An Outsider’s view of the Middle East

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Although I have kept an avid eye on Israeli and international newspapers, I still consider myself an outsider, since I haven’t actually been in Israel since Hanukah 1986.  I have however watched with fear and trepidation the developments in a country that opened its arms to me and allowed me sustenance for two years.  Shimon Peres was PM in a national unity government with the opposition then and Israel had recently occupied Southern Lebanon to protect its border regions from daily rocket attacks.  Life in Israel then was easy and peaceful.  When and how did it change?  When did revenge become such a huge part of the Middle East vocabulary?  Every time there is a killing or bombing the perpetrators will say why or who it was done in revenge for.  What ever happened to “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence;.” (Deuteronomy 32:35).  It didn’t change really because in the Middle East folks have always taken an ‘eye for an eye’ but in the current age is this really so productive?

            The revenge industry has now taken on a new dimension in that terror groups and activists will now use the news media to publish their intention to avenge.  One of the headlines in the Jerusalem Post reads ‘We’ll soon avenge Mughniyeh’s death’ (Aug 22, 2008 11:23 ).  Everyone knows that Hizbollah will avenge but it publishes these kinds of threats in order to keep up its image among their people as a strong advocate of the ‘downtrodden’.  But in fact, who are they protecting, or indeed advocating for?  To begin with Israel has denied involvement in the afore-mentioned slaying, but let’s for a moment imagine that Israel did dispatch Mughniyeh.  Firstly he was a valid target, since he was well known in his terror network and his death could well have prevented several bombings in Israel.  If Israel was involved, their agents singled him out and surgically removed him from the picture with the only other casualties being his bodyguards.

            However, Now that Hizbollah has announced that they will avenge his death, their response will most likely be against civilians in a crowded place where it is least expected.  Heaven forbid that the ‘brave’ Hizbollah should engage in fighting with actual soldiers!  The lefty media loves to use terms like ‘disproportionate response’ when writing about Israeli incursions in their hunt for terrorists, but are they going to now say that the murder of dozens of civilians out shopping is a ‘proportionate response’ to the killing of one admitted terrorist and murderer.  In a war neither side is going to act proportionately because they want to win the war.  Germany used the Blitzkreig, and the allies flattened Hamburg not to mention the Atom Bomb on Japan. 

            Admittedly though, World War II was a different situation, with a lot more desperation.  The League of Nations had collapsed and as yet there was no UN.  Perhaps if there had been no UN in the previous Middle Eastern conflicts, then maybe the warring nations would have reached a lasting solution themselves.  Instead, with the calling for ceasefires, rather than negotiating peace terms, there has just been a lull in the fighting which enables the sides to replenish supplies for their war effort.  This raises yet another question, that of who makes war, and who is the international community going to recognize?

            Previous wars in the Middle East were fought between Nations.  Egypt, Syria, Jordan, etc attacked Israel, and Israel fought back and eventually, a ceasefire was called.  Hizbollah and Hamas claim to be legitimate because the people voted for them but they have brought their people nothing but misery and bloodshed.  Hizbollah started a war that they knew they couldn’t win, and then they stored weapons among civilians, while hiding among their own population, and how brave is their supreme leader, he conducted the war in the Syrian Embassy Bunker.  How gullible do they believe the Lebanese people are when they announced that they had defeated Israel, yet they had caused the deaths of thousands of their own people, and all they had succeeded in doing was kidnapping two Israelis and firing rockets.  Everyone knows that you can bomb an enemy as much as you like but it is the infantry that wins a war. 

            In the light of all the news clips of terrorist training camps and facilities which show would-be terrorists going through their paces, there are some key points that are apparent.  For instance in Al Qaeda stories, whenever someone is said to have been to a terrorist training camp in say Pakistan or Afghanistan, the clip always shows a boot camp kind of training regimen.  What is this meant to do?  Are we to believe that being in al Queda requires one to have skills like a soldier, like a Green Beret perhaps, or Delta Force?  Not likely, whenever terrorist groups have come up against ‘real’ soldiers they have always crumbled.  Let’s face it being a soldier takes more than doing a boot camp scenario in front of a willing lefty news camera.  More proof that the training is for the media’s consumption is clear when one imagines how difficult it is to strap on a bomb vest and pull the cord.

            How many terrorist group actual members become suicide bombers?  Had an Arafat, Mashaal, or Nasrallah ever lead their followers by example, there’d be much less bloodshed in the Middle East.  It is one thing to tell people that they need to kill themselves and take as many of the enemy with them as possible, but it is another to do it yourself.  It seems that as long as the Terrorist leaders can perpetuate the lie of oppression that they will have any number of willing saps ready to blow themselves up in this cause.  The promise laid out to entice this action is the promise of 72 virgins in Paradise.  But if we look at this reward it doesn’t really hold any water on its own.  First of all, Paradise or Heaven is a place where the elect will have sanctified bodies without the need for physical gratification or procreation.  Secondly, what happens to the paradise after the martyr has had sex 72 times, there’d be no more virgins, oops!  Thirdly, in the case of a female suicide bomber, is she going to get 72 male virgins, where will they find them, or will she be a pedophile?  On the other hand women don’t want male virgins because they lack experience.  In the Bible it says “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise”(1 Corinthians 1:27)but that is talking about shaming the unbeliever into belief.  The 72 Virgins doctrine is so far off the believable, that it is approaching the ridiculous.  The sad thing is that so many people will blindly believe this promise of martyrdom.

            The usual catch-cry of the lefties is that when a person has no hope in the future they will resort to suicide as their only option.  There is always an option.  Those few, and I mean few Arabs who were living in the Biblical land of Israel when the Jews returned were offered citizenship.  They instead chose treachery in an attempt to take back land that they had readily sold when it was useless desert and swampland.  Therefore, the refugee problem was created by the Arabs themselves, and they refuse to reabsorb the ‘Palestinians’ into their own countries.  Tit for tat retribution has been the Middle Eastern way for millennia and the Semitic peoples have lived in a tenuous existence moving from war to peace to skirmish to escalation back to peace and maybe war again.  Unfortunately, with the involvement of the West and mainly the bureaucratic UN in the negotiations, it tries to impose analytical Greek thought onto Middle Eastern problems which have always existed with holistic Semitic thought patterns. 

            Jews and Arabs of Semitic background have basically the same thought patterns, they both look at problems holistically.  Jews will say, “We keep Kosher not because the food is healthier, but because it is in the Torah.”  Arabs will say, “Allah has willed it.”  Neither of these two peoples feel the need to analyze the Scripture that has just told them to do something, although many of them will do that analysis, it is not the central reason for doing.  And so the failure of the West in handling the situation it has undertaken in the Middle East is apparent, in the many peace plans that have been put forward.  The Road Map for one, was meant to implement concessions in parts.  One side did one thing and the other side did something else, the one conceded one part and the other stopped stoning.  This lead to recriminations about who was conceding more, or not conceding enough, or not keeping to the plan etc, until it became obvious that the Peace Plan, or should it be Piece Plan had failed.

            This gets us back to the original subject of revenge.  There would be no need for revenge attacks if there were no attacks.  When I lived in Israel in 85/6 there were no attacks, no revenge.  I am not a political analyst so I won’t try to write about the reasons why, suffice to say that the Arab neighbors seemed happy.  In fact, one Moshav I worked in leased land across the border in Jordan, and daily we would drive the tractor into Jordan to tend the fruit trees, without Passports.  On the other side of Israel on Independence Day, or the Nakba as it is now called by Arabs, we ran, marathon-like from the Kibbutz ruins on the Egyptian border back to the new Kibbutz as part of the celebration while being watched and cheered by Arab residents of the Gaza Strip.  Alas, that was back in the ‘good old days’ and things are different now.

            Now we have of terrorists who are self-styled leaders of the people.  The population is told what they need, indeed what they want, or how they will achieve fulfillment.  Revenge it seems is a never-ending cycle.  No matter what act is perpetrated, be it shooting civilians, or blowing up buses or cafes, there is no end of murderers to be redeemed posthumously by having crimes committed in their name.  The martyr being avenged is always the person who was killed while pursuing his terrorist agenda of bomb making or planning the next terror attack.  The oil fortunes of the rich Arab states are a fleeting thing, and from the view of this outsider, for the Arabs to have peace and prosperity all they need to do is not more terror or weapons or bombing, but just to desire it. 

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