Monday, January 5, 2009


I read the headline stories from the Times today and then listened to a podcast of a reporter stationed in Gaza City. It's horrifying. I read a bit earlier this evening about the history of Israel on Wikipedia. I know it's not the most reliable source, but I started reading a bit about the Balfour Declaration. Balfour was a prime advocate for the creation of the Jewish state during World War I. I read a statement from Balfour that just shocked me: despite the fact that the majority of Palestine was Arab, Balfour wrote that the establishment of a Jewish state there was valid because "Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, and future hopes of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land."
How horrible. It's the same logic that has driven us to drive out "inferior races" in the name of our own manifest destiny. Perhaps that's what will become of the Palestinian Arabs, something akin to our system of reservations after occupying the Indian land and moving them out. This has been done so many times by colonial powers, and yet it never fails to shock me.
I only bring this up because I'm searching for some kind of origin point, some kind of patient zero for this madness. Blaming colonialism doesn't make things any easier now though: what appears to be happening is an organization deciding to fight a guerrilla war from a residential area, and the civilians suffering more than anyone as a result.
The other thing that always amazes me is the air strike campaign that aims to win the hearts and minds of the people bombed. We did it with Iraq: "Blame Saddam!" Turn against him! We did it with Milosevic in bombing Serbia during the Kosovo conflict. This strange idea that we can turn the people against their own while bombing them. Admittedly though, Hamas is using the city centers for their fighting, provoking the targeting that Israel's engaged in, but as the Times reporter said, ultimately the bombs that kill the families are being dropped by Israel. Can the Israelis really imagine the people will find them blameless?
No matter what the demands of war are, that blood remains on their hands, just as the Israeli victims' blood is on Hamas.
God help us all.

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