Monday, July 24, 2006

Conflict in the Middle East

One of the great things about being a pacifist in Canada is that you never have to get beyond intellectual games in testing your beliefs. I am a pacifist from a spiritual basis - killing any person is killing that of God within them, destroying a human soul and mind. I can not think what it must be like to be a pacifist in Israel. I would hope if I were Jewish and lived in Israel I could be a pacifist, but given over eons of attacks, pogroms and genocide, I suspect that it would be very hard to be a pacifist.

Israel is in my opinion a rather flawed democracy. The state may not officially be only for Jewish people, but the simple reality is that the non-Jewish population in Israel is defacto an underclass. But when one looks beyond the flaws one sees some amazing things about Israel. This nation has managed to be democracy with a free press and a freedom to associate since 1947. This is the only nation in the Middle East, and related region, that has managed to do this. This is also the nation that started with the fewest resources of any nation in the region and has managed to succeed in ways that the other nations can only dream of.

The world should never forget the importance of the Holocaust on Israel. Can anyone imagine if over a six year period some nation came in and exterminated 1/2 the Canadians in the world simply for being Canadians how Canadians would react afterwards? Never again is clearly what people would say. In Israel's case, how can they react differently than they have done after being attacked overtly in aggressive wars or covertly through terrorism on an ongoing basis for close to 60 years? I can not imagine how Israel manages to accept Hamas as being allowed to exist.

The one war that almost everyone considers justified was World War 2 because of the horrific nature of Hitler and the Nazis - though as a Quaker I can not find a justification for any war. I truly feel the loss of that of God within of people I should have known but did not because of the war. Has not the pages of history told us that appeasement in the era of 1933-1939 was a mistake? If the democratic nations of the world taken a harder line on Germany at the time, the world could have been spared the second world war.

How is Hamas different from the Nazis? As far as I can tell the only difference is that Aryan is replaced with Islam. Hamas is hardcore facist. Hamas is racist. Hamas is opposed to freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of religion and all the other basic freedoms that people in more and more countries around the world accept as the basis of an open and modern society.

With the end of the Soviet bloc and the coldwar the UN and global community should have acted to change how the world is viewed. From 1945 to 1990 the existence of two superpower blocks meant that the UN had to acquiesce to human rights abuses within the dictatorships of the world or face the danger of a war that would have been beyond anyone's imagination. Now that this time has passed and there is one global superpower the threat of Armageddon has passed. The UN has to make a major shift, it has to place democracy and human rights at the forefront. It has to adopt as a mandate the end of all dictatorships and create an international process to destroy all racism and racist groups.

The UN needs to make it clear that there is no space in the UN for any nations but democracies. The UN needs to demand that all nations that are members are democratic, those not acting in a democratic manner should be expelled. Nations that have serious flaws in their democracy must be suspended. The UN Human Rights Commission must only have as members nations that protect human rights within their constitution and also act on this.

This brings me back to the Middle East today. Hamas has to be opposed on every level possible. Liking or disliking the Israeli government is a secondary issue when a fascist organization is calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of people simply because of their ethnicity. Why do we not have stronger sanctions against Hamas from other nations?

Israel is an interesting situation, what in some terms looks like a colonialist state in dispute with the native people is not really the case. The Jewish people are indigenous to Israel and therefore can not be colonizers in the classic sense. The problem has come from the fact that they are an indigenous people returning to their traditional lands and have a different group of people there that have status of indigenous as well. The clash between the two is a problem, but in the case of the Arabs, their racism in response to Jews is simply wildly unacceptable and needs to be actively attacked.

After 1945, how can anyone expect Jews to ever accept not fighting back? This is a matter of life or death for them. What they learned in World War 2 was that no one was going to come to their aid. Then in the numerous wars the Arab neighbours started, the Jews discovered again that they had one coming to their aid. For a small nation with a small population surrounded by nations are groups actively calling for the extermination of Israel there are few options other than hitting their enemy hard enough to make them stop. Israel has seen that the UN and world community will sit on its hands instead of protecting Israel. Since the global community not come to their aid, Israel must act in ways that are not normally acceptable to be able to survive.

And how would I act? Could I remain a pacifist if there were nations wanting to kill me and my family for simply existing? My hope is that my faith would be strong enough to endure this, but I know that the very thought of someone harming my children arouses such rage within me that I doubt my ability to keep to my path of pacifism.

The situation of Israel is like someone living in a neighbourhood where criminals rule the streets and police turn a blind eye and ignore the area. You either give up an leave your home or you make sure the criminals know you are tougher than they are and will win in scrap that happens.

Given the situation of Israel, the attacks of the last few weeks are not very surprising. For the people in Gaza life is hellish at the moment, but what possessed them to elect fascists in the first place? What Israel is doing to Gaza is certainly much less severe than what happened to Berlin in World War 2.

The answer in the Middle East is simple in some respects. The Arab nations must become democracies as in the west and they must work harder than anyone else to end the fascist movements within their midst. They must also overtly not only accept Israel as a state, but offer Israel every assistance to end all movements that advocate the destruction of Israel. Short of that, I can not see how the end is going to come for this confict.

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