Saturday, July 15, 2006

More on the Middle East crisis

The crisis in the Middle East is heating up by the hour. A number of Lebanese civilians were killed as they were trying to escape to safer ground in Syria. Hezbollah has declared war after its headquarters were bombed. Some news sources also say a border crossing between Egypt and Gaza was blown up by militants, allowing people to rush in (presumably to join the war against Israel).

Surfing the pundit sites, I find some gems (or duds, depending on your point of view). Josh Marshall tries to look at it from both sides, pointing out that very many Palestinians were disposessed and the resentment lasts to this day; and that there are many elements in the Jewish and fundamentalist Christian communities that fail to recognize this fact. On the other hand, there are many who are too willing to demonize Israel without understanding why the country needs to defend itself as it does.

On the other side of the divide, Ed Morrissey critizes the Vatican for its stance on the deteriorating situation. A statement from the Catholic Church says that Israel attacked Lebanon -- without referencing the fact that it was Hezbollah -- which is part of the coalition government in Lebanon -- fired the first shot by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.

It's hard to come up with words to describe my feelings without being offensive to both sides of the argument. I'm probably no better at it than Vanessa Redgrave was -- someone who managed to say something that insulted both Jews and Palestinians. But here's my sense:
  • The terrorists, and any government that would sponsor terrorism as generally understood (using violence, extortion or other similar means to win concessions) must be stopped. In fact, they must be destroyed.
  • All countries, democratically elected or not, must look upon themselves and see if they have contributed to the spread of violence around the world; and take the necessary steps.
  • The fact is that Israel and Palestine must agree to live side by side in peace. This may necessitate some land swaps. While I think the 1967 "Green Line" should be the border between Israel and the West Bank (with free and open access to all religious sites for those who come in peace), there can be an argument made for another line that gives both sides what they want. But it must be settled, and now.
  • The Palestinian Authority must stop all rogue elements in its midst. In fact, Hamas, who is the government in the region now, must renounce violence in all its forms.
  • Israel is well within its rights to defend its people and territory and to take action to ensure it remains protected. Attacking civilians is not, however, an appropriate response -- all efforts must be made to ensure ordinary people aren't targeted.
  • Finally, it's time for the fundamentalist Christians to realize that there are such a people as Palestinians, they have a right to exist -- and some of them are also Christians. It's also time for the fundies to stop pretending that the Jews are the "chosen people" but that they'll go to hell if they don't convert to Christianity. That's heresy. The Jews are the chosen people, period, and they don't have to convert unless they want to.

I don't know if all that would work. It's just a thought. But the parties involved had better solve this soon; before OPEC imposes another trade embargo on the West and oil hits $200 a barrel.

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