so to speak, I think that they are too organized to be dismissed as mentally deviant. It can be argued that theirs is an extremist, self protecting, self aggrandizing culture that too easily dismisses the views of 'the infidels'. Their God is the righteous God and this gives them the moral high ground. This fundamentalism renders them one eyed and unable to negotiated. Vengeance has become a code; indeed a vile right; the territory is more about pious principle than land. Part of Israel's problem is that they are so damned efficient at 'protecting' themselves; and are similarly bloody minded. Poles apart yet two sides of the same 'stubborn' coin', a coin that needs to keep spinning. If it rests; there's your solution; and it will never be thus. The destruction of Israel is an impossible dream. This one, I'm sad to say, will run and run… the horror… the horror...

    1. "Heart Of Darkness" quote on the button. And yeah, my flippant "deranged psychos" comment was a poor choice of words. I guess I was implying that the "actions" of radically indoctrinated extremists who basically advocate the extermination of an entire race of people - may give the impression of a form of madness. No? And does "organization" necessarily negate the possibility of collective sociopathy? Example in both cases... the Nazis?

      Interesting discussion...

    2. Yup, I get that Tim. The Islamic fundamentalists are extremists with no collaborative sense whatever; there's is the only way; theirs is their God given right; but their God precludes all other 'Gods'. How can you negotiate with a group who want to wipe you off the face of the earth? Impossible. So… you build a wall. But… how do you stop folk lobbing stuff over the wall? Just lob bigger stuff and more accurately?

    3. And so it goes… sorry to be flip but it makes me think of this Roy Harper song…

  3. Thanks Tim. As I write this it's looking like the Israelis are winding down it's operations in Gaza. Thank God. It's been an emotionally exhausting month, and here in Tel Aviv we've had it pretty good compared to our citizens in the south.
    I have to cling to the hope that there will be peace, but for this to happen the religeous extremists have to be overthrown,on the arab side and the Israeli government has to stop settlements in the West Bank neither of which happen in the near future. Until then we'll, as always, enjoy the break until the next conflict.
    A peaceful night in Tel Aviv

    1. Peace is the impossible bird here Phil. Hamas have their hands on the wheel and the car is unstoppably out of control. I know that it's your home but… are you staying?

    2. For the first time, I discussed going back to England with my wife and she was having none of it! , so ,yes, we're staying. Even through the trouble I'm happiest here

  4. Like conflict all around the world - it's a situation caused by humans and fuelled constantly by humans. I don't know if there is a God or not. Bit I'm sure if there is he/she would not want the violence perpetrated around the world in his/her name. I wonder whether Nature will have the last word and produce a virus or such like that will cut down the population to a fraction of existing numbers. It will take a wake up call like this to bring humanity to it's senses. By which time it may well be too late anyway.

    1. Human nature created the situation. It would be great if Mother nature sorted it. No-one could piss and moan about that…

  5. Hi Trevor, catching up on Hissyfit amoung other blogs as I've not been managing to keep up over the summer. It's such an intractably knotted situation I find it hard to discuss. The worst of it is that the best solutions lie in the past. So much of what happened is a result of the long history of European anti-semitism, and the equally long history of anti-Arab sentiment. The real beginning of the modern Israeli state began (to the best of my knowledge) with the exodus of many Zionist Jews form France in the late nineteenth century largely as a result of the wave of extreme anti-semitism in France at the time.

    The irony is that all three religions involved, Jewish, Christian and Muslim share the same DNA, with Christians and Muslims sharing the Old Testament as precursors to their own prophets/messiahs. And in that Old Testament there is a section at the walls of Jericho where the god of the Old Testament orders the Jews to kill all the inhabitants of Jericho in one of the earliest recorded examples of genocide.

    The problem with the current situation is that the Palestinians were forced to supply the answer to the problem of what to do after the Holocaust. It seems obvious to me that a home state for European Jewry should have been created in Germany, and indeed, this would still remain a fairer solution. But fair and possible are not the same thing.

    In Ireland we are used to the way history can call people to violent revenge, and oddly, given your quotes from my review above, I have just posted on a book which seems to have even more appropriate quotes: "The interrogators and the prisoner await some understanding, like animals in separate cages watch each other for some movement that may return them to their previous natures. For their nature now is only made up of symbols. The gun, the drum, the pike, the flag, the fiord. The shape of the head. The accent." ... "They were looking for an opening into each other's psyche that was closed up centuries ago." It seems that some riddles have only violence as an answer: ""To get to my brain," he said, "you will have to shatter my forehead.""

    I will leave my final thoughts to the twentieth century's most famous Jew Albert Einstein. His theory of relativity also applies to politics and culture. they look very different depending on where you sit. He also had some things to say on the creation of Israel which seem increasingly prescient: I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. Apart from the practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight without a Jewish state.

    Hannah Arendt pointed out similar problems, and both actively spoke against the creation of Israel in a place that would be surrounded by people who would naturally be, and remain hostile to them. This she foresaw warping Jewish culture within Israel. It has also created a warped culture amoung the Palestinians. Neither looks capable of change but you never know, watching Martin McGuinness talking about his friend Ian Paisley shows that hatchets can be buried. Violence is a dead end and there will always be people who can see this is the case, no matter how justified the violence may seem.