Tag Archives: middle-east


27 Nov

On the one hand there’s possession and on the other there’s religion

Both of them point to a world of distinction

Of mine and yours and us and them

There’s nationalism

And though you think the world is easier when the lines are clear

The world is easiest when they disappear

 But through all of our doing

All these years long

One thing we missed

Is getting along

[from All Has Been Done by Lunacidal Tendencies.

From a Tel Aviv bus: Israel Loves Iran and Iran Loves Israel

Well, it’s been a ride. Missiles firing, bombs dropping, a bus exploding, sirens, friends being called and some coming to get away for a bit. I can’t tell you what it does, but I imagine it’s different for all of us. What I can tell you is what I thought about and where it’s brought me to today.

This is my attempt at putting together a lot of writing during this time. I hope I both trimmed enough and left enough. Each section can almost be a full blog in itself and, indeed, responsibility would have been the focus of this blog had the events of last week been different. I hope it succeeds in shedding some light.

I. Propaganda

The propaganda in this situation is astonishing. The pictures I saw were from other places, incorrectly captioned and even outright faked. The articles were one-sided with made-up fallacies called truths. They were asking us to pick a side. Once, journalism was about a group of people trying to dig fact out of a world of opinion. Today it hides fact and makes up opinion. It’s to be read as fiction. Even facebook is a better place for facts, though it must definitely be weeded out. But, as opposed to today’s news networks, at least it’s there.

And the slogans! “Israel has the right to defend itself” and “Free Gaza”. I think we’re all lucky that the Unnamed Itself didn’t just throw up on all of humanity. Yuck.

II. Choosing Sides

Choosing a side in war is not like choosing a side at a baseball game or cricket match. Nor is it like routing for Messi to score a goal. Most of the people dying don’t want to be involved. Soldiers included. And the ones that want to be involved aren’t generally the ones dying. Which at least partially explains their determination to be involved.

The importance of choosing a side is in the control it brings. Our news is so slanted – in both directions – because nobody really cares what side you pick. Only that you pick. When you choose a sports team you’ll be willing to give up your money. When you choose a side in war you’ll give up your authority. Just look at the laws that have been passed in the U.S. in the name of “the war on terror”. If we’re finding out anything today it’s that our authority is a lot easier to give up then it is to get back.

If you want to take a side in war then take the side of the people with bombs falling on their heads. Feel for the soldiers who are asked to do these things. These are the people suffering. These are the casualties. None of them will ever be the same again and many of them will never heal. Pray for each and every one of them.

III. Celebrating Death

I remember when Saddam Hussein was hung and Osama Bin Laden was announced dead. The television was sprawled with images of people celebrating. I remember in 1991, when Iraq launched missiles to Israel, the scenes of people cheering. In the current outburst as well, and even at its end, people cheer and claim victory to their people. This is something I cannot reconcile and I will never join with people that celebrate death. I can’t express myself better than chapter 31 of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching as translated by S. Mitchell (his full translation is here):

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

IV. Responsibility

In war it always seem to be the dead that are responsible for their dying. As if the missile was fired from their own hand. In this conflict it is the same. I don’t hear Egyptian leaders taking responsibility for the flow of weapons. I don’t hear Gazan officials saying they regret that they need to take life, quite the opposite. And I don’t hear Israeli officials taking responsibility for keeping a barricade on Gaza. Every party is justified. Their circles are closed. Israel can say that the barricade on Gaza is obviously deserved and here’s the proof. Egypt can either deny all involvement or say that without the weapons nobody would listen to the plight of Gaza (a plight which, they themselves, don’t listen to). And the Gaza leaders can say that they’ve been barricaded and what choice do they have. Perhaps they should ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; perhaps they should ask Gandhi. But whoever they’ve been asking has been giving them the wrong answers. Likewise for all the other players involved.

It is time for parties to take responsibility for their actions. It is time to stop saying that “our hands were forced”. It is time to start thinking about the interests of the people living in the Middle East and not the people that have a vision of a particular Middle East. The everyday people here – Palestinians and Israelis – are the ones suffering for those visions. It is what it is right now. Stop thinking about how to make it something else and deal with it.

This total lack of responsibility is a worldwide phenomena right now. For war, death and destruction. For the environment and cancer and autism. For the economies. Which is another thing I think a lot about, so I’d like to take an aside into this “Global Economic Crisis” if I may. It is not entirely disconnected.

V. Just what is a global economic crisis?

Have you thought about the phrase “global economic crisis”? I mean really thought about it? It makes no sense. We made money up! It doesn’t exist! And now we’re all living in hardship because we have a money crisis? Tell me there’s a global water crisis, food crisis or a thousand other things that are really out there. But global money crisis? Really? Something we made up is now in scarce supply? Really? I can’t ask that enough here. Really? It stuns me every time I think about it. One day we’ll all laugh at ourselves for being so serious about a global economic crisis. And then we’ll all die because there’ll be no food or water.

Here’s an idea: tomorrow, depending on total net worth, everyone in the world’s amount of money gets multiplied by something between 50 and 1. All debts are fixed and do not change. Prices are multiplied by, at most, something like 20 for all goods and services. Now, I haven’t considered the ramifications of this, but who really cares? We made it up in the first place. That’s the point. Obviously after the modification we’ll eventually get back to the same place we are today, but maybe by then we’ll realize just how ridiculous it is to live our lives around some idea that we made up instead of something that actually exists – like each other, for example.

VI. Voices of sanity

Despite all of the noise from around the world there are groups of people in the Middle East that still see each other. That reach out to each other from across the borders, wish each other well and help each other deal with the events around them. The people suffering on both sides that think about the suffering of the “other” side. That prove that, in fact, there are no sides here. And if there are then they are not what they seem. Some of the best outreach I’ve seen is and was from the following facebook pages: Turning a new page for peace, Israel Loves Palestine, Palestine Loves Israel, Iran Loves Israel and Israel Loves Iran. This is, of course, not a full list but it’s a nice start. Make your voice heard for sanity. War is not sane. These communities were a beacon during this past week. And they are a beacon for our future.

VII. Closing

Both in Israel and in Gaza, the minority tends to have a powerful voice. It’s a fact all over the world that the more fanatic the person the louder his voice. Truth is silent. It does not need to force itself on anybody nor does it need to convince you of anything. Force is used to push the false and loudness to deceive.

I ask you to hear the voice that is not being heard. I ask you to put aside what you’ve learned. I ask you to remember that, if you must pick a side, pick the side of the people in between. Choose the third option. The first two are means of control. The third is your humanity.


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