Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Croaking at the Middle East

What Israel is doing in Gaza is an outrage, of course, but it is itself a response to other outrages. Rather than running for high ground, all parties seem to be digging ever deeper into the moral swamp.

How did we get into this mess? It would be bad enough if it were Zionists against Arabs alone. But, of course, the refusal of the West to accept Jewish refugees before and after World War II swelled the number of Zionists with Jewish refugees from Europe. Then the conflict was taken up into the "Cold" War. The USA and the USSR pumped huge amounts of money and training into the conflict. Now it’s become a jihad, with committed fighters and well-funded allies on both sides. So many people have died, wounded, or been displaced that everyone in the region either has been affected or knows someone who has been. Almost everyone is afraid for their own safety and the safety of their family and friends. Many people on both sides want revenge, and Arab ideas of revenge are exceptionally brutal, which in turn provokes brutality from the Israelis. It is going to take miracles, an Arab-Israeli alliance, or a committed alliance outside the region, to stop the conflict.

Now if the Arabs and the Israelis made an alliance, they could tell the rest of the world to take a hike. Be a smart thing to do, really—most of the region’s problems have been the result of interventions to various ends. But it would take leaders with the courage to see beyond revenge.

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