Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Israel factor
On Friday night, I had the opportunity to visit a Synagogue and meet with the Jewish community here in the East Bay. After observing the Shabbat service, we discussed current events and politics over coffee and pastries, which I must say was a very positive and enlightening experience. I talked about my fascination with current events, as well as my desire to see as much of the world as possible, and they happily discussed with me the values of their religion and how they feel about some of the events happening in the world today. In the end, I was able to think long and hard about Judaism, Israel and the perception regarding the faith and the Jewish state.
In recent weeks, I have been offering my commentary on several political blogs. Almost on a daily basis, I have traded arguments with numerous responders, many of whom speak strong criticism against Israel. Do not get me wrong, that is perfectly fine, seeing as I myself have disagreed with some of the tactics the Israelis use in their daily battles Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen. However, I will defend Israel's right to exist until the very end. I believe that Israel, as well as the Palestinians, are in a fight for survival against a force that is determined to destroy both of them. That of course, is political terrorism, an evil that all too often justifies its actions under the banner of Islam.
Here's how I reached that conclusion. Keep in mind, when I say this, I am not favoring the Israelis or the Palestinians, but I am instead concerned for both of them. Both sides have certainly made many mistakes in the conflict, which is now in its seventh decade. But the analysis does not focus on that, nor does it assign blame to either side.
My analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Today, both Israelis and Palestinians are dying because of Gaza's Hamas rulers, the smaller, violent factions that go along with them, and their supporters in Iran and Syria. We all remember Hamas' bloody takeover of the Gaza strip, in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed, a move which should have drawn condemnation from even the harshest critics of Israel. All the while, rockets continue to pound Israeli border towns and the threat of the terrorists resuming their "martyrdom operations" looms in light of the deadly Dimona bombing in central Israel earlier this month. Still, there are people who continue to blame Israel for the situation unfolding in the Middle East, even as terrorists continue to slaughter innocent Muslims across North Africa and central Asia, hundreds of miles away from the daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. It's often said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the primary reasons for sparking the war on terrorism, yet in reality it appears to be just another conflict between two sides the terrorists have taken advantage of (Iraq and Pakistan also come to mind here). Notice that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (North Africa), the Taliban, and the Somali insurgency all embrace the same murderous ideology as Hamas while using similar tactics (suicide bombings, rocket attacks, kidnappings). The big difference though, is that there are no "Zionist forces" in those countries to provoke them. There are no Israeli settlements intruding on Arab land and no "occupation" in Algeria, yet that did not stop terrorists from murdering scores of innocent Muslims and leveling entire buildings in coordinated bombings, some of which surpassed any terror attack ever committed in Israel. All the while, Palestinian terrorists that buy into the same ideology as those murderers continue to use every effort available to sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. When Israel's leaders try to meet with the peace-seeking Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, the rockets start flying. By doing so, Hamas and its supporters are stating that they have no regard for the well being of Israel or the Palestinians they claim to be defending. After the events of last year, Israelis, Palestinians, Israel critics, and Israel supporters alike should all be able to put aside their differences and reach a similar conclusion.
So the point is that Israel does not seem to be the main culprit behind the violence we are seeing across the Muslim world, in my opinion anyway. Muslims have been hit the hardest since 9/11 in terms of terrorist attacks, far more than westerners as a matter of fact. To further prove that point, here is another example. Obviously, the Israeli-Palestinian crises goes back to the land dispute that started many years ago, just like the situation in Iraq between Sunni and Shia. However, as I pointed out, fuel is added to the fire when terrorists do everything they can to set off more violence. The conflict is exacerbated when rockets blast houses of innocent people and suicide bombers decimate Israeli Cafes in Tel Aviv or Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.
As salafism and other brands of political terrorism sweep across North Africa and threaten southern Europe, even Jimmy Carter could see this coming if he would drop the whole "peace not apartheid" rhetoric and open up his eyes.